We recently hosted a free webinar with Money Magpie founder and CEO Jasmine Birtles to discuss ways to save money on your heating bills and around the home. We have all faced, and are likely to continue to face, greater financial pressures this winter, particularly after the rise of the energy price cap in October.
Joined by experts Tash Jackson from the Energy Helpline and Nick Hill from Money Helper, Jasmine discusses all things money saving, particularly when it comes to heating our homes for less whilst maintaining a good standard of living. One of our Money Magpies, Izzy, also joins the webinar to discuss some easy tips and tricks to cut the costs this winter.
Here, we summarise the main points from the webinar. You can also watch the webinar here.
The important thing to remember is that your lights and heating will still turn on.
Grab a meter reading as soon as possible and get a copy of your most recent bill.
Don’t cancel any direct debits.
Don’t be tempted to switch energy suppliers, as your current supplier will continue to run.
Any credit you have with your current supplier is protected.
If you are in debt with your supplier, the debt will remain.
Sit tight, you will be allocated a new supplier automatically.
It is difficult to predict whether your energy costs will go up by and by how much – when you move over to a new supplier you will most likely be put on their standard variable tariff.
In these unprecedented times, the standard tariff is likely the most affordable.
It may feel nerve wracking, but don’t worry! OfGem have put measures in place to protect your money through the transition.
can you contact your new supplier and ask for a new tariff?
At the moment, the standard tariff is probably the best one to be on, however you can always call and ask.
What ideas do you have for those who are panicking?
These times can be very stressful, but it is important to try to not panic.
For those on a standard variable tariff, you could be seeing an increase of around £139 a year.
Those on a prepaid tariff may see increases of £153 a year.
Thankfully, the price cap is mitigating any further price increases, but it can be tough when you are on a tight budget.
What benefits are available to help with bill payments?
The Winter Fuel Payment – If you were born on or before 26 September 1955 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills. You shouldn’t need to claim this, as it will come through with your usual benefits.
The Warm Home Discount – You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2021 to 2022. This money is not paid to you but taken directly from your heating bill. If you are on pension credits, this should apply automatically. You can also apply if you are on a low income or other benefits.
Get in touch with your supplier as this discount is on a limited basis if you are on a low income.
Cold Weather Payment – You will get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over 7 consecutive days.
You will get £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.
This is available for those on lower incomes or receive certain benefits.
Where can people seek help if they think they are in debt?
There is free debt advice available on the Money Helper debt advice tool. This tool helps you find both national and local support.
Are energy price increases cyclical?
Yes, they are. It is possible energy prices will decrease at some point in the future.
At the moment there is a lot of uncertainty and these are unprecedented times, but what is certain is that things will get better.
It is important to people to understand the steps they can take now to make things less difficult and save money where they can.
What are some tips that will save money in the home?
Check your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). You can find this at GOV.UK for free.
Pay by direct debit if you can and set up paperless billing. Some companies may charge you for a physical copy of your bill.
Check with your energy supplier and the local council to see if there are any schemes available to help you save energy and money.
For example, some councils send bags to put within your toilet cistern to reduce the amount of water used within the toilet.
Energy efficient showerheads are useful.
Loft insulation could reduce your bill by up to 25%.
Draft proof where you can around windows and doors.
Only run appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines and tumble dryers when you have a full load or when absolutely necessary.
You can use foil and line the wall behind your radiator. You can use both tin foil and speciality foil available at DIY shops. This pushes the heat back into the room rather than it leave through the wall.
Make sure your boiler and pipes are all in working order. It is cheaper to get this done in the summer.
Insulation is an upfront cost, but it can save you a lot of money. Insulating your loft can save you £145 a year, insulating your walls can save £110. Over the years it will pay itself off.
Invest in good socks, jumpers and hot water bottles! Heated blankets also save a lot of money, particularly if you have electric heaters as they cost a lot to run.
Heated airers for your laundry also save money. Turning the heating down in your home and drying your laundry on a heated airer is a cost-effective solution to drying your laundry.
Blocking drafts and using insulation tape to cover gaps. Even stuffing a towel into a gap in a door or window can make a difference.
Heavy curtains across large windows and doorways can keep heat in your home. Charity shops offer low-cost curtains and fabrics to do this.
Checking your boilers and switching from old boiler models can save you up to £230 a year.
Are there any ways to cut down other costs?
Buy the cheaper, non-branded version of foods if you can.
Do Secret Santa at Christmas if you have a big family to save on gifts.
Audience members say:
Wear lots of layers.
Create a food list or meal plan to prevent overbuying food to reduce waste and save money.
Try to cut down meat and fish consumption by one or two days a week.
Buy fresh and make meals from scratch. Avoid ready meals where possible as they cost a lot to buy.
Reduce your heating to one or two rooms where you spend most time. For example, in the evening only have the heating on in the living room or dining room.
Put the heating on a timer if you can.
Hot water bottles are useful.
Candles can help with warmth and light.
Turn appliances off at the plug as energy is still used even if the appliance is not running.
Look at other costs and work out where you can save money elsewhere. For example, could you switch to a lower cost broadband provider? Could you ask your current provider for a better deal?
Check your subscriptions and cancel anything you don’t use regularly.
Do an ‘MOT’ of your outgoings and check for anything you shouldn’t be paying for.
Are smart meters useful?
They are great for awareness of energy use and help you to manage this in a better way.
Is Black Friday a good time to buy?
You can get good deals on Black Friday such as mobile contracts.
Make sure the money you spend and what you buy is an intended cost and you are not spending money on items just because they are a lower price.
Try to only buy things you need.
Be aware some items are priced up higher than usual so that Black Friday deals are more appealing. The price may actually fall to what it was previously.
Camel Camel Camel is a website which allows you to see the price history of items. You can also set up alerts to let you know when an item you want is at a lower price.
It is important to check the selling tricks used on Black Friday and avoid spending money unnecessarily.
How can people on prepaid meters and tariffs save?
The Money Helper website has lots of advice on how to save money if you are on a prepaid tariff.
You can switch to a standard variable tariff if preferred.
What if you have oil-fired heating?
Check any announcements regarding the phasing out of oil-fired heating.
There are many guides on the Energy Helpline website to help out those who have alternative heating types.
How can you save on fuel and vehicle costs?
Ensure you are on the best insurance deal possible. Use comparison sites to help you.
Fitting a black box in your car can reduce your insurance costs.
Proactive maintenance is critical, do not leave something until it is completely damaged. For example, fix a chip in a windscreen before it becomes a crack.
Pre-plan your journey and fill your tank before you leave. Buying petrol and fuel at supermarkets can be considerably cheaper than stopping at services on the motorway to refuel.
Lift-sharing and getting public transport can help reduce fuel costs.
Audience members say:
Trading in your current car for parts can save money on a new vehicle.
Buying second hand vehicles can save you money.
Hybrid and electric vehicles save money on fuel.
any more tips and ideas to save money?
LED lightbulbs, smart kettles, smart thermostats, energy saving plugs and smart showerheads are all extremely useful.
Smart appliances can be turned on and off manually via your smartphone. If you leave lights or appliances on accidentally when you leave the house, you can turn them off remotely to save money.
Contact your local council and ask if there is any financial help available. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!
Get friendly with your neighbours, friends and family. Share food and essentials and help each other out.
Create a budget for your spending. There is a useful budget planner available on the Money Helper website.
Leave items in your online shopping baskets. This can trigger a discarded basket email with a discount code. You may also come back to your basket later and decide against your purchase.
Put your heating on a timer to reduce usage.
Turning your heating down by just one degree Celsius can save you 10% annually on your heating bills.