If there was one word that could sum up our decade so far, it would be austerity. Governments, companies and especially individuals are all cutting back on spending. If you’re thinking of adopting your very own austerity programme, a great place to start is at home. Nadine Bourne from XLN Business Services explains how With a little imagination and a few simple ideas you can easily cut back your spending on the household telecoms and utility bills that bleed dry your bank account every month. Here are five simple tricks to help get you started:
1) Switch to automatic payments and internet billing
One of the quickest wins is to check your telecoms and utility bills for any extra charges. Utility companies like to make sure they pass on the cost of service for certain types of customers – which is bad news if you don’t make regular monthly automatic payments (direct debit) to clear your account, or if you still get physical bills sent through the mail. To get these charges removed, simply switch to automatic payments and/or internet billing – the added bonuses of course being you are less likely to miss a payment and receive unwanted letters on your doormat.
2) Don’t pay for telephone calls
Back in the bad old days, everyone paid for the telephone calls they made. And many people are still reluctant to move to the poorer quality and inconvenience of Voice-over-IP. But these days there’s no need to choose. Simply contact your telephone company and ask for a call plan that includes as many minutes as the telephone calls you make – or an “unlimited” package if you’re not sure. That way you can get the best quality calls, but only pay a small fixed price for them.
3) Switch contracts when they expire
Another way the big utility players make money is by increasing your charges when your fixed term contract with them expires, or by simply offering the best deals only to new customers. This means you can save money by making sure you switch tariffs whenever your current contract expires. An easy way to make sure you remember is to use your work calendar to set a reminder for the end of your contract – even if it’s two years away, you’ll get the reminder and remember to find a new provider.
An easy saving to make on your energy bills is through insulation. It costs very little to have someone come and fill your ceilings and floors with insulation, yet the winter savings (and summer if you have air conditioning) can be substantial. The biggest problem is getting the timing to book an installer right – everyone tends to want insulation just as winter hits and the heating turns on. Why not book one immediately – or set another reminder for the summer months when installation is both cheap and easily available?
5) Low energy lightbulbs
Another easy energy saver is to switch over your entire building’s lightbulbs from the traditional type to the new low energy bulbs. Low energy lightbulbs got a bad reputation a few years ago as they were very slow to get going and the light they provided was harsh. Nowadays the light they give is just as good as traditional ones and their turn-on times are better too. So why not switch over and see your electricity costs fall?