Cost of living – utilities

There has been a lot of talk about the cost of living crisis, price caps and fortunately there is help available. DO make sure you’re claiming everything that you are entitled to. See our page on increasing your income. Even if you’re not feeling the pinch yet, now is the time to take some action, make some changes and save yourself some money. 

If you currently have a fixed deal with your energy provider then you won’t see any increase until that contract expires. However you will see a significant increase when it ends; there aren’t any fixed deals currently available so you’ll default to the Price Cap. The price cap does not mean you will pay £2,500 from October; that is just the average household. Your bill may be lower or higher, depending upon your usage; use less = pay less. 

Get your facts – how much did you spend last year on gas, electric and water? Check your bills or your energy provider’s App. You could be paying at least double that figure unless you take some action to reduce consumption. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/what-are-the-price-cap-unit-rates-/ 

How much does it cost to use your oven for an hour? It might not be as much as you think. https://www.sust-it.net/energy-calculator.php  – This helpful website will tell you the cost of using the appliances in your home.  

Here’s a quick summary of the typical costs of using household appliances:

Item Cost/hour Cost 10 minutes
Electric shower (9kW) £4.68 78p
Immersion heater (3kw) £1.56
Kettle (3kw) 26p
Electric Fire (2500W) £1.30 22p
Oven (2100 W) £1.09
Hob (2000 W) 94p 16p
Microwave (1000 W) 52p 9p
Fridge-freezer (300W) 16p (cycles on and off)  
LCD TV (120 W) 6p 1p

These figures are based on the 52p per kWh (the price cap after 1 October 2022, however following recent government intervention, the actual cost should be less. Find out more https://www.cse.org.uk/advice/advice-and-support/how-much-electricity-am-i-using

Here’s some top tips to save money on your utility bills; electric, gas and water. Please note that these aren’t all appropriate for every situation, but do use this as a checklist to make sure you’ve considered the options available to you.

Gas and Electric

  1. Insulation. Cavity wall and loft insulation are the best ways to keep the heat in and the cold out. Check if you can get this for free https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/free-cavity-loft-insulation/#freeinsulation 
  2. Next step is closing curtains, windows closed (there should still be trickle vents for air change). Fit curtains over external doors, make a sausage draft excluder for behind the front door. 
  3. Direct debit. Set up payment by direct debit if you can; the rates are cheaper and this spreads the cost over 12 months, making the winter months more affordable. 
  4. Use less. Using less gas and electricity is the sure-fire way to keep your bill low.  
  5. Turn everything off (except essentials like the fridge freezer, boiler, etc.) Only turn on the items you need. 
  6. Boiler controls – learn how to set them correctly https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/advice/thermostats-and-heating-controls and https://youtu.be/rszcxKsONgE 
  7. LED lightbulbs. An old style 100w bulb costs £85/year to run, an equivalent 11w LED bulb costs £9.40/year. Spending £3 on an LED bulb will save you £70/year.  
  8. Bleed the radiators find out how https://youtu.be/TuGIebYijcA 
  9. Central heating is more efficient and cheaper than portable electric heaters
  10. Jumpers. Don’t turn the heating on until everyone is wearing at least one jumper!  
  11. Air dry clothes or line dry, not Tumble dry
  12. Get support -find available funds from your supplier https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2022/08/grants-to-help-pay-energy-bills-check-what-your-supplier-offers/ 
  13. British Gas fund is open to everyone, even if your energy is from another supplier. 
  14. Smart Meter – free from your supplier and provides more accurate information about how much you are using and how much it is costing. 
  15. Contact supplier if struggling. Nobody wants you to be in hardship this winter. If you tell your supplier you are struggling then they will help you. 
  16. Stay warm and socialise there are many places open across our region that offer a warm welcome https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/warmwelcome 

High energy costs are likely to be with us for at least a year, so any savings you can make now will benefit you every month. 

Phone and Internet

  1. What are you paying for? are their mobile contracts or services you don’t need anymore? TV channels you don’t watch?
  2. Charges and fees? are you being charged extra fees? There may be a better package more suited to your needs.
  3. Contact your supplier If you’re having difficulty paying for your phone or broadband service, speak to your provider as soon as possible to see how they might be able to help you.
  4. Social tariffs are available if you’re on certain benefits, see the OFcom website 
  5. Check if you’re out of contract you may be able to get a better deal elsewhere. Comparison websites such as https://www.moneysupermarket.com/
  6. Price match can your existing supplier match (or better) offers available elsewhere

Water bills

  1. Water meter. If there are more bedrooms than people in your home then a water meter could be a good choice. https://www.ccwater.org.uk/watermetercalculator/ 
  2. WaterSure scheme – if you have a meter and claim certain benefits then you may qualify for this scheme https://www.stwater.co.uk/my-account/help-when-you-need-it/help-with-paying-your-bill/watersure-scheme/ 
  3. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/cut-water-bills/
  4. Showers:
    1. not baths. 
    2. Cooler showers are better for your skin so turn the temperature down a little
    3. 5 minutes max
    4. Turn off the water while applying shampoo, conditioner and shower gel
  5. Washing up – save it up. Do it all in one go.  

Useful Websites

There are loads of really useful websites with plenty of good ideas for cutting back and saving money:

https://helpforhouseholds.campaign.gov.uk/ – Government website of support for household bills including utilities help, discounts, supermarket offers

https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en# – free money guidance 


https://cookingonabootstrap.com/ – Jack Monroe’s guide to cooking on a budget

https://www.bigissue.com/life/money/energy-bills-diy-tips-to-keep-home-warm-winter/ The Big Issue guide to keeping warm this winter


What we can do to help

Advance Credit Union is about helping our Members to flourish, not just survive. We will do what we can to help people manage their money well, save regularly, borrow affordably when they need to. See our page about increasing your income including claiming the benefits you may be entitled to advancecu.org.uk/cost-of-living-income. Plus our page on eating well for less advancecu.org.uk/cost-of-living-food

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