Piggybank News

November 9, 2011

Are you or your tenants living in fear of the bills?

If not, then you should be thankful,  because according to the latest research, one in four of the British population does live in fear of bills! A quarter of UK adults admit to getting stressed before opening their bills according to a study from a price comparison website.  A shocking 1 in 5 also confessed to delaying opening as well as paying bills, because they are too afraid to face them.

54% of people said the biggest fear factor was that the cost of bills keeps increasing at rates which are not matched by their salary and one third admit to having more money going out of their current accounts every month than they have coming in.

If this any of this describes your situation then it is obviously time to regroup and see if making some simple changes can help reduce your outgoings.  If you are a landlord and this situation could apply to any of your tenants then it is only a matter of time before the rent payments become an issue.  Offering some straightforward advice and assistance now could help avoid a crisis later.

Here are a few suggestions from the helpful Piggy at Piggybank News…

1) The cost of fuel is considerably higher than it was just a couple of years ago.  Shopping around between different providers may well produce decent savings, as may agreeing a ‘bundled’ deal to obtain your energy supplies from a single source. For example, service bundling supremo Utility Warehouse offers a Double the Difference Money Back Guarantee for complete peace of mind.  At NSP Resources we can help landlords who would like to assist tenants in switching services across.

2) There are a number of easy ways to reduce usage that are surprisingly effective in reducing costs.  For example, if you have fireplaces which are open but never used, a chimney balloon may significantly reduce your energy consumption by reducing the draft through the chimney. A one or two degree reduction in the thermostat settings of your central heating and a five to ten degree reduction in the temperature of your hot water will produce immediate savings, as will taking simple steps such as turning off lights in rooms which are not occupied, turning timed water and heating on a little later and off a little earlier, not leaving windows and doors (external and internal) open unnecessarily and turning electronic devices off at night rather than leaving them on standby.  ‘Low consumption’ light bulbs also offer a fast return in terms of savings.

3) Installing loft and wall insulation is also a proven cost saving step and it is possible to get help with the costs of this.  if you are a landlord you can apply on behalf of the tenant and if they are on benefits the work is likely to be carried out free of charge. Cocoon my home have links with a number of councils offering special deals and grants, including Milton Keynes.

4) Although the financial benefits of more esoteric measures such as using alternative energy sources are less well established, solar panels are currently offering good rates of return through a government scheme.  Not only does the occupier benefit from reduced bills by using the electricity produced, the government pays a premium (feed in tariff) for buying the surplus energy.  (In the case of a rental property the landlord would benefit from the feed in tariff whilst the tenant receives the benefit of lower bills) The benefits of this scheme are due to reduce from 12th December 2011 but if you have some capital to spare and your property is suitable then it could still present a reasonable investment.  If you are short on capital there are also a large number of suppliers offering ‘rent a roof’ type schemes.  With these schemes the panels are fitted and maintained free of charge, typically for 25yrs.  As the occupier you gain from lower bills and the company benefits by claiming the government grant.  On the face of it this seems like a fair deal.  You should be aware however that suppliers tend to be choosy about which properties they will supply – looking for roofs with plenty of sunlight – and there have been some complaints about aggressive sales techniques.

5)  It’s not just energy prices that have increased, the cost of food has also risen dramatically over the last year and a report by the UK supermarket Asda revealed how families are now £728 worse off a year, having £14 less to spend a week than they did in August 2010.  A number of places now offer deals with cashback on pre-pay purchase cards which can be very helpful in keeping to a pre-planned budget.  Personally I use the UWDC cashback card as it offers up to 25% reduction against my household utility bills when do my regular food shopping – it’s not reliant on ‘luxury’ purchases.

6) Check your credit card and bank statements – it is surprisingly easy to overlook an old membership or subscription fee.  if you are not benefiting from the service any longer then make sure that the payments are cancelled even if it’s only a couple of quid a month!

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