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Cost of household bills tots up to £138K

Cost of household bills tots up to £138K

Category: Money

Updated: 12/10/2017
First Published: 16/04/2015

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

How much do you spend on your household bills in a year? Chances are, quite a lot. Everyday bills can take a significant chunk of your household income, and over time, it can seriously add up – and when you look at it over your lifetime, it reaches an eye-watering sum.

Rising cost of bills

According to research from Santander Current Accounts, UK households will spend almost £138,000 on basic household bills throughout their lifetime, and costs are rising. Their analysis found that, in the past 10 years, bills have risen at more than double the rate of inflation: the average cost of household bills has increased by 81% in the last decade, over twice as fast as the 37% increase in inflation (as measured by the Retail Prices Index) over the same period.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, gas prices are the biggest driver of household bill increases, rising by 185% in the last 10 years, closely followed by electricity costs, which have more than doubled (up 120%). Water bills have risen by 66% and council tax has increased by 27% – happily, at a slower rate than inflation – while TV, home phone & broadband costs have barely risen by comparison, up by just 6% over the period.

Just where does your money go?

Despite council tax having increased at below-inflation rates, it still takes up the biggest chunk of household income, with the typical household spending an estimated £36,875 on council tax over its lifetime. Gas and electricity bills are close behind, clocking in at £30,555 and £30,472 respectively, while the typical household will spend £21,819 on water over the years. TV, phone and broadband again seems to be the most competitive of the bunch, accounting for £18,226 of lifetime household expenditure.

Overall, the figures show that you and your household will spend an impressive £137,948 on bills during your lifetime, and if that sounds like a lot, it's time to do something about it!

How to cut your bills down to size

There are plenty of ways to cut your bills down to size, and while it can't be denied that they'll still take up a sizeable chunk of your income, any pounds you can shave off will be well worth it. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Double check your council tax banding. It's estimated that thousands of homes across the country are on the wrong tax banding, and that means you could be paying more than you need to. If you're overpaying, not only could you reduce your annual bill, but you could receive a payment that's backdated to when you moved in to your home! It could tot up to thousands, so it's well worth checking (just make sure you've got a strong case before you claim, otherwise you could end up paying more).
  • Give your gas and electricity provider up-to-date meter readings. Santander's research found that as many as 13% of bill payers have never supplied a meter reading or couldn't remember the last time they gave one, and this in itself could mean you're paying more than you need to. Don't settle for estimates – if you want to make sure you're paying the right amount, give your supplier the details.
  • Compare tariffs. When was the last time you compared your gas and electricity tariff? Santander's figures show that, on average, the last time bill payers reviewed their providers for a better deal was 13 months ago, and many could have changed in that time. You could be missing out on hundreds of pounds worth of savings – found that households could save up to £405 just by switching supplier – so it's worth a look!
  • Find a better broadband deal. Like with gas and electricity, you could be paying too much for your TV, home and broadband deal if you haven't compared the options recently. Providers regularly boast attractive deals to nab new customers, so why not take advantage? Use our handy search tool to see if you can find a better package at the right price.
  • Be energy and water efficient. Simple but effective – if you really want to lower your household bills, be conscious of how you're using your resources. Even things as simple as turning lights off when you leave a room, switching off appliances rather than leaving them on standby, using a water-saving shower head and only using the dishwasher when you've got a full load can make all the difference, and you can also be confident that you're doing your bit for the planet as well as your wallet.

What next?

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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.