Millions of Brits have today woken up to a triple threat of rising energy bills, an increase in National Insurance contributions and higher council tax rates that combined have triggered an unprecedented shock to living standards.
Described by the Daily Mirror as the “worst attack on living standards” in a generation, the cost-of-living crisis has prompted calls from across the country for Chancellor Rishi Sunak to do more to stop millions being forced in to poverty.
Support offered so far “doesn’t even touch the sides for a lot of families”, one MP told The Times. “It feels unsustainable.” Money saving expert Martin Lewis said on BBC Five Live that the “country needs more help” if it is to negotiate through a period of spiralling prices.
“We are a first-world, rich nation, and I am talking about how people are going to survive as to whether they choose to freeze or starve,” he said. “I don’t feel that is right.”
Here are some of the top tips from Lewis and other experts on saving on your gas and electric bills in the coming months.
Check for energy deals – and avoid the ‘cons’
All these factors have contributed to a cost of living crisis that is “leaving many household budgets under strain”, said Ruth Jackson-Kirby on MoneyWeek. “If you are in this position, there are frankly no easy answers, but it’s important to look at anything you can do to offset rising bills.”
One of the first things you should do is to check if you are paying too much for your electricity and gas, Jackson-Kirby added. The high prices of wholesale energy means it may not be possible to get a better deal by switching now, but it’s still “worth checking in case you are on an exceptionally poor tariff”.
Switching energy firms “used to be the top tip to save money”, said The Sun. To make sure you’re getting the best deal avoid these four “energy cons” as firms try to trick you into paying more: estimated usage, different names for standard tariffs, hiding variable tariffs, and fixed deals.
If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills, “talk to your supplier as early as possible – they have to help”, said Andrew Capstick on MoneySavingExpert.com. Speaking on The Martin Lewis Money Show Live, the MoneySavingExpert.com founder advised consumers to “do nothing, stick on the price cap, don’t fix”.
Energy saving tips at home
With a “big chunk” of family budgets being spent on energy bills, “it makes sense to look for ways to reduce the amount of gas and electricity you use”, said Mehdi Punjwani on MoneySuperMarket. An average home of four occupants now uses 13 electronic appliances compared to just four in 1990. However, despite owning more appliances there’s “still a lot you can do to reduce energy consumption – and save money”. Punjwani’s top ways to save energy at home include:
- Turning off standby appliances
- Install a smart thermostat to make heating more efficient
- Turning down your thermostat
- Buy efficient appliances
- Install a new boiler
- Wash clothes at a lower temperature
- Be smarter about water
- Invest in double glazing
- Draught-proof your property
- Insulate the roof
- Monitor your usage
Norton Finance has ranked six energy saving home improvements to reduce bills, the Daily Express reported. Mid-terrace households could save nearly £5,500 on fuel bills within five years if they use these cost-effective “hacks”: draught-proofing, roof insulation, wall insulation, boiler upgrade, and double glazing.
One hack is to buy a £3 roll of self-adhesive draught-excluding tape to “block up unwanted gaps around windows, doors and chimneys that let cold air in and warm air out”. Doing this could save around £370 after five years.
Rhiannon Philps, a financial writer for NerdWallet, also shared her top tips for saving energy and reducing fuel bills. “Now is the time to make those changes that could help to cut your gas and electricity bills,” Philps said. “While you can’t do anything to lower the cost of energy, you can reduce the amount you use in your home to save money and help the environment at the same time.”
Included in her 42 top energy saving tips are:
- Don’t charge your phone overnight
- Boil the kettle once for the water you need
- Consider using a pressure cooker
- Only heat the rooms you’re using
- Use natural light
- Get an energy-efficient external door
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