The latest research from icount.co.uk highlights the depth of the problem that some families in the UK are facing.
The data shows that almost one in ten households owe more than £200 in water bills, while 20% of households are in arrears with their energy supplier.
It gets worse, 25% have ignored a utility bill in the last 12 months, with over 50% admitting they have received a late payment notice. ]
Plus, 40% of households admit to having borrowed from friends and family to pay bills, while another 40% say they stray into their overdraft to make payments.
It is not just utility bills families are struggling to pay; many households are also falling behind with their council tax payments. icount’s report shows the average family owes their local authority more than £300 in council tax arrears.
Looking at the above statistics, it’s clear many families across the UK are struggling to make ends meet.
Here are a few ways to reduce those dreaded utility bills and council tax payments. While these tips can’t eliminate your utility bills altogether, they can help ease the burden during the difficult winter months.
5 Simple Ways to Reduce Utility Bills
1. Pay by Direct Debit
Homeowners can often qualify for hefty discounts if they set-up a monthly direct debit. Doing this could easily save you £100 a year, so make sure you do it today.
Also look to get your gas and electricity bills sent directly to your email, doing away with paper bills.
2. Consider a Dual Fuel Tariff
Most energy providers will give you a better deal if you sign-up for a dual fuel tariff. Dual fuel tariffs mean you get your gas and electric from the same supplier. Not only is this more convenient, it can save you hundreds of pounds a year.
3. Turn down the Thermostat
Turning down your thermostat by just one degree can save 10% off your heating bill. You can make even more savings if you turn off radiators in rooms you’re not using.
Just make sure you aerate the room each week to prevent damp.
4. Use Energy Saving Light Bulbs
This might seem obvious but there are still hundreds of thousands of old fashioned incandescent bulbs burning away electricity.
Energy saving bulbs not only last ten times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, you can save up to £55 a year by using them. It’s also a good idea to turn off lights when you’re not using them.
5. Cover Your Windows with Insulation Film
Most DIY stores sell window insulation film. You simply apply the film to the inside of your windows and doors.
It is virtually unnoticeable and can save you up to £10 per window, in an average sized home that’s a saving of £80 a year.
3 Ways You Can Reduce Your Council Tax Debt
1. Get A 25% Discount if You Live Alone
Council tax bills are calculated assuming two people are living in the house at all times. So if you live alone, you qualify for a 25% discount, regardless of your personal circumstances.
2. Challenge Your Council Tax Band
This can be difficult, but it is possible to change your council tax band.
It’s something to think about if there have been major changes in or around your property since the original band was introduced.
Things like the building of a dual carriageway, the widening of a road, or the construction of an industrial estate nearby may affect your council tax band.
3. Get Council Tax Support
If all else fails and you’re still having trouble paying your council tax, you can apply for Council Tax Support. This is means tested, so it depends on your personal circumstances as to whether you qualify.
I’ve Reduced My Utility Bills but I’m Still Struggling
If you’ve carried out all the above steps but still find yourself in utility arrears, the first thing to do is contact each supplier concerned and explain your situation.
Suppliers will often work with you to reduce outstanding utility debt by offering payment plans which you can afford.
You will find these companies are much more reasonable if you let them know there is a problem, rather than them having to chase you.
If you still can’t manage the books with a payment plan, help is still available from your local Citizens Advice Bureau who can help advise you about your options and finances.
Finally, don’t panic. You are not the first person to fall behind on their utility bill payments and you won’t be the last. Help is out there if you ask for it.
Which of these tips will you be taking on board to reduce your ? You can leave a comment below and let us in on how you keep on top of it. We’d loved to hear from you!
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