In these harsh economic times people are looking to save money wherever they can. Let's face it pay rises are minimal & in fact many people have had pay cuts & lots more count themselves lucky to still be employed. Therefore the only way to get more money in your pocket is to save on what you are already spending.
Utility payments for residential properties are just like a businesses fixed costs in that they are expenses that must be paid, however if you can make savings you increase your "bottom line" ie profit. So in the case of residential customers you can increase the cash in your pocket by saving on your fixed costs.
Saving on utilities however is not as easy as it should be, many utility providers have numerous "plans" that you can be on, all with different tariffs, such as; Standard Rate, Online Saver, Internet Plan, Saver 50, Fixed Tariff etc etc. In my opinion utility companies deliberately confuse consumers who then end up staying on the same payment plan to save on the hassle of switching. This means that thousands of people are paying too much for their utilities. The government is trying to force the big utility providers to make their bills easy to understand, for instance from April 2011 all providers had to provide annual usages on gas & electric bills, this was to make it easier to compare costs with other suppliers. They are now trying to get these same providers to cut down on the number of tariffs available to cut confusion for customers.
So how do you make sure you are not paying too much? The first step is to contact your current supplier & ask them if they have any "saver tariffs" that you could switch to which would mean you would be paying less. In an ideal world your supplier would contact you & advise you of these "special rates" & so reward you for being a loyal customer; however I very much doubt that this will ever happen. Just to give you an example I did a price comparison check on gas & electricity today using one of the big suppliers, compared to their standard tariff if I switched to one of their "special rate" deals I would knock 17% off my bill! Do you think that this company is going to give me a call & advise that I should switch?
In the above example I used a price comparison site to compare what I'm currently paying against what I could be paying. It is very important that when you do a comparison check that you use your actual usage figures & not simply your postcode & current supplier. If you don't use the actual figures ( remember above I advised that all suppliers must now show these on your bills, if they don't ring them & ask ) then you are not getting a true comparison & you could end up switching to a supplier under the wrong impression that you are going to save money.
Just a warning about price comparison sites, these sites are affiliates of the utility suppliers; this means that if you use their site & click through to a supplier & sign up for their services then the owner of the comparison website will receive a commission. If you do not switch your supplier the comparison site will not earn any money, for this reason make sure that you use more than one comparison site & see if they advise you to switch to the same supplier.
Another tip is, once you receive advice to switch to a new supplier, give your existing supplier a call to tell them you have found a better rate & can they match or beat it.
In the advice above I have mainly been talking about gas & electricity suppliers, water supply is not de-regulated yet so you are stuck with the same supplier, however if you are a low user of water then get a meter fitted & this will save you a lot of money.
Telecommunications & Broadband
For telecommunications including broadband there is the same confusion around as that encountered with gas & electricity supply. There are lots of companies offering all sorts of deals for "cheap broadband" "free calls" " ultra fast downloads" etc etc A lot of the suppliers use what is know as "confusion marketing" where they offer extremely cheap deals to entice you in but then have all sorts of small print & add-ons to totally confuse you. There is no quick fix here at the moment, basically you have to decide what you are looking for ie the fastest broadband or free calls 24/7 & then read all the small print of all of the current offers. Remember that when a company offers broadband at £x per month you have to add line rental to that in order to get the total cost.
Then you have to consider how much data you download every month & whether this will be included in the price. Next you have to consider how many calls you make per month & how much this is currently costing you. Check to see what "free calls" actually means, is there a limit, are 0870 numbers included, what about the cost for calling mobiles? Very often in order to receive these "free calls" there is a monthly charge, so the calls are not actually "free".
As most people take phone & broadband as a "package" in general there is a simple way to chose what you want, taking speed out of the equation, if you only use the internet to browse the web, check emails & do the occasional download then you should go for a package with a capped usage rate which will be the cheapest option. You will probably get evening & weekend calls thrown in with these packages, so unless you are around a lot during the day then this will be fine.
If you are a heavy internet user, or have kids!, then go for the unlimited data packages, that way you don't run the risk of getting a large bill because one of your kids left an online game running overnight!
If you make lots of phone calls from your landline then it makes sense to go for a package that includes unlimited calls 24/7. Some providers will even give you this free of charge. Remember though that these free calls do not include calls to mobiles, there is only one company I know of that allows free calls from landlines to mobiles. For calls to mobiles it is always best to use your free minutes from your mobile provider.
Please note I have deliberately not used any company names in this article as I do not want to seem biased towards any particular supplier. Switching from your current provider may seem like a lot of hassle, believe me, it shouldn't be. As long as you keep your wits about you & follow the advice above, then you will save money. It is probably worth re-assessing your utility spending every quarter unless there are some big announcements on the TV about prices falling for a particular utility ( when did that last happen? ).
John Mac is a Professional Network Marketer & Platinum Author. He helps people Save and/or Make Money. For more information please visit his Website.
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