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Simple hacks to cut your bills

26th June 2024

Try these tips to boost your Money Confidence and help you stay on top of your household finances

From gas and electric to TV subscriptions and your home insurance, the cost of living really hits home when you look at your bills. Watching your monthly payments rise can make you feel powerless, but there are steps you can take to make savings. And every penny you save on a bill is a penny you can put towards your longer term financial goals, or a rainy day fund. A little forward planning and some tweaks to your budget can make a real difference, and put you back in control. Check out this simple guide to find out more.

Know your bills

Whether they arrive by email, within an app, or land on the doormat, bills can be difficult to understand.
They should include your details, the dates for the service provided, and what you are being charged for, plus what you owe and when payment is due.
If anything does not look right, then contact the provider and ask them to explain.
Energy bills may include a standing charge, as well as the cost of the gas or electricity you have used, which can vary depending on your tariff.
The Energy Saving Trust has a comprehensive guide to energy bills here
Understanding your household bills will help you plan and budget across the year, so you can avoid any nasty surprises.
Check if bills are quarterly or monthly, and how many instalments there are - for example many annual council tax and insurance bills are paid over 10 months rather than 12.

Be more energy efficient

After your rent or mortgage, energy costs are one of the biggest bills for most households. According to energy regulator Ofgem, the average 2023 combined gas and electric bill in the UK is £1,834 a year, or £153 a month.
However unlike insurance, or your Council Tax, you have the power to cut the amount of energy you use, and bring down your bills at the same time.
It can be as simple as turning down the thermostat by a degree, using draught excluders, keeping curtains closed and turning off radiators in empty rooms.
Turn off lights and appliances when you are not using them, wash clothes at lower temperatures, and only put the washing machine on when you have a full load.
The Energy Saving Trust has a great guide to cutting your energy use here, as well as info on exactly how much you could save. 
As well as these simple steps, there are energy efficient home improvements you can carry out, such as improving your insulation, fitting double glazing, installing solar panels or replacing your gas boiler with a heat pump.
Before you embark on major projects like this, consider how long it will take for the increased energy efficiency and lower bills to pay back the initial outlay.
If it is right for you, then there are government loans to help with the cost of the work - click here to find out more about the Green Deal.
There is also a £7,500 grant available if you are replacing a gas boiler with a heat pump - click here for more details.

Save Water

A free water meter will make sure you only pay for the water you use, rather than an estimate - this means every drop you save will help bring your bill down.
Homes built since 1990 will already have a meter, but if you live in an older home you can ask your supplier to fit one. If you are renting, you will need to check with your landlord first.
Tips to save water include steaming rather than boiling veg, taking a quick shower instead of a bath, using leftover water for plants, rather than pouring it away. Turning off the tap while you’re brushing your teeth, and boiling the water you need, rather than a full kettle. You should also check for leaks and fix dripping taps.
Gadgets such a tap aerator, cistern bag or water-saving shower head could also help. Some water companies provide them free to customers via water efficiency scheme Save Water Save Money - click here to find out more.
The Consumer Council for Water, a government-funded body, also has tips and detailed advice on saving water and managing your water bills here.

Be insurance savvy

Whether you are looking after your prized possessions or a precocious puppy, you don’t want to scrimp on insurance - you could regret it if you ever have to claim.
But you can still reduce your bills without reducing your cover and peace of mind. Use comparison websites to research the best deals, but also check if you can get a better price by going direct.
Make sure your policy has the cover you need, but don’t pay for unnecessary extras. You could reduce your premium by agreeing a larger excess - the amount you pay towards any claim.
And some firms offer discounts if you have more than one type of insurance with them, such as car and home insurance.
Some policies have other benefits - for example some health insurance policies have healthy living incentives such as fitness watches or discounted gym memberships.
And always be ready to negotiate with insurance providers. You may think a quote is set in stone, but there may be scope to haggle. You are more likely to get a good deal when you are close to renewal, and make sure you are armed with figures from a price comparison site to help make your case.

Manage your subscriptions

If you’re watching Netflix every night, or hitting the gym religiously, then you are probably getting value for money for your monthly fee.
But what about services you’re not using? That gym membership is a waste of money if you only drag yourself along once or twice a month.
Go through all your subscriptions, and honestly assess whether you are using them enough to justify the outlay.
You may not have to give them up - a pay as you go gym membership may suit your lifestyle better.
And there could be cheaper alternatives to your favourite streaming service - check for incentives and introductory offers (make a note to cancel before higher charges kick-in). Check where your favourite shows are available - if you can watch on more than one platform, then choose the cheaper option.
You could also rotate subscriptions - choose one for a month, watch what you want, then switch to another to binge on those shows.
Some subscriptions are cheaper if you pay for a year up front, rather than monthly. Check if this could help you if you have the money available, but beware of an unexpected auto-renewal 12 months down the line.

Use tech trackers

Working out your budget used to mean spending an afternoon with a piece of paper and a pen, a calculator, and possibly a headache by the end of it all.
These days there are a range of tools to help you gain insight into your finances and manage your bills, including some that may be available within your online or mobile banking service.
ApTap helps you keep tabs on your bills, compares what you are paying to the rest of the market and flags up unused subscriptions. You can connect it to a TSB current account - click here to find out more.
And this Money Confidence guide from TSB includes useful budgeting tips and info.

Is government assistance available?

There is some government help available with bills.
If you are a lower income household, you may qualify for £150 Warm Home Discount - you can apply directly to your energy supplier between October and March.
If you receive income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit, Universal Credit, Child Tax Credit, or Working Tax Credit, then you may be eligible for cost of living support from the government - click here to find out more from the Help for Households Campaign
Additional help for pensioners includes the Winter Fuel Payment, and Pensioner Cost of Living Payment, with additional support for pensioners on disability benefits. Click here to find out more, and if you may be eligible.

What’s next?

Whether it’s being more energy efficient, saving water, or haggling with your insurance company, there are a range of ways you can take control of your finances, boost your Money Confidence and bring your bills down at the same time.
Try the tips in this guide, and you could save hundreds of pounds over the course of the year.

How can TSB help?
If you need a chat about your money we’re here to listen.
If you're struggling with the cost of living, debt or saving money, we’re here to help.