There’s so much going on in life that thinking about how much our energy bills and other regular household bills are costing us doesn’t really get much time devoted to it in most of our lives. But by analyzing what you spend on the basics – and essentials – of life, you could end up saving yourself hundreds of dollars each year. And if you can get the same services for less, surely you can think of a better way to save that money you are saving? Like a weekend away with the guys, or a trip somewhere special with the kids, for example.
What used to put a lot of people off switching energy or telecoms or insurance providers in the past, was the hassle that came with the process of finding a better alternative and then the effort of actually closing down one account and opening another.
Today, however, it’s a different story. You can use price comparison websites to find better priced electricity plans, for example. All you need to do is put in your zip code and the sites will search for the best deals in your area. You’ll get a range of suppliers and different contracts to choose from.
Things to think about when looking at the different energy quotes are whether the rates are fixed, variable or index linked. If they’re fixed, you have the security of knowing that prices won’t change for the length of your contract. On the other hand, if you choose to take a variable or index linked rate, then you won’t be tied into a higher fixed price when energy prices drop. However, you’ll also have months where you pay more for your energy according to the vagaries of the market. If you’re thinking about changing your electricity supplier, check out whether companies will offer you a better price for an energy bundle – for example, when you get your electricity and natural gas supplied by the same company.
There are also different billing options to think about when choosing an energy supplier. Do you prefer to know how much your energy is going to cost you each month? If that’s the case, you should take out a flat billing plan, where you know in advance how much your energy bill is going to be each month. If your credit history is poor, you may be better off getting a prepaid energy plan – where you pay for the energy you are going to use in advance – much as you would with a prepaid cell phone. This is also a useful option if you are only going to reside somewhere temporarily as then you’re not tied into a long term contract. Another way to reduce costs is to go for time of use billing – this is where the energy costs vary according to what hours you are using electricity. You’ll need a smart meter fitted to have time of use billing. If, for example, you have pre-programmable appliances so that your washing machine or dishwasher can run at night, for example, you could benefit from cheaper electricity rates during those off-peak hours.
When you get a range of quotes from different energy suppliers, don’t just go for the cheapest price without checking all of the small print – sometimes the terms and conditions connected to a cheap price may mean you’re better off choosing a slightly higher tariff contract that offers more flexibility.