Post number deux in the budgeting series here on the blog, woop woop! Over here you could read how to spend less on food shopping – and today it is all about how to save on your electricity bills. Read on to learn more about how to choose the right electricity supplier, how to monitor your usage & how to keep an eye on electricity thieves (you know, if you live in a town full of private weed plants like me, this knowledge might come handy!).
⇢ Which electricity supplier is the right one?
There’s not really one clear answer to this question. Everyone has got different needs – that’s why there are about gazillion different electricity suppliers and a trillion different tariffs & plans. What I advise you to do it not to be lazy & stick to whoever the supplier was when you moved into your flat/house, and do your research. There are a lot of websites that compare various aspects of different companies based on your usage, postcode & other variables. My favourite so far is the Cheap Energy Club (click here). ‘But it’s asking me for electricity usage, how do I know?!’ I hear you cry. That’s an easy one to trace – check your electricity meter in the morning, then check it in the evening and keep monitoring it this way for about a week. This gives you an initial idea about your electricity usage. Now the compare websites give you a number of options – you can go for a fixed tariff (the main energy suppliers in the UK aka the Big 6 have been forced to increase their prices lately – due to the government increasing some other prices blah blah, so they are offering you a fixed tariff for next year or so – even if there are more price hikes, your rate will stay the same), economy 7 (different rates during the day & night), cashback options etc. Now most people will stick to companies such as British Gas, NPower etc – but I say don’t feel obliged to stay with the ‘big brands’. They are not necessarily the best for you. We have currently switched to OVO Energy (What is it? That exists?!) & they have been so lovely since the very first phone call. Genuinely nice & helpful customer service (*cough* not like NPower who made me cry on a number of occasions *cough*). Plus being with OVO Energy saves us more than £20 a month with the same usage of electricity – BAM! DO YOUR RESEARCH, it’s worth it!
⇢ How to monitor your usage & why?
Electricity suppliers tend to overcharge. That’s a bit of a stereotype – or maybe a statistical prejudice? So monitoring your usage & submitting regular meter readings (online or over the phone) will save you a lot of hassle. It keeps you in the loop to know how much you’re spending – in the first year of living in my flat I didn’t even know where my meter was, oh what a mistake! I ended up paying about a grand extra because I ‘underpaid’ on my monthly bills. Oops! There is a number of ways how to monitor your usage. You can write down your meter readings and do a bit of maths. Or you can use a nifty tool called energy monitor (see mine in the picture above). You can get one off Amazon for about £20, install it yourself (you clip in a little device to your meter and place the other part into your living room) and it shows you real-time usage of your whole flat. You can also get a whole load of apps for your phone/iPad. One of them being an app called Hive. This app helps you regulate your heating & hot water remotely from your device – how genius! Did you forget to switch off your immersion heater? Well, that can be a pretty expensive mistake (ours can hike up to more than a tenner over 24 hours)! With Hive you don’t have to worry anymore. Phew! Plus there’s nothing better than coming home from a week’s holiday and your flat is already nice & toasty!
⇢ Electricity theft – how to recognise it & how to deal with it?
You think this won’t happen to you, but hey – it easily can & you might not even know about it! There’s about million different ways how thieves can steal your electricity. They can wire up onto your electricity meter (which you might not even be able to tell if you’re not familiar with the wiring systems), they can hook up onto your wires through a wall, they can even sneakily plug in a cable into your outdoor socket! *hides face* This is another reason why you really need to be keeping an eye on your electricity usage. Does it look a bit off? If you have a reason to believe someone’s stealing your electricity (the easiest way to see this is to trip all your fuses & see whether the meter is still spinning), contact police immediately. After all – it is a theft!