As we approach the winter months utility bills become a hot topic for many households in the UK.
We are all about to start using our heating more, lights will be going on earlier and when factored into council tax and water charges it can quickly add up and stretch our monthly budget.
In this short article we’ll see what Brits are struggling to pay most through our handy infographic below, and also what we can all do to reduce our bills at a time of year when our financial resources are pushed to their limits.
Almost one in ten Brits currently owe £200 or more in water bill arrears. rather shocking when you consider a typical annual water bill is £386, meaning one in ten Brits are over six months in arrears with their water company.
20% of Brits have arrears in excess of £100 on their energy bills and almost one in ten Brits are in arrears to the tune of £300 for their council tax.
Hardly surprising then that 25% of those surveyed have ignored a utility bill, with 50% already receiving a late payment notice.
But, when we start to borrow to meet payments it can all start to get very messy.
40% of those surveyed admit to having to borrow from friends or family to keep up with payments and another 40% saying they have had to use their overdraft to pay essential bills.
It’s a slippery slope that once on, is hard to get off.
Yes, the bill is paid. However, it hasn’t really gone anywhere, the creditor has simply changed from your supplier to your lender and there is still another bill to be dealt with the following month.
There are better ways to deal with the bill, I’ll explain how.
How can I reduce my utility bills?
- Turn off your tap when you brush your teeth, it can save up to 6 litres of water per minute
- Buy a cistern replacement device and have it fitted in your toilet cistern to reduce the volume of each flush
- Take shorter showers, they can use anything between 6 and and 45 litres per minute
- Fix any dripping taps, it can waste 15 litres a day – that’s a whopping 5,500 litres of water wasted a year
- Fully load your washing machine and dishwasher, cutting out the need for several small washes
- Use a watering can instead of a hosepipe – hosepipes churn out a massive 1,000 litres of water an hour. Water your plants in the morning and late afternoon to reduce evaporation, saving even more water
- Fill a jug with water and put it in your fridge, that way you won’t need to run the tap to get the water cold
- Switch energy suppliers and fix the price, pay by Direct Debit and opt for paperless billing – this is the cheapest way to pay your bills. Plus, fixing the price means you’re protected against any potential price hikes
- Only boil what you need – your kettle is one of the biggest energy guzzlers in your home, only fill it with enough water to make your brew or use on the hob
- Don’t use standby mode as appliances still use large amounts of power. An average computer screen left on overnight uses roughly the same amount of energy to laser print 400 A4 pages
- Unplug chargers, they continually draw energy when left plugged in
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient, compact fluorescent light bulbs or LEDs
- Turn lights off in rooms that aren’t being used and make the most of natural light before switching them on
- Fully load washing machines and dishwashers so you don’t do several smaller washes wasting a ton of energy
- Don’t heat unused rooms, they need airing out to prevent damp, but they don’t need to be constantly heated – it’s just wasting energy and money
I’ve reduced my utility bills but I’m still struggling
First and foremost speak to your supplier or local council if you’re struggling to keep up with your bills or you have fallen into arrears.
They are much more reasonable if you contact them, rather than them having to chase you for payment.
Ask if you can arrange a payment plan to pay back the money you owe, but stress what you can afford and don’t overstretch yourself or you’ll just end up back at square one.
If, after everything above you’re still struggling to keep up with your payments, it may be worth speaking with your local Citizens Advice Bureau or the Money Advice Service who can help to advise you with your finances.
It is better to seek help as quickly as possible to avoid letting matters spiral out of control, there is plenty of help out there so don’t worry.
Have you ever struggled to pay your utility bills?