The cost of a cosy house

TURNING UP THE HEAT ON BILLS

Household bills have increased by as much as eighty per cent in the past five years. With everything from mortgages, to council tax to food and water bills having increased significantly we’re all feeling the pinch.

Gas and electricity prices have shot up too, and it’s hardly surprising with a barrel of oil now coming in at record price of over $100.

But while you may not be able to change global grain prices you certainy can switch energy provider if you’re in need of a better deal.

Consumer outrage

A recent survey suggested that eight out of ten people felt ripped off by their energy providers and this isn’t that surprising with many of the big companies still announcing huge profits.

Energy prices may be at a historic high, but that’s not to say that there aren’t competitive deals available. Dual fuel can cost an average family as much as £1,000 a year, but by switching provider you could make savings of £200-300 depending on where you live. A family paying £1,000 a year in Glasgow for example could save £303 by switching to a British Gas dual fuel deal instead of taking electricity deal from Scottish Power and their gas from EDF Energy.

According to MoneyExpert research 3,117,000 people switched their gas supplier in between March and August last year while 3,596,000 people switched their electricty indicating just how easy the process is.

Protection deals

If you’re looking for a bargain then it could be worth considering a price protection deal. With these polices your energy supplier will guarantee the price you pay for the energy you use up to a certain date – this means that you won’t be hit by any surges in energy prices.

Once you get to the end of the deal you just have to shop around again and see who’s offering the best rates. At present Scottish Power’s Price Fall Tariff is in demand as it stops your dual-fuel prices rising above a certain level while at the same time allowing customers to benefit from any price drops. It’s estimated that this policy will cost the average household just under £800.

Go online

Hitting the web is one way to get the lowest energy prices. Look at the deals offered on supplier websites. Sometimes the best deals are left online long after they have been withdrawn from other outlets.

Winter warmer

If you’re going to be over 60 by the time next winter comes around then be sure to take advantage of the winter fuel allowance.

At present there are over nine million older people out there who have failed to take advantage of the Government scheme. If you’re 60 you could receive around £200 towards your heating but if you’re over 80 you could be eligible for as much as £300, which could go a long way to keeping the house warm.

Energy loyalty doesn’t pay

Despite the fact that over 6 million households switched energy supplier over six months in 2007 research indicates that there are over 9 million households who have never switched. Energy costs make up a significant percentage of our household bills but by switching around you could easily free up £200-300 for something more exciting.

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