How to save money at home

Saving money is something that most people would like to do but, very often, they don’t know how to start. Identifying the actions that can save you money is a skill but, luckily, it is something that is easy to learn and improves quickly once you have got to grips with the basic idea.

Areas where you can save energy

Probably one of the most common, and one of the easiest areas to save money in, is making savings on your energy consumption. Consumption can be roughly grouped into three main areas; heating, activities and latent power.

Heating

Keeping your home at a comfortable temperature throughout the year is important for everyone but even more so for the elderly, disabled or those with children. Reducing the amount of money spent on heating/cooling your house can be achieved by reducing usage, switching suppliers, replacing your current equipment (such as your boiler) with more efficient models or increasing the amount of insulation in your property.

Activities

Everyday activities such as cooking, turning on the lights and watching TV all use power. Unlike heating, it can be easier to reduce your usage of these items by using different cooking methods, using more efficient lighting or turning off the TV when no-one is watching it. This is also the category where energy efficient appliances can make a large difference.

Latent power

This category covers all the essential items which draw power such as your refrigerator, the igniter on your boiler or your house alarm (if you have one). It can be very hard to make savings in this area without replacing the appliances.

Land line telephone

Everyone needs to make calls from time to time, but understanding when calls cost less can be a good way of keeping costs low; many suppliers have peak and off-peak rates, with the peak time calls costing more than off-peak calls so understanding when each applies can save you a considerable amount if you can wait to make your call. However, one thing to be aware of is that most telephone companies have stopped offering free calls at evenings and weekends so make sure you check to see if you still get them.

Many suppliers offer a number of value-added services such as caller ID or an answering service for a few pounds extra a month. If you don’y use these services, it is worth cancelling them so you’re not paying for something that you don’t need.

Finally, be aware that telephone companies charge what is called a “Set up” charge; a charge for making the call even before you’ve started to speak. This is usually only a few pence but making lots of short calls can be costly so make sure you know how much this charge is before calling.

Broadband

The cost of broadband can vary hugely even though the basic product is virtually the same no matter who it’s supplied by. Most broadband providers charge based on the broadband speed and whether a data limit (also known as a usage cap) is applied although, at the time of writing, this is becoming increasingly less common. This means that there is very little way to save money on your broadband other than finding a lower cost supplier.

Mobile phone

Choosing the most cost effective mobile phone plan can be very complex but there are a few things to look out for. Firstly, it always costs to more to take a contract with a handset than choosing a SIM only tariff and buying the handset separately so, unless money is very tight, a SIM only tariff is highly recommended. Secondly, the latest smartphone handsets cost more than basic or older models so be honest with yourself, do you really need the latest phone or will an older or more simple one do? And lastly, be realistic about how many inclusive minutes, texts and how much data you need. “Unlimited” packages may seem tempting but, if you only make a couple of hours of calls a month or download a few hundred MB of data, these packages can cost far more than a packages with a limited number of inclusive calls and paying for any extras.

Contracts

Many suppliers will ask you to enter into a minimum term contract and this is quite normal for mobile phone agreements where you receive a handset or fibre-optic broadband but, if they’re required for other services then that tends to indicate a poor quality or poor value service. After all, if a service was good quality and affordable then you’d want to continue to use it rather than being prevented from leaving.

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