How much do you spend on your household bills? Yesterday we reported that many people underestimate the annual cost of their bills, but additional research from NatWest has revealed that a third of respondents could actually be saving money on those bills – but that they're missing out by never shopping around.
The research, which questioned consumers in England, Scotland and Wales, found that a worrying number of households are missing out on opportunities to save money on their household bills.
The Household Bills Survey found that almost a third of consumers never shop around to find a better deal, with those in Scotland, Wales and London being the most apathetic when it comes to their expenditure. At the other end of the scale, consumers in Yorkshire & Humber and East England are most likely to shop around, with these consumers potentially saving the most.
Interestingly, while council tax is cited as the household bill offering the worst value for money – and is unfortunately also one of the few bills that can't be changed – energy suppliers are next in line. This is perhaps unsurprising given the lack of price cuts the industry has put forward in recent years, despite wholesale costs falling dramatically, with only E.ON cutting standard prices so far this winter.
On a happier note, these are also the bills for which people are most likely to shop around – and they could also levy some of the priciest savings. Figures from energyhelpline.com, for example, show that the typical household on a standard rate tariff could save as much as £539 by switching to a low-cost fixed rate alternative, so it could definitely pay to shop around.
However, there's another way that you could save money on your energy bills without switching supplier, and that's by becoming more energy efficient. NatWest's research found that around half of consumers feel that they're not doing enough to become energy efficient, with those living in London the least energy-conscious.
The majority of those surveyed have double glazing, energy saving lightbulbs and insulation in their home, with these being key ways to boost your energy efficiency. Even if you don't currently have these measures installed in your home, it needn't cost a fortune to rectify – energy-saving lightbulbs, for example, are relatively inexpensive, and even double glazing and insulation needn't cost a fortune if you have the right support.
There are various Government schemes, grants and incentives that could help you become more energy efficient at a fraction of the cost, but greater awareness is needed: a third of consumers aged 18-34 are unaware of the grants provided by Government and energy suppliers, and although awareness improves with age, one in 10 of those aged 65+ haven't heard of energy saving schemes.
There are simpler ways you could save money, too, with things like smart heating and electricity control systems giving you more control over how you heat your home – and how much you pay for your energy. And what about the rest of your bills? Simply shopping around for your utility tariffs, broadband, and even your insurance policies can make all the difference, and could mean you're one step closer to saving money on your household bills.
Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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