Utilities are an essential part of everyday life. From energy and water efficiency to schemes and support, there are lots of ways to ensure that you don’t have any issues in your utility supply. This can be particularly important for those on home dialysis, or with medication that needs to be refrigerated.
As the cost of living drives up prices, some people who were just balancing the books before are now struggling to make ends meet. We explain your options if you encounter a problem with your supply or your finances.
How to save money on your utility bills
1. Turn appliances off standby
Appliances on standby have to use energy to be ready to turn back on. Over time, this energy use adds up… and so could your bill.
Switch appliances like digital TV boxes off at the plug and unplug phone chargers that are plugged in but not charging.
2. Make energy efficient changes if you can
Energy efficient choices can make a big difference with relatively little effort. Some changes you can make immediately, at no cost, include:
- turning your thermostat down by 1c
- closing the doors when heating is on so you are only heating the spaces you're in
- washing at 30c where you can.
It's also worth considering swapping to an eco-showerhead and replacing halogen bulbs with LED bulbs.
3. Prioritise small repairs
Dripping taps and heaters in need of draining can lead to unnecessary costs appearing on your bills.
Keep your spending in check by getting small issues fixed as soon as possible – ask your landlord if you rent, or a local energy improvements scheme may be able to help you.
4. Don’t use more energy than you need to
Only putting enough in the kettle to boil the water you are going to use immediately and always fully loading your washing machine (in line with the manufacturers' maximum load guidance), are two great ways to stop yourself from wasting your money.
5. Turn off the sprinklers and hosepipe
Using a hosepipe could cost up to £1.50 an hour, so the savings from keeping the garden watered with a watering can will add up. If you have space, install a water butt and use free rainwater on your plants instead.
6. Make sure you’re on the right energy tariff for your use
Think carefully about whether you switch to a fixed tariff or stay on the government price cap.
On a fixed tariff your costs are fixed and you are protected from price hikes during the contract, but at the moment fixed tariff prices are high. The government price cap is currently cheaper than most fixed rate tariffs. For advice to help you decide which kind of tariff is best for your household, use the MoneySavingExpert guides to best energy deals for consumers.
Do you have a storage heater? As storage heaters use the most energy as they heat up and store heat overnight to heat your home over the day, using a cheaper-at-night tariff is a good move.
7. Sign up for the Priority Services Register
The Priority Services Register (PSR) helps utility companies look after domestic customers who have additional communication, access or safety needs.
The PSR helps them tailor their services to support households who may need extra help and is free to join. This could include them providing you with specialist support during a power cut or making alternative heating and cooking facilities available to you if the delivery of your gas is interrupted.
8. Take regular meter readings
Unless you have a smart meter, your energy provider will estimate your usage if you don't provide regular meter readings.
If they overestimate, you can end up overpaying for what you’re using. If they underestimate, you will owe them money that you have not been billed for and could receive a steep bill unexpectedly. To avoid these problems it’s always best to provide a meter reading as soon as your provider asks you for one.
9. Check you are getting all the benefits available to you
The Kidney Care UK Welfare and Benefits Check service, delivered in partnership with Auriga Services Ltd, is designed to to maximise your income by ensuring that all welfare benefits and other sources of income (warm home discounts, water and energy savings, and financial assistance grants) are identified and claimed. Contact our team to arrange a free Welfare and Benefits Check for your household.
Read the Kidney Care UK's practical guide to maximising your income through the benefits and schemes that are available to you.
10. Tell your supplier if you're worried about paying your bills
If you are struggling to pay your bills, contact your energy supplier as soon as possible. You'll find contact details for your current energy supplier on a recent energy bill.
Your energy supplier is required to work with you to find a solution. This could be a payment plan, where you pay small amounts over a longer period of time, or the installation of a prepayment meter, so that you pay your utility bills in advance and can control your spending.
The British Gas Energy Trust is an independent charitable trust set up to support people facing energy debt across England, Wales and Scotland. You don't have to be a British Gas customer to access their specialist money and energy advice.
If you need additional support to manage rising utility costs, contact our Advocacy team who can talk through your options and help you decide on next steps.