Tag: money saving

Budget busting bacon misshapes, money saving

Bacon misshapes from the butchersWhilst trying to find ever more frugal ways to cut back on our grocery shopping, we were looking at how much we spend on meat, especially as its one of the most expensive product lines in our weekly shop.

We’re a big fan of bacon, who isn’t? (Apart from the Veggies, sorry this post is not for you) but I think we’re all aware that today the price of meat is continually rising year-on-year.

Not that we want to delve into economics,  supply/demand, cost of grain, supply chains and the price of oil, but all these commodities and geo-political factors are keeping an upward pressure on the price. This in turn is making it harder for the average family to afford eating meat on a regular basis, whilst this can be good in some respects; it is also becoming in essence a privilege of sorts to eat it every day.

So what can we do to continue enjoying the simple pleasures in life, whilst not breaking “Porky”, our piggy bank! (yes crappy pun intended).

Bacon misshapes are the super scrimpers choice

We have found several simple but effective ideas, but for this post I want to talk about scrumptious bacon misshapes, those ugly and unloved off cuts of bacon that are sold off at sensational bargain prices. While the “basics” range from your local supermarket certainly sells their ugly range of bacon misshapes and the price per pack is much cheaper than the average packet of bacon by on average £1.50.

We want to let you in on our little secret, well ok I am sure many people already know what I am about to tell you, but the question is how many people can be bothered to spend a little time getting their hands dirty?

The local butcher always seem to have bacon misshapes (offcuts)

Each time we visit our local butchers in Tilehurst, the first point of call is straight to the fridge at the back of the shop, whilst quickly scanning the shelves for those giant packets of bacon misshapes. For only £1.69 you receive (over a kilo in) this vacuum packed bundle of goodness that provides you and your family roughly:

  • 3 packs of bacon lardons
  • 3 packs of bacon, each containing a good 6 slices each.

There is almost no consistency in slice thickness, but quite honestly who cares? You get all that bacon for half the price of one single packet from your local super market!

Sort it & chop it – A little effort and a lovely reward!

It’s not exactly challenging and only requires maybe 10 minutes of your time and 6-8 freezer bags. Once you open a bag of bacon misshapes, you will be surprised to see how much bacon is densely packed into one vacuum bag. The next job is to sort it into two piles:

  1. Potential bacon rashers
  2. Scraggly misshapen offcuts

We would normally chop up the offcuts into smaller pieces for use as lardons in spaghetti bolognaise or maybe a cheap-n-cheerful linguine. Before I get too side-tracked thinking about dinner choices (I am very hungry at the time of writing) we just bag them all up into meal size portions and voila!

Hang on, are the bacon misshapes any good?

Quite honestly they look and taste great to us; think of it from the butchers perspective after trimming all those pieces of meat, do they really want to throw the offcuts away as shrinkage? Nope, I am sure they would rather sell them for something, than throw them in the bin. The issue I am sure we can all see is, what happens when everyone else catches on….

[ois skin=”1″]

Stop the press; you just saved yourself a pink pig flying 82%!

Based on current  (own brand) prices at the time of writing and doing a like for like weight comparison, picking the average equivalent across several UK stores, let’s say we are looking at:

  • Tesco’s 200g lardons: £1.28 per pack
  • Sainsbury’s 225g back bacon 6 slices per pack: £2.00

Which roughly (yes roughly) equates to a total cost of:

  • 3 x £1.28 = £3.84
  • 3 x £2.00 = £6.00 (includes promotional discount)
  • Total: £9.84 worth of bacon

You will have to bear in mind this is based on reasonable assumptions and fair market prices, but we believe through purchasing and sorting our butchers bacon misshapes we saved a gob smacking:

  • £8.15 which is a budget busting 82% saving!! 

Doesn’t that sound like the ultimate super scrimpers saving? Just imagine if you could save the equivalent on each of your weekly meat purchases.

Do you have super grocery saving scrimps?

Or have any other fabulous cost cutting tips when purchasing meat for your families weekly shop? We would love to hear about your endeavours and we hope you liked our tip about purchasing budget busting bacon misshapes from your local butcher.

Garden cooking, Dutch oven & a brace of conies

Dutch oven cooking over DIY fire pitWe were pondering whether or not we should invest in another brand new and shiny garden BBQ, as the cheap and cheerful ones you pick up from the supermarket or local hardware store never last for long.

This year I wanted to scrimp and save by creating our own and keeping it very frugal, for a while we were playing with the idea to use an old metal drum or maybe a full brick BBQ, as we had plenty of left over bricks. Decisions decisions…. or maybe a Dutch oven?

A DIY Fire pit, holy smokes

The issue we have in our little urban garden is space and after some deliberating we opted for making our own DIY fire pit. As we are both keen on practising a little home bush-craft and also cooking with limited cooking equipment.

Before i started digging up the lawn, we had ‘a little chat’ on how this would be managed over the longer term, if i was allowed to proceed. After a great deal of negotiation, we went for the sunken fire pit, so it is both tidy and we could remove the Y frames and the balance beam to mow the lawn (our gardens borders are curved).

As you can see from the self-explanatory gallery of pictures further down this post, it was really very easy to DIY it, well apart from the turfing and digging up the garden on a hot day! Thirsty work…

So without a BBQ grill, we needed the all essential Dutch oven

8 litre dutch oven
We previously bought an 8 litre Dutch oven, these are incredibly versatile cast iron cooking pots (or casserole dishes) that can cook a wide range of ‘oven cooked’ meals (roasts, stews and casseroles) on any naked flame.

We previously made various damper breads on our recent bush-craft course, but apparently you can also cook pizzas, cakes, biscuits and pies too. We will have to try some of the more ‘challenging recipes’ some when soon and blog about either their success or epic failure(s).

Hopefully not the latter…

There’s only one way to eat a brace of conies

Food from plenty cook bookPrior to Samwise Gamgee in the film Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers, we had never heard of  Rabbits referred to in that way. Though from a quick Google search we tried to find out where it originates, we know that its a hunting phrase for two rabbits held together by I think their fur.

Anyway not to get side-tracked, we wanted to try out a new recipe: rabbit with mustard and tarragon stew from one of our favourite “left over” cook books Food From Plenty by Diana Henry.

Our first impression was hmm not sure how well that will work, but BOY we were surprised just how tasty it was. (since then we have had it a couple of times cooked in the trusty Dutch oven)

DELICIOUS!!

To sum it all up, was it worth it?

The fire pit was easy enough to do, just a bit of digging really. If you don’t have any bricks laying about they are cheap enough (varies around 50p a brick) to pickup around 20-25. We had considered using large pieces of stone as an alternative to surround the outside wall. The stone lining at the bottom, can be from small stones from around the garden, in our case the soil here is littered with pebble sized stones.

** Safety note, make sure there are no tree roots, as apparently it can cause a tree to catch fire through drying out their root system!

The best bit is that its the ultimate urban scrimp, as it did not cost us a penny apart from a few hours of time/labour one sunny afternoon and we can use it for years to come with minimal maintenance.

Ok, ok I lied a little… the best bit was actually the extremely tasty cooked stew. As you can see from the pictures we had a great time, but wow that is one tasty recipe, thanks Diana!

Have you made your own BBQ or cooked in a Dutch oven?

Please comment below, we would love to hear your thoughts and ideas with your outdoor cooking experiences.

Brewing our own light beer

DIY microbrewery kit

DIY Beer Brewing! Frugal living…

I have been keen to learn how to make my own beer and for Christmas my sister bought me a wheat beer microbreweries kit. I know it’s a kit with the premade syrup already provided, so the process is much easier than preparing the hops. But I figure, you have to start somewhere learning the basic principles how to “home brew” and this kit just gets the ball rolling.

My efforts most likely will not be as tasty as the beer you buy from the shops, but hopefully this will get better with practice, plus the amount of beer you get, for the money you spend, is a much better Return On Investment (ROI) for only a little effort.

How much does it all cost?

Typically once you have the microbrewery equipment which will set you back around £30-£40, most of the beer kits produce roughly 40 pints and your costs to brew your own beer from a kit is typically:

  • £11-£16 for the beer kit
  • £2 for the extra 1kg of brewing sugar

*From time to time you will need to purchase new sterilising powder or find a suitable alternative.

With both options there are always the more premium brands/sugars that will cost a little extra, but typically it costs around £16.

How much can brewing your own beer save you?

For a pint can (568ml) of Stella Artois in the supermarkets we are looking at roughly £1.25 to £1.59 per can, depending on the bulk buy deals available at the time. If you quickly run the numbers for 40 pints we are paying somewhere in the range below for the equivalent amount of booze:

  • 40 pints x £1.25 = £50!! Or 40 pints x £1.59 = £63.60!!

So already investing a little time, energy and money upfront you can save yourself a staggering 68% – 75% off the cost!!! Or let me put it another way, for the money you would spend on buying beer in the off-licence for 40 pints you could brew between 125 – 159 PINTS!!!

Ok so the art here is to obviously master the brewing process, so that it tastes really good but that’s just a case of practise making perfect!

Ok I’m interested, but how easy is it?

Well I won’t lie, it was my first time home brewing so I was a little anxious that I got it right and aside from a few little mistakes it was surprisingly easy. Anyway before I get ahead of myself, let’s run through the steps!

Brewing your own beer, step…

  1. Sterilising the brewing equipment

    Step 2: Sterilising the brewing equipment

    GET ORGANISED
    Apparently I needed help, so I had no choice but to recruit a keen assistant, my father in law Paul. So we set about getting all of the equipment and ingredients together as featured in picture at the top of this post.

    1. 25 Litre fermenting bin & lid (bung & airlock beneficial)
    2. Paddle
    3. Syphon
    4. Steriliser
    5. Hydrometer & Trail Jar
    6. Thermometer
    7. Beer kit & Sugar (or malt extract)
  2. pour in the syrup

    Step 3: Pour in the Syrup

    CLEAN & STERILISE
    One of the most important steps is to clean all your brewing equipment in warm sterilised solution in your kitchen sink and let it soak for a good 10-20 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Otherwise you might end up with fluffy foul smelling growths in your precious nectar!

  3. Top up with cold water & get the temperature

    Step 4: Top up with cold water & get the temperature

    POUR IN & MIX
    Ah the easy bit, pour in the syrup then add the sugar (or malt extract), top up slowly with 2 litres of boiling water whilst stirring with your paddle.

  4. Get the gravity reading

    Step 5: Get the gravity reading

    TOP UP WITH COLD WATER
    Then whilst stirring pour in 20 litres of cold water to create your wort. If necessary top up with a little extra cold/warm water so that its temperature is between 210C-270C (700F-800F).

  5. GET YOUR (OG) ORIGINAL GRAVITY READING
    Ok before we put in the yeast we need to get our initial gravity reading using our Hydrometer and trail jar to later determine our alcohol content.

    1. With a sterilised jug fill up half a pint of wort (liquid) and slowly transfer into the trail jar until you are about 2 inches from the top.
    2. Slowly lower in your hydrometer, giving it a spin with your fingers as you release to remove the air bubbles.
    3. Let it get its buoyancy and look where the numbers settle on a level with the liquid and note down your (OG) reading. Some people online recommend taking the reading twice to be sure it’s correct.
    4. Pour all the remaining wort back into the fermentation bin.
  6. ADD IN THE YEAST
    Now slowly pour in the yeast whilst stirring away with your paddle, once it’s all mixed in your just about done.
  7. fermentation

    Step 7/8: Find a warm place for fermentation

    LID IT
    There are a couple of different methods here open and closed, but we prefer the option that is less likely for errors (closed) which is also easier for carrying. The downside is that our microbrewery did not come with a bung and airlock to keep things simple; luckily we already had a spare with our winemaking equipment. So prior to sterilisation we drilled a hole in the lid to fit the bung and airlock (these can also be purchased separately)

  8. STORE IT
    Find a nice dark and warm location for the beer to ferment for approximately seven days. For optimum results, it is suggested to leave it in an ambient temperature of 210C -270C. We placed our brew in our airing cupboard, as it was the perfect environment for fermentation.
  9. CHECK IT
    After a week, I did a (FG) final gravity test, I got a reading of 11. We are supposed to do two readings in two consecutive days and if the readings are the same then we are ready to bottle up. However, after running through the calculations I realised my beer was only 3.3% Alch Vol. So I decided to leave it for another week.

I was hoping for a reading of 10 or less, but after leaving it an extra week I decided it was time to bottle up, as the alcohol content was not going to get any higher. Next time I will probably add more sugar for a stronger brew!

How to calculate the alcohol content?

Well it turns out that it’s pretty easy using the formula below:

OG – FG
7.46
+ 0.5 = approx % alcohol by volume (ABV)

Formula Key:

  • OG = Original Gravity prior to adding the yeast
  • FG = Final gravity after fermentation

So in my case the readings were:

  • 10321010 / 7.46 + 0.5 = 3.45% ABV

Not very high I know, but I have learnt not to be stingy when adding the sugar and add more! As we don’t have a keg to store the nectar in, we had to use plastic bottles that came with the microbrewery kit, so now comes the fun part.

Bottling up your brew!

I think the hardest, most time consuming part of this process is the sterilisation of all the bottles and caps, it can be quite laborious as they also need rinsing properly. Once everything is sterilised, including the syphon (which I forgot to do at first) then we’re all set to bottle.

It can be a one man job, though it’s easier in a two man team, in my case I had a last minute substitute from my father in law, to his beautiful daughter Sherrie! I think this was the part he was most looking forward to, the bottling and sampling! Make sure you are in charge of controlling the flow of beer through the siphon; any extra spillage will accidently fall in your mouth!

So you don’t get too bored reading this, I will hurry along….

We added in 7 grams of sugar into each empty bottle, filled it up with beer, sealed and carefully tipped upside down several times before storing it away in an upright position for its secondary fermentation.

After a week, you are good to go! Pop it in the fridge to chill and voila, sit back and enjoy!

finished beer

The Finished beer! (sorry about the poor photo)

It does recommend leaving the beer to mature in flavour, or keep a couple of bottles back of each batch to mature for several months.

Going further

We are keen to try out different kits and maybe even make our own wort syrup one day. As you can tell we are certainly not experienced beer brewers, but it goes to show that anyone can do it if you are willing to give it a go and it will save you a lot of money over time!

Cheers to all of you scrimpers out there!!

If you have any ideas, suggestions or comments about our beer brewing, please leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you.

 

Saving money: Energy bills Part 2

Make our home more energy efficient.

Energy efficiency

Part 2 Energy Efficiency

At first glance around our house we knew there were plenty of improvements that could be made to maximise our energy efficiency, despite not having a great deal of knowledge on the what and how.

The key consideration was how do you achieve these home improvements on a limited budget without borrowing any money on these government green schemes? Well first step was to work out where we stood.

Where did we start?

To get started, we decided not to worry about the ‘what and the how’, but to look at what we currently had ‘installed’ and the state of disrepair. To keep things simple we took an A5 sheet of paper, drew a couple of straight lines down the middle and scribbled down headings for Gas and Electric with the following key: [P] = Priority | [R] = Repair.

We then went on to list what home improvements we had written in each column and alongside each item we made a note of its status using a simple number key:

  1. Good condition – Has years of life left
  2. Ok – Will last a few more years
  3. Poor – Needs urgent repair
Quick sketch of our plan of action of what we could improve

Quick sketch of our plan of action of what we could improve

With an EPC this process was much quicker

Our EPC certificate

Our EPC certificate

As we had not been in our new house for very long, we had both a property survey and an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) report outlining where we could make future improvements to our home. Unfortunately for us, there was plenty we could do, with our house being 100 years old; it is not very energy efficient compared to modern builds.

Taking both our initial visual inspection and the items highlighted on our EPC report, we set about ordering them in priority for which would yield the greatest return on investment, both financially and for time spent.

Here are the top ten improvements we identified

To date we have not implemented all of these, though we hope to gradually make most of these improvements as our budget allows over the coming months.

First six are for Gas heating

    1. Loft insulation

      Ours was incredibly thin, well under 6 inches when the recommendation is 12 inches minimum. We were going to do it ourselves, but in the end we got ours for free. (will explain in more detail in a later post)

  • Double Glazing

    This was the one thing we did not have to do, as the previous owners had replaced all the windows only a few years ago. Though we know there are better, more efficient options available that we may re-visit in the future.

 

  • Draught exclusion

    In addition to door draught excluders, we went round the door frames with the draught tape and silicon sealant on the windows frames/gaps to remove all those cold draughts. We filled in wall cracks, holes around external pipework and the gaps around the loft hatch. All this meant we were able to turn our thermostat down (for extra savings)

    • Investment required: Prices can vary, but typically:
      • Tape per roll: £5 (we used two rolls)
      • Silicon sealant: £5
      • Door brush: £5-£10 (or you can make your own below)
      • DIY door excluder: free
    • Savings: This can save on average £55 per year, plus potentially another £65 per year for a lower thermostat.
    • Further reading:

 

  • Boiler

    Our boiler is certainly not the most efficient model and it is getting quite old, so this is something we will upgrade one day when we have budget available (or it packs in).

 

  • Floor insulation

    A potential future home improvement, though this looks quite expensive unless you do it yourself.

  • Wall cavity insulation

    Being that our property is so old, our walls were not built with cavities, so this is not an option for us. We have heard of some expensive techniques where the internal/external walls are thickened with insulation layers.

    • Investment required: Free with British Gas (though typically £400-£500)
    • Savings: This can save up to £140 per year.
  • Further reading:

 

The last four are for electric

    1. Energy saving light bulbs

      Yep certainly a no brainer, though the prices have come down considerably and over the duration of their life expectancy, they are well worth the investment.Depending on the size of your home, the savings will vary but it can save on average £55 per year in electric.

  • Appliances – Economy Mode

    Again this one is quite obvious, if your white goods have an eco-mode, use it! It might take longer than some of the other settings but it certainly cuts back on power and water consumption. Plus do full loads in your washing machines/dishwashers, turn down the wash/drying temperatures.
    You can also turn the temperature of your fridge/freezers up by a few degrees, keeping them within the safe limits to keep your food preserved. The temperatures do vary slightly depending on how full/empty they are, but ideally the warmer they are the less energy they use. There is a great deal of advice online and they all vary slightly (depending on the country), but on average this is what we have found and what we have done.

    • Fridge: Ours is at 4 degrees (recommended 1-5 degrees)
    • Freezer: Ours is at -15 degrees (recommended -15 to -21 degrees)

    The energy savings will depend on each appliance, which makes it hard to quantify and I have not found any useful links to add here that give us an average saving in terms of money saved.

 

  • Standby devices – Turn them off

    We all know on standby they are using power, but what we don’t realise is that all these devices left on standby together are cumulatively drip draining power and over a year it all adds up.

    Nearly everything gets turned off, though for our Sky TV box we use a simple low energy plug timer, so that in the evening it turns on power to the socket so it can record any TV shows, then turns off at midnight.

 

  • Computer equipment – Power saving mode

    Unless you need the extra horse power for doing any processor intensive tasks, switch your computer(s) into power saving mode. This will power down devices (Hard drives, Network adaptors, USB hubs etc) into sleep that are not in use after a period of time and the entire computer if you should be away from your desk for any duration. Computers power consumption will vary depending on what you are doing; gaming for example turns a med/high spec computer into a power hungry rabid beast!

    • Investment required: Effort mainly
    • Savings: The cost saving will vary depending on your computer and what you use it for. We have found that typically our two computers which we have running every day during working hours were using around £50 per month, which we cut back to just under £25 per month.
    • Further reading: A great guide on how to calculate your usage:

 

All this work, did it make a difference?

Yes we believe it has, even though we cannot quantify exactly how much we have saved for each item, also as were reducing our energy usage it also made it difficult to calculate with any level of precision. All things considered we have cut our bills back considerably;

  • GAS consumption reduced by: 40% (we saved £288 per year)
  • Electric consumption reduced by: 50% (we saved £360 per year)

Based on many of the average savings listed in our top 10, from the information we have sourced from these parties, there is a potential to save anywhere between £900-£1290 per year. We have personally found that we are saving on average £648 per year, but we have not (or cannot in some cases) implement all of the above improvements. This figure also includes us cutting back on our general usage.

Plenty more to learn and implement

I am sure there are other things we could do to also make our home more efficient, if you have any ideas or contributions to add please leave a comment below. We would love to hear your thoughts.

Slashed our water bill by 57.3%

water bill

Our annual Water bill

A year ago we were looking at ways to reduce our water bill and after rummaging around the web we found a few online calculators to gauge our annual estimated usage. Of course for these to work and have any level of accuracy we had to answer as honestly as one can, in some cases slightly over estimating the amount we generally consume. It’s better to overestimate to receive a nice surprise of a slightly lower bill, than to underestimate and receive a much larger bill at the end of the year.

So the first step was to work out if a meter was the best way forward to cutting back on our bill by calculating our average usage. More than likely it will be in litres or referenced as units, which a unit is:

  • Unit = 1000 litres OR 1 cubic meter (1M3) OR 220 gallons

So which water calculators did we use?

Well as we are in the Thames water region, we personally found the Thames Waterwisely calculator a really useful tool. They provide a drop down menu with 16 counties, plus there are additional regions available if you live outside the UK upon which they base their calculations.

Here are some of the available calculators in our order of preference; the ones at the top are much more detailed and are easier to use. (each opens in a new window)

  1. Thames Waterwisely
  2. Yorkshire Water
  3. CSG Network
  4. BBC News
  5. South West Water
  6. Consumer Council for Water

Note: If you know of any other good calculators to add to this list, please let us know in the comments below.

Since we first calculated our usage we have noticed that many of the calculators have changed but they should all still help to get an idea of your household usage, especially if you are considering switching from rates to a meter. It does not matter too much if the calculator does not cater for your region; you just want to find out your average usage first.

Why would I switch from rates, when we could end up paying more?

Unless you have a large family and are heavy users, you are more than likely paying too much on your rates. We live in a three bedroom house and there are only two of us, we were paying on average £35 per month (£422 per year!) When we calculated our usage, we found that on each of the three calculators we used, each reported that we were “low water users” and once you then multiply your usage in litres/units to local water cost per unit, the result being roughly what you would expect to pay on a meter.

If you own your own home, then if you switch to being metered within the year you can switch back without any fuss. Just to be clear, at the time of switching, this was Thames Water’s policy on reverting back to rates. (Please check your local supplier’s terms)

Before we switched this was something I wanted to be clear on, as I wanted to retain the choice to switch back if it ended up costing us more.

How much did we actually save?

We went from a whopping monthly median of £35 per month (£422 per year) to £15 per month (£180 per year) by simply switching to a meter and changing the way we use water in our home.

Here is the old annual bill for £422 for a year.

water bill

Old annual water bill on rates. For some reason they take 7 monthly instalments, instead of 12 monthly payments.

Now checkout the NEW metered bill!!!!! (we are so chuffed)

Metered water bill for half a year!

Metered water bill for half a year! We assumed the next 6 months would be the same.

We will go into more detail in later posts how we reduced our daily usage but for the meantime we will cover the main points we undertook.

How did we manage to save so much?

I know many of these seem obvious, but it’s shifting that mental perspective of understanding what should be done, to physically doing and adjusting your lifestyle. These changes should not seem daunting; it can all be done by making small daily changes and getting into a new routine. Here are the first five things we did:

  1. We switched from rates to metered
  2. We improved the efficiency of our taps & toilets with water saving freebies
  3. Installed several water butts in the garden
  4. Cut back on our water usage by changing our daily habits
  5. We found simple uses for recycling the grey/waste water

Moving forward we have read about some great ideas to utilise grey water/rain water for toilet flushing, watering household and garden plants with a little plumbing knowledge from a friend.

If you have any great tips or ideas please let us know

I am sure we have only just touched on a few water saving techniques and there are plenty of other wonderful water saving ideas, does anyone know of any I can add to the list?

Saving money: Energy bills Part 1

Part one: Switching energy suppliers for Gas/Electric

Energy saving

Part 1 – Switching energy suppliers

These days we just don’t have the time to continually check the rates/tariffs of each of our suppliers, just imagine how much time it would take to check each and every one. Our suppliers are certainly not going to make it easy for us to keep tabs on their costs comparatively to their competitors that would just too helpful and considerate of them. No, no, we had to spend the time researching the in’s and out’s…that was until the dawn of price comparison websites!! Here are just a few of them:*

  1. confused.com
  2. ukpower.co.uk
  3. moneysupermarket.com
  4. simplyswitch.com
  5. uSwitch.com
  6. energysupplierswitch.co.uk
  7. theenergyshop.com

*For the record, we are not advocating any particular company above; it’s up to you investigate your options.

Switching energy suppliers, easy as 123

We have all seen the commercials, so our first point of call was to check that we were paying the cheapest tariff by checking out a few of the price comparison websites, we entered in our details to find out which supplier saved us money.

Hint: Get all your information into a word document before you begin, so you can copy and paste your details quickly.

There were a series of questions for each of the key steps, but it was all fairly straight forward, especially as we had a previous utility bill to hand. Once we completed the first few steps, they provided the results and presented us with our options moving forward. As we quickly found out, we were paying over and above the average per KWh unit.

So which price comparison company do we go with?

We can’t answer that for your situation, we had to spend some time doing a little research before we made a decision on which was the best for our situation. As with any business, they are in business to make their ‘cut’ and each slightly differs on how much they charge. When all things were considered, switching energy supplier ended up saving us several hundred pounds per year, we did not feel quite as tight when they are asking for a one off fee for around £12 to switch each utility. Especially as over the year our savings covered that a good 12 times over.

It’s clear we were paying too much, what now?

Well that was it; we did not leave it any longer and got switching! It’s strange that in the past we all had some form of loyalty to our energy suppliers as we thought they had our best interests, but it is clear today that it’s all a load of PR spin and it is all about maximising profits whilst maintaining the facade that they care. There was no love-loss here, we got switching straight away, it is surprisingly easy these days, we completed the forms, clicked submit and let “them” do the rest. It did not take very long to process the order and put the wheels in motion, so we sat back, relaxed and had a cuppa.

So there it is, that’s pretty much how we saved ‘some’ money (£300 pa) off our annual energy bills by shopping around. We have heard of people saving in excess of £600 pa which is a substantial sum! If you are reading this, then hopefully you will at least make sure you are on one of the cheapest tariffs as your first point of call.

But I am already on the cheapest tariffs

YAY! Well at least after a little effort you know for sure that you are on the best deal, it’s gives us all that little peace of mind that we are not being ripped off. Now you can focus on the next steps of making your home more energy efficient.

 

Saving money: Energy bills – intro

pound shaped lightbulb

Saving the pounds on our energy bills

Aside from the government “re-assuring” us that they plan to change regulations to force the energy companies to put us all on the lowest tariff, it still does not help the underlying problem, the price per unit of energy for both gas and electric! It’s all very well putting us all on the lowest tariff, but if that is continually rising through inflation and market wholesale prices, where does it leave us? NO WHERE I hear you scream! Especially as prices are continually rising and will continue to do so, forcing ever more people into fuel poverty.

When we first started trying to seriously cut back on our monthly out goings, one of the first things we knew we could cut back on was our energy bills. Everyone knows that if we use less, it will cost less…but you don’t always want to penny pinch your utility usage, especially during the winter months! But surely there were other things we could do.

The question was, where do we start

First off, we found there were at least four things we could do:

  1. Switch energy suppliers for both Gas & Electic
  2. Make our home more energy efficient
  3. Reduce unnecessary usage
  4. Generate our own energy

So to keep things ordered, we will try to go through each of the points above in future posts to see how we tackled each of these. You have more than likely considered many of these, but sometimes it’s interesting to see what others have done and how easy it can be.

 

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