It’s hard to avoid the fact that energy prices are on the increase, and despite resounding advice to “shop around”, less of us than ever before are willing to try switching suppliers. A lack of knowledge and information on our own energy spending is to blame- all too often, households simply don’t understand their own energy bills, and it seems plenty of us have just about given up.
But now isn’t the time for indifference. More and more of us are classed as living in “fuel poverty” than ever before. Educating ourselves on our energy spending is the first step in taking control and making our energy bills affordable again.
Understanding your energy bills
It’s important to take the time to understand your energy bills. If you’re being hit with a large amount to pay at the end of each quarter, it’s important to ask yourself why. Reports of rising energy costs have made some of us complacent and all too ready to place the blame elsewhere, but taking a look at your own spending is the first step to reducing your bills.
Keep track of your old bills, whether they be printed or paperless, and pay attention to any trends that may appear. If used properly, your energy bill can give a good insight into why you’re paying what you are. This mainly involves your energy usage, which should be displayed in KWh. On receiving the bill, make sure that the usage displayed on the bill corresponds to your meter reading- estimate bills are often significantly higher than actual ones and can see you paying for energy that you haven’t used. If you receive an estimate bill with a higher meter reading, get in touch with your supplier who can send you a revised copy of your bill.
Other factors that can affect your bill
While your energy use is the key factor in calculating what you pay every quarter, there are other factors which can cause your energy bill to be higher than it should be. Paying by direct debit can allow you to pay up to 10% less on your bills compared by paying by another method, so it is always worth making the switch. Many suppliers also offer a discount for paying your bill on time, so it’s worth checking to see if you are offered this initiative. In a similar way, choosing to go paperless and manage your bills via email can sometimes be rewarded with discounts on your bills.
Different tariffs can also mean different rates. It can often be worth reassessing the tariff you are on and asking to switch to a cheaper option, depending on your needs. Pre-pay and combined (gas and electricity) tariffs can sometimes work out to be more expensive, as you tend to pay for the convenience that these tariffs offer.
Remember to keep an eye on the total of each bill and look out for any noticable changes. While bills tend to work out higher in winter and lower in summer, mistakes can and do happen. If you feel you may have been over charged, contact your supplier and ask for a breakdown of your energy spending. Even if the bill is correct, it can help you gain a better understanding of your energy use and how you can cut back in the future.
Apps and software
A number of new technologies are now available which make it easier to understand your spending and cut your energy use. Systems such as PassivLiving Heat, Nest and HIVE all make it easier to integrate your energy usage with everyday life, replacing your conventional thermostat with a smartphone app or computer software. Features such as temperature alerts, distance control of heating and 24-7 access to your account make it easier to track your spending and avoid using more energy than you plan to, reducing the risk of a nasty surprise coming through your letterbox at the end of the quarter! Upfront costs of £150+ mean they may not be an obvious choice for those struggling day-to-day in fuel poverty, but the savings often allow devices to pay for themselves in less than two years.
New technologies, software and apps are constantly emerging, designed to make energy efficient living possible and reduce the risk of households undergoing financial hardships because of their energy spending. Though investing may be a big step, having a thorough insight into how your energy use is calculated is a powerful weapon against rising energy prices, and one which might just see you come out on top.
Image sourced: Mike1024tagsenergy pricesenergy spending