It doesn’t take much time or effort to slash your bills.
This week I put aside half an hour for a bit of admin. With my energy fix about to end and a price increase on the way for my broadband, I took the opportunity to cut how much I pay every month. Read on to see how I did it, or watch the video below.
My energy switch
I’d put in my diary 50 days before my energy contract was due to end (that’s the earliest you can switch without getting hit with penalties), and that popped up last week. So I headed over to MSE’s Cheap Energy Club (the only comparison site I’d recommend) and took a look at my options.
Though one thing I love about this comparison site is that it remembers your details, making a new comparison instant, I took a couple of minutes to enter updated usage information from my last bills. Doing this meant I’d get the most accurate results.
If I didn’t do anything, and let my fix lapse onto a standard variable rate (SVR) with EDF, my estimated bill for the following 12 months would be £315 more than I’d paid over the last year. Obviously, I wasn’t going to do this – if I could pay less I would.
I was also keen to find a supplier with green energy credentials, and though there are some very good small energy providers out there, I wanted to avoid any with poor customer service records.
The first five results were all for companies with little or bad feedback – so even though there was the potential to pay £91 less than my current bills – let alone a potential £406 versus the SVR – I decided to pass on each of these.
To my amazement, the next cheapest company wasn’t just a green energy tariff it was only bloody Britsh Gas! Though the big six can sometimes be competitive on pricing, British Gas hasn’t been cheapest for me in a long time. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever chosen to move to them and I certainly didn’t think I ever would.
The estimated bill (remember all energy bills will go up and down depending on how much gas and electricity you use) came out as £13 more than what I’m paying now, but the saving over the next year will be £431. Plus there’s £25 cashback from Cheap Energy Club on top of that, bringing my saving to £456.
This tariff also comes with a year’s free insurance for pipes, boilers, drains and electrics, valued at £144. I’m not factoring that into my total as it’s not something I’d buy separately, but it’s certainly nice to have.
So British Gas will take over my gas and electricity at the end of the month – and I’ve put a note in the diary for when it’d due to end in 2020. This whole comparison and switching process took me just seven minutes!
My broadband haggle
As I wrote about last month, Virgin Media is putting up prices on most of its services – and this meant I was able to break my contract without paying early exit penalties. Leaving was something I was thinking about anyway as the service hasn’t been great (though it’s been OK since an engineer visited a few weeks ago).
To leave, I needed to wait for a letter explaining the £3.50 a month increase, and receiving this would be notice that you’ve 30 days to exit if you wish. I actually got this as an email a few weeks ago, so once I’d finished switching energy, I got on the phone to Virgin.
I hate all the options you have to go through, and it can take a while to get through to a person, but after five minutes I was speaking to someone about the price increase.
Last time my contract was up (in February), I gave my notice and the next day I was phoned back with a cracking offer, meaning I’ve been paying £24 a month for 100mbs – that’s £25 less than what my bill would have cost if I’d let it rollover. So I planned to do the same this time. Either I’d get a great deal, or I’d move on and save money as a new customer elsewhere.
Straight away, the call centre person said I wouldn’t have to pay the increase. Since I already had a decent price, that in itself was a good deal. But despite our 100mbs speed – which should be more than enough for how we use our internet – I asked if there was anything that could do to boost the often disappointing speed.
After a short check of what was available, I was told I could get double the speed for an extra £3.50 a month. So yes I’d be paying more, but it was still significantly less than what I would pay elsewhere, and 50% less than the actual cost of this broadband package.
Since this doesn’t put me onto a new contract, I decided to give it a go. If I don’t notice any big differences to the speed and connectivity, I can go through it all again in six months when my contract ends.
So I’ll be paying £27.50 a month rather than £54, meaning I’m paying £318 less than full price!
A really easy saving, and really quick – in total I was on the phone for 13 minutes.
My savings combined
Combined I’m paying £774 less than the full price for these bills. That’s huge. And it took a combined time of 20 minutes to make those changes. That’s nothing at all. If it was an hourly rate I’d be making £2,322 an hour! You can’t tell me these things aren’t worth the time.
Ok, so in real terms I’ll be paying slightly more over the next year. My energy estimate is an extra £13 a year, though that’s cancelled out by the £25 cashback, and I’ll be paying £3.50 more a month for the internet. So that’s an increase of £43 a year.
But if I had done nothing, thse bills would have gone up anyway, and by a lot more money, With the energy fix ending, those bills would have shot up by hundreds of pounds, and the Virgin price increase would have seen my bill go up by the same £3.50 anyway.
This way, I’m getting double the internet speed. I’m getting green energy and I’ve got some bonus emergency insurance too.
You could save even more money
I was already on two very decent deals for these utilities. I’d fixed my energy and I’d haggled a discount with Virgin. But you might not.
If your energy fix has ended (or you’ve never had one) and you’re getting charged a variable rate there’s a good chance it’s going to be really expensive – especially if you’re with one of the big companies.
And if you’ve let your Virgin contract (or any internet provider) rollover once the promotions have ended you will be paying a fortune! It’ll be even more if you also get TV channels through that company.
So doing exactly what I did could save you even more cash. It might take you a few minutes more, but I still think you can switch energy in less than 20 minutes. And if you’re put on hold waiting to talk to your broadband provider, just use that time do to something else while you wait.