Utilities Management Guide (2020)

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The ability to manage utilities is an increasingly important life skill these days. After all, they’re a huge part of our daily lives. To live in the 2020s is to live a life of luxury that our ancestors could scarcely have dreamed of. And that luxury is afforded to us by a number of technological advances. Some, like running water, electric lighting and central heating, have been around for generations. But even more advanced conveniences like super-fast broadband access are easy to take for granted today.

Last update: November 2020

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Manage your utilities

These utilities are the quotidian luxuries that we take for granted in the 21st century. And the more we take them for granted, the more we can forget about them. And that could be a costly mistake, not just for us but for the environment. It’s time to get proactive and take control! When you can manage utilities, you can not only better manage your household budget but significantly reduce your home’s environmental footprint.

Let’s take a look at how and why you should learn to better manage your utilities…

Your utilities explained

There’s some confusion as to what is and is not considered a utility. Broadly speaking, a utility is anything that’s considered essential to facilitate the kind of lifestyle that we should reasonably expect in the 2020s.

There are a wide range of companies all over the country that can take care of these basic services for us. And the wealth of competition means that there’s always scope for canny consumers to reduce the cost of their utilities while also ensuring that their household makes less of an impact on the planet we all share.

What is usually included in utilities?

By their most basic definition, the utilities are the “essentials” that our homes need to be safe, sanitary and habitable. This means:

  • Energy (electricity and gas)
  • Water and sewerage
  • Waste disposal

While the latter is managed by your local council and paid for by your Council Tax, the other two are managed by private companies. Unfortunately, according to the water regulatory body Ofwat you cannot currently change your water supplier. But you can (and should) certainly change your gas and electricity supplier.

However, these essentials aren’t the only things that could be considered utilities. In this digitally interconnected age, utilities also extend to:

  • Your phone line and broadband internet connection
  • Your digital TV / cable / satellite connection

As utility companies diversify and expand, we’re seeing more and more of these utilities become available from the same suppliers. So that now you can get your gas and electricity as well as your phone and broadband all under the same roof.

How do you manage utilities? It’s all about taking control!

If you’re curious about how to manage utilities, congratulations! You’ve already taken the first step. The key to managing your utilities effectively is being proactive and understanding that you have a wealth of choice that could save you money.

The better something does its job, the easier it is to ignore it. And in this age of convenience, our utilities are all-too easy to take for granted. But when we get complacent, our energy and utility costs can spiral out of control.

Here are some ways in which you can take control of your expense and manage your utilities:

Choose a tariff that reflects your usage

When searching for a new supplier, it’s vital to have details of your previous utility usage to hand (previous bills etc.). This is the only way to ensure that your tariff reflects your usage and gives you the savings you deserve.

Take regular meter readings or apply for a smart meter

If you don’t supply your energy provider with regular meter readings, they will base your bills on estimates. And this can make them less accurate and more expensive. These estimates are based on the average household energy consumption figures published by in your area by Ofgem the UK energy watchdog. These estimates may bear absolutely no relation to your current usage.

Download your supplier’s app

Most energy suppliers have a mobile app. This makes it easier and more convenient to keep an eye on how much energy you’re using, supply meter readings and stay in control of your account.

Keep track of your usage

If you lose track of your usage, costs can spiral out of control. Its important to keep track of your usage. If it spikes, you need to ascertain the reason why so you can take action and prevent your costs from getting out of hand.

Don’t let your tariff roll over

Nobody relishes searching for new energy tariffs. And, let’s be honest, in an era where we’re all working harder and for longer hours than ever, very few of us have the time. But complacency can come at a heavy cost. When your energy tariff rolls over, you will likely be placed on a default or standard tariff. These invariably have the least competitive costs per unit for gas and electricity as well as the most expensive standing charges.

As per Ofgem guidelines suppliers have a legal obligation to let you know if your tariff is coming to an end or if prices are going to change. Use the time you have to look for a better deal.

The benefits of better managing your utilities

While it can take a little time and effort to manage your utilities, the benefits speak for themselves. Your household could enjoy:

  • Lower household costs
  • Less money and energy wasted
  • Greener and more renewable energy
  • More disposable income to spend on what really matters

How do I set up utilities?

When you move into a new home, your utilities should be ready for you to use. However, the property will be on a “Deemed Contract” with the previous occupant’s supplier. Which means you will almost certainly be over-spending.

It’s important to set up utilities again from scratch asap. Here’s how:

  • Take a meter reading on the day you move in
  • Report it to your property’s incumbent supplier
  • Find a replacement utility supplier and tariff (that’s where we come in)
  • Your incumbent supplier will send you a first and final bill to cover your usage while your new tariff is set up. This usually takes 17-21 days.

Manage your energy bills

How can you reduce utilities?

Even with a great tariff behind you, you can still take steps to reduce your spending on utilities. For instance:

Turn appliances and devices off when not in use

Even an appliance on standby can use almost as much energy as when active. Make sure you switch these “energy vampires” off at the wall when they’re not in use.

Employ water-saving devices

From low-flush toilets to high-pressure water-saving showerheads there are all kinds of devices to reduce your domestic water usage. You should also be wary of leaving the tap running when washing the dishes and brushing your teeth.

Try and make your home more energy efficient

Taking steps to improve your home’s energy efficiency rating can not only save you money but increase its value. Common improvements to make the home more energy efficient include:

  • Installing or improving double glazing
  • Insulating the wall cavities and loft
  • Adding draught excluders to doors
  • Replacing inefficient incandescent lightbulbs with CFL or LED bulbs

Keep your eye on the market

Finally, it’s important to keep your eye on the market and switching tariffs if you see a better deal. Just make sure your current supplier won’t charge you an early exit fee for switching!

How can the government help me?

If you’re struggling with the cost of heating your home, there are a number of initiatives that the government has put in place to help. However, these are only available to vulnerable groups such as the elderly, the disabled and their carers or parents, or those who are claiming jobseeker’s benefits.

Click on each to find out the eligibility criteria and how to apply:

The latter is a government initiative, but it is administrated by individual energy suppliers. They will usually tell you if you are eligible to apply.

Need a hand bringing utility costs down? We’re here to help!

Managing utilities starts with the right suppliers and tariffs. That’s where we come in!

We can help you to find the perfect tariff for your energy needs and usage. What’s more, we’ll manage your switch from end-to-end. No stress. No hassle. Just better, faster savings!

Call us today on 0330 054 0017 to find out more. We’re available from 9am to 7pm.

Managing utilities FAQs

How often should I switch energy suppliers?

Ideally, you should switch whenever your existing tariff ends to ensure that you don’t end up on an expensive standard tariff. You can switch up to 49 days before your tariff expires without incurring any penalties.

How much could I save by switching energy suppliers?

This depends on a lot of factors including where you live, your energy usage and your current tariff. However, in 2017, Ofgem estimated that around 60% of UK households could save up to £300 a year on their energy bills by switching suppliers.

Why can’t I switch water suppliers?

In 2002 the UK Government deemed that switching domestic water suppliers would be too difficult and costly to regulate and that the associated costs would outweigh any benefits for consumers.

Should I get all my utilities from the same supplier?

You certainly can. As well as a huge number of dual fuel deals, there are an increasing number of gas, electricity, phone and broadband deals on the market. And these kinds of bundle deals can often result in savings. However, you should always ensure that you know what other deals and offers are out there. This can help you to make an informed decision that results in long term savings and a tariff that suits your needs.

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Written by eleanor

Updated on 25 Nov, 2020

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