Anyone, regardless of age, would like to save money on their energy bills. However, for older people, especially the more vulnerable members of society, being able to afford such costs is becoming as rare as it is tough. Those on low incomes and state pensions can barely scrape by even before having to fork out on inflated energy bills.
Whilst the mainstream media do their best to highlight such issues, and politicians in parliament establish legislation whereby energy companies are to tell us the cheapest tariff or best tariff for our needs, we can do more than just sit in hope that one day we’ll magically pay much less on our energy bills.
So, with this is mind, what can the over 50s in the UK do to save money on their energy bills? Here is a step-by-step guide that we at Insure4Retirment have put together to help.
Step One – Speak to your current supplier
Switching suppliers can be a bit arduous for most, so if you’re relatively happy with your supplier, but would like cheaper rates, then speak to them first. Whether you’re struggling to pay your bills, or would like to discuss cheaper payment options, or even a cheaper tariff, the first port-of-call is with them.
If you are struggling with debts, they may be able to offer you a payment plan to ease the financial burden. Additionally, they may put a freeze on price increases, until you’re all paid up. Before you make any decision, it’s always best to contact your supplier first.
Step Two – Are you paying in the most efficient way?
As briefly mentioned, you may want to discuss more efficient ways of paying your provider. It is believed that the consumer can save themselves, on average, up to £100 if they opt to pay by direct debit as opposed to paying ad-hoc either on a monthly or quarterly basis. In addition, some suppliers give out discounts for early payment. Whilst this may only equate to a few pounds each month or quarter, over the course of the year, you could end up saving yourself a fair sum.
Step Three – What benefits are you entitled to?
Did you know that if you had a specific disability, you may be entitled to discounts from your provider? As shocking as it sounds, up to £20 billion of benefits went unclaimed in 2011 (Source: Age UK). Age UK is an excellent resource for additional information on disability entitlement; use their benefits calculator to see what disability benefits you may be entitled to. Once you have established this, speak to your provider to see how they can help – even if it’s a small discount, it all helps.
Step Four – Check your provider’s different tariffs
When speaking to your current provider, be sure to ask them what tariff works best for you, as well as whether you are on the cheapest one possible. Whilst they may not be proactive in offering this information to consumers, as part of a good customer service, they will answer any questions you have about changing tariffs (if they don’t, then it’s a good enough reason to switch providers anyway).
Step Five – Compare the tariffs of alternative providers
If you’ve gone to great lengths to stay with your supplier, but still can’t get the price down to what you can afford, then it’s time to start shopping around. When you do, be sure to have a good understanding of your current supplier, your tariff and what you’re paying on average a year. It’s also a good idea to know how you would like to pay moving forwards, as well as any discounts or benefits that you may be entitled to (as mentioned).
Use online resources and speak to friends and family to establish a list of providers to contact. Speak to them about a tariff that suits your needs. For example, over 50s who may still have children or grandchildren living at home will have significantly different needs to that of a couple, or even a single occupant.
Step Six – Check that switching provider is the right decision
Whilst you’ll want to start saving as soon as possible, it’s wise not to rush into any decision. You should ask yourself the following questions before making the switch:
- Can you even switch supplier? Those renting for example may not be allowed, so check with your landlord first.
- Have you paid off any debts with a previous supplier? Your current provider can prevent you from switching if there are any outstanding debts.
- Are there hidden costs and fees with your new supplier? Always check the small print of tariffs and contracts to ensure that you don’t get stung when that bill comes through your letter box.
- Is the tariff right for you? When calling a new supplier, you may get bombarded with information from a keen salesman trying to sell you a tariff that you don’t actually need. Be sure to check all of the fine details before agreeing to anything.
- Is the payment method right for you? Much in the same way you should check the details of your tariff, be sure to check you are on a suitable payment plan that you can afford or budget for.
These are just some of the ways in which we think you can save money on your energy bills, as well as what to do if you are considering making the big switch. If you would like to share any of your own experiences, or tips on saving money from your energy bills, we’d love to hear your thoughts below.