Energy bills can seem like a minefield, from figuring out whether you’re getting a good deal, to fearing sudden high bills and negotiating spiders in the meter cupboard - it’s a typical life admin task that’s forever falling to the bottom of the list.  

With many of us using more energy at home at the moment, bills could be creeping up. According to USwitch, UK households are using on average 25% more electricity and 17% more gas than before lockdown.

Getting on top of your utility bills is easier than you might think, a great way to save money and watch your usage, which is better for the environment too. Here are 5 simple steps to help you regain control and bathe in lower-stress utilities.

1) If you only do one thing... check you’re getting the best deal

Money Saving Expert says many households could save a whopping £350 a year by switching energy provider! Getting stuck on a pricey energy contract is easily done, you check it once, diligently pay your bills and months later realise you’ve been paying way more than you needed to. If you need a little nudge to get the right deal, then a great place to start is MSE’s cheap energy club comparison. They’ll notify you when there’s a cheapest supplier available, depending on what saving you’d be willing to switch for. Many providers give incentives to switch (especially if you refer a friend) and you can often save by combining heating and electricity and paying by Direct Debit. If you’re renting you have the right to switch too. And don’t worry, switching provider won’t mean you get cut off, all that changes is which company bills you.

2) Read, read, read that meter

The best way to only pay for what you use is to submit actual meter readings. If you don’t your energy provider will sometimes use estimated readings which are based upon average or historic consumption, meaning you might pay more than you need to or get stung with a higher bill later on. Add a reminder in your calendar to make it a habit. Citizens Advice has a useful guide for how to read your meters.    

3) Get smarter

Smart meters are the newest type of gas and electricity meters that automatically send digital meter readings to your supplier, saving you the hassle of estimated bills or taking manual readings. They’re being installed for free for most homes that want them over the next few years. The benefits are that you get accurate billing and a better handle on your energy usage, via a real-time meter in your home. While most providers are unlikely to be installing smart meters at the moment due to social distancing restrictions, you can usually register your interest in getting one when they’re available.    

4) Go paperless, try a Direct Debit

Going paperless can make it a lot easier to keep track of your usage (and saves trees too). Most providers offer an online account or app that’s quick and easy to log into, submit meter readings and contact your energy supplier with any queries, which will save you listening to questionable call centre queue playlists! Some even charge less if you opt to go paperless and pay by Direct Debit, saving you up to £85 per year (MSE).

5) Consider switching to green energy  

Once you’re on top of how much you’re using and whether you’re getting a good deal, you could also consider switching to green energy. Renewable energy from sources like wind or solar are an amazingly easy way to reduce your carbon footprint, at a few clicks of a (wind powered) button. Thinking of switching to green energy? Read our top tips.   

Want to get saving on your other household bills too? Check out these top tips #LiveSavvy

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