Most of us are feeling the pinch and worrying about the rising cost of living. Shocking rises in the cost of fuel and energy are hitting UK consumers hard. In a bid to find ways to alleviate the blow, we have put together a guide on lowering bills and paying less for essential items.
Why are costs rising?
There are many reasons why gas energy prices have risen so sharply. Firstly, a cold European winter in 2020/21 put pressure on supplies and the amount of gas stored was therefore lower. Last summer failed to generate enough wind to create much energy from wind turbines. Demand has increased from Asia as well, which has hit supplies. Lastly, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had an impact, as Russia is the world’s biggest gas exporter.
Petrol prices have also risen due to the war and it’s effect on global supply markets.
Food prices have soared due to rising fuel costs affecting the food industry, as well as price hikes in agricultural manufacturing.
What you can do to save money
The average household will see an energy bill increase of around £690 a year from 1st April when the energy cap is raised. The energy price cap previously kept bills at a certain level, but as of 1st April suppliers can charge up to 54% more by law.
As normal, your bill will go up and down depending on how much energy you use. Here’s some tips to keep your bills lower:
- Turn down the thermostat. For every degree you cut on the thermostat you will save around 4% on your energy. The World Health Organisation says that 18 degrees is the optimum temperature for a home, so try aiming for lower than your usual setting if you normally like a warm house.
- Try only having the heating on when required rather than all day every day. Substantial savings could be made.
- Fit a water-saving shower head. Reducing water usage will help lower water bills, particularly for those on a meter. Many of us can even get these water-saving gadgets for free from Save Water Save Money so it’s worth having a look at their site.
- Showers are cheaper than baths. A 5 minute shower uses significantly less water than a tub full of water.
- Pile dirty items up for a once-a-day wash up.
- Turn off the tap between needing it while brushing your teeth.
- Turn off the shower between needing to rinse with it. So, while washing with soap or shampoo you could turn it off, and then back on again for the rinse. Cutting a minute off your shower-using time could save £75 a year in bills.
- Avoid using the tumble drier. Air-dry clothes instead.
- Turn down the water and heating temperatures on your combi-boiler.
Fed up of seeing higher prices every time you go to fill up? You’re not alone. These ideas can help you save on your petrol expenditure by up to a third:
- Take any non-necessities out of your car. The heavier your car is, the more fuel it uses. Consider removing a roof rack if you have one.
- Avoid filling up to a full tank. A full tank weighs the car down which uses more fuel- it’s better therefore to fill it to a half tank.
- Drive in the highest gear possible (without labouring the engine). Doing so uses less petrol.
- Find the cheapest petrol prices possible. Petrolprices.com can help you find the cheapest garage near you, and they have an app to use on the go too.
It can be hard to strike a balance between filling, good quality meals without splashing the cash. Here are some great ideas for saving on your food bill without sacrificing taste:
- Stock up your store cupboard. Meals made from a base of pasta, rice or noodles will prove cheaper, and can be combined with other store cupboard ingredients such as spices or tinned tomatoes to save money.
- Swap fresh fruit and vegetables for frozen. Not only does frozen food last longer, but it’s also convenient and kinder to your wallet. There are substantial savings to be made on frozen fish, too. For example, frozen salmon fillets can be half the price of fresh.
- Eat less meat. Meat is expensive, so one way to create a satisfying meal without missing out is to use less meat in a recipe and then add bulk via other ingredients such as chickpeas or lentils.
- Choose your cuts wisely. Chicken legs are usually half the price of breast fillets, for example.
- Beware of supermarket tricks. The most profitable items are usually at eye-level, so make sure you look around them for own-brand products or better deals. Also, the ‘finest’ products aren’t necessarily worth it. Try the next level down and see if you really can taste the difference! Downshifting your brand levels can save you up to 30%.
- Often, own-brand products are made in the same factory as the brand name ones. Choosing own-brand products can result in major savings.
- Know the difference between use by dates and best before dates. If a product is listed as ‘use by’ then don’t go past that date as it might make you unwell. This is particularly true for dairy, fish, meat and eggs, even if they appear fine. You can use items past the ‘best before’ date- just use your discretion as to whether it tastes or smells ok.
- Write a meal plan. Planning out the week’s dinners and organising your shopping list accordingly will stop you from making costly impulsive decisions in the shop.
- Arm yourself with some simple, inexpensive-to-make recipes. This BBC page has lots of great suggestions.