How to save money on your utilities

The cost of living is soaring and whilst inflation has significantly climbed down recently, from a peak of 5.2% in September last year to 3.5% in March 2012, it is still a far cry from the Bank of Englandís target rate of 2%.

Itís not just inflation that is pushing up the cost of living; utilities remain a large part of the problem.

Gas and electricity prices have a huge influence generally on the rate of inflation and can significantly force levels to rise or fall, alongside a number of other influencing factors.

Insurance products such as car insurance and life insurance will also see a rise in costs this year, thanks to a gender discrimination ban which is set to be enforced by the European Union by the end of the year.

Whilst there are no fixed solutions to these financial woes, there are a few ways in which you can go about saving money.

Here are a few tips and hints to help you save money on your utilities:

Solar panels

The cost of gas and electricity has soared in the last 12 months, with all six of the leading UK providers raising prices significantly last autumn and there may be more price hikes on the way.

British Gas owner, Centrica, has hinted that prices could rise as the wholesale cost of gas for the UK could be around 15% higher this winter compared to last year. This could add an extra £50 to household bills; a move that will frustrate thousands who are already struggling to cope with the additional £200 average price hike they have had to contend with.

One simple option to help you escape the peril of increasing energy prices may involve producing our own energy. Solar panels have become increasingly popular over the last decade as they prove to be an effective and efficient way of using renewable energy.

Solar panels can be expensive initially, but they are designed to save hundreds on household bills in the long term. A typical solar system can set you back anywhere between £2,500 and £3,500 to install in addition to a panel system, which can be around £10,000.

Despite this, figures from the Energy Saving Trust highlight that homeowners could save up to £700 a year on energy bills with a solar panel system.
 
Compare solar panels with Money Expert.

If the process of producing solar energy is currently out of your price range, one way that you could start saving immediately could involve switching energy providers.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg stated last month that homeowners could save hundreds of pounds just by switching to a cheaper and more affordable tariff.

With over 120 different energy tariffs on the market, it could be worth shopping around to find a better deal for both you and your wallet.

Compare gas and electricity bills with Money Expert.
 

Home insurance

Home insurance is typically designed to safeguard your property in the event of fire or theft. Whilst building insurance might be a requirement placed on you by your mortgage lender, contents insurance often isnít. Contents insurance is, however, highly recommended in most cases as it typically covers the personal items within the property. This could extend to your garden items as well, but it would be worth checking your policy to see exactly what you are covered for.
  
One of the best ways to reduce your home insurance premiums would be to shop around for the rate that offers the best policy for your individual circumstances.

Money Expert could help to find the cheapest home insurance deal for you today.

Another way to reduce your costs would be to avoid making claims, unless you have to. Certain types of claim could push up the rates so it would be advisable to avoid anything that would result in you making a claim, such as tempting criminals by leaving expensive items on display in the home or garden.

Whilst this might usually be easy to avoid, it would be worth noting that garden crimes increase significantly in the summer months. Research from pension provider Saga found that one in 12 people aged 50 or more is a victim of garden theft. To make matters worse, the average garden claim is worth a staggering £620.

Itís not just the over 50s who are left stung by summer garden thefts. The survey found that two thirds of all UK adults keep a number of expensive items and equipment outdoors, ripe for the taking if left unguarded.

From barbecues and water features to bikes and lawnmowers, gardens can be a great source of goodies for summer criminals. Not only could it be worth reviewing your home insurance policy, but you could also consider taking out insurance on goods with a particularly high value inside or outside of your property.

 

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