Martin Lewis explains how to reduce your energy bills
Gas prices have increased by a staggering 250 percent since the turn of the year, and are still rising. Dozens of suppliers have gone under in recent weeks, with customers being moved to larger suppliers such as British Gas and EDF Energy. Once transferred, they are frequently being put on tariffs at high rates. Coupled with the empty supermarket shelves, rising food costs, rising fuel costs and the removal of the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift, Britons are facing a difficult few months.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng warned it “could be a very difficult winter” last month, with the rising cost of living showing no sign of slowing.
Professor Steve Schifferes, finance and economy specialist at City, University of London, warned a “new version of the winter of discontent certainly could be on the cards”.
Personal finance expert Lynn Beattie runs the Mrs Mummypenny website and is the author of The Money Guide to Transform Your Life.
She told Express.co.uk: “I just feel like it’s almost been put out there that ‘your bills are going to go up, deal with it’.
“There’s not much information being put out there as to what people can control, so yes, we have to face the facts.
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“Bills are going to go up. We have the cap in place, but obviously that’s gone up as well.”
Mrs Beattie explained we can all “change our behaviours a little bit at home” to reduce our energy usage and therefore save money.
She said: “All these little changes add up over the space of a year. So, have the thermostat on at 20°C rather than 21°C, spend four minutes in the shower rather than five, only boil the kettle for one cup of water rather than filling it up to the top.
“Try not to use the tumble dryer because tumble dryers are horrendous, but I know that’s not possible for some people.”
She said a tumble dryer cycle costs around £1 each time. Simply using a clothes airer could save you hundreds of pounds each year.
Britons are facing a difficult winter amid rising living costs.
After the Government slashed the Universal Credit uplift at the beginning of this month, people have had to make tough decisions with their money.
The Big Issue reported that a 17-year-old teenager has had to leave college after the cut left her around £86-per-month poorer.
She told the magazine: “One night I had to sit down and decide between my education or somewhere to live.”
Mrs Beattie said she had heard another woman had been forced to switch off her broadband simply to make ends meet each month.
She admitted some people are “already to the bone” as “yet again, the poorest people in this country are going to be impacted the most”.
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A series of “little things” can help you save money this winter.
Others who are cautious about their money, she advised, can switch supermarkets, they can create more food from scratch, they can do several “little things” to change their finances.
Mrs Beattie suggested those worried about their finances should make a spending diary. She writes a ‘Monday Money’ diary on her website where she details the week’s spending, and says she has saved “huge” amounts just by being aware of what she was spending money on.
She said: “Write down what you spend for a month or for a few weeks, just to get a handle on where your money’s going and what it’s being spent on.
“So, at the end of that month, you’ll know how much you’re spending on groceries,” adding that you will also know your impulse buy habits.
She stressed the importance of being aware of your spending and the “triggers that might make you spend a little bit more”.
A spending diary could help you cut costs this winter.
Another change to make, she said, is to go through the dreaded bank statement.
She said: “If you go through all your direct debits and get rid of the ones that are non-essential.
“Delete the ones you don’t need and then get the best deal on the ones that you do need. Talk to the companies, get a better deal if you can.
“Or if you can’t, switch to somebody else who will give you a better deal.”
With Christmas coming up, she said there are several ways to start building up money that will “pay for Christmas now”.
Mrs Beattie uses TopCashback every time she buys something online, which can then be turned into vouchers.
She added Tesco Clubcard and Sainsbury’s Nectar points can be turned into vouchers too.
She also said “honest conversations” should be had, adding: “Do they really need the latest electronic equipment?
“We’re far too caught up in this consumer society where you have to spend hundreds of pounds on each child. It’s unsustainable.”
Mrs Mummypenny can be found here. Her book, The Money Guide to Transform Your Life is available here.