How can you save money on your household bills? TheSite.org reveals all.
Shivering with cold because you haven't turned the heating on isn't the only way to save money on bills. There are loads of ways you can cut the cash you spend on everyday expenses by shopping around to get a good deal on your services and utilities.
Pay by direct debit
Many companies offer discounts of up to 13% on services if you pay by direct debit. Direct debits are an automatic payment from your bank account and usually spread the cost of goods or services over the year, and you can often pay a standard amount each month, making it easier to budget.
Watch how you can conserve energy, save money and help to protect the environment. (Produced by Videojug)
Around 16,000 organisations currently use direct debit to collect payments from their customers - it's cheaper for them, so they make it cheaper for you as well. Have a look at the Direct Debit website for more information or check with your service provider on the options they offer.
You can often get a discount if you make your purchase via the internet. If you have any questions on the product, call the company's service centre and let them know you intend to purchase online. They may offer you the discount anyway if you purchase over the phone but saw the pricing information on their website, or they can give you the information you need to go ahead and buy online.
There are now several websites offering you a quick and easy way to compare the cost of different services in your area. Check out Uswitch for comparisons on utilities and phone, or try Switch with Which if you want to include comparisons for mobile phone providers and travel operators. You can also check out Unravelit (also includes credit cards and loans) and Buy.co.uk (water) as well.
Double up on products
Most suppliers of utilities or insurance offer a discount if you purchase more than one of their products, like both house contents and car insurance, or gas and electricity (often called dual fuel).
Ask your supplier
Your utility suppliers will be able to give you information on ways to save on usage and let you know if there are any grants you can apply for to make your home more efficient. Also ask your electricity supplier about 'economy 7' which means you pay less for your electricity at night and more during the day. So if you're usually out during the day, and use lights, heating and run your washing machine at night, you could save.
If your house has key or card operated meters for gas or electricity then you'll be paying over the odds. Unfortunately, some companies will want to run a credit check before they change your household over to a standard meter, but it's worth seeing if this is possible. Even if you don't pass the credit check you can approach other suppliers, often they will give you better treatment to try and gain your custom.
If you've got a mobile, your provider should be able to tell you the most appropriate tariff for your needs. If you're a frequent phone user it might be worth moving to a plan with a higher monthly standing charge, but cheaper call rates or more free minutes. If you use your phone rarely, perhaps choose a plan where you can pay as you go so you only pay for what you use.
It may sound simple, but using less of your gas, electricity and water can really help you save. This doesn't just mean turning off the lights when you leave a room, but also by making sure your home and appliances are efficient.
Check out UK Power for tips on energy efficiency and petrol savings. They also have a running costs calculator to give you an idea of how much your appliances cost to run.
If you own your own home, double-glazing and proper insulation will help save energy and cost. If you're renting, make sure your curtains are heavy enough to keep the cold out and the heat in, and keep doors closed to keep the heat from escaping from the rooms you use often.
To save on phone bills, try to make most of your calls during off-peak times when calls are cheaper. Sign up with a low-cost international provider if you make a lot of overseas calls.
To save water, remember to water your garden in the cooler parts of the day when less water will evaporate (it's better for the plants too). Taking shorter showers also saves on both water and heating costs. Use the 'half flush' feature on your loo if you have one or consider installing one if you don't. You could also look into installing a cistern displacement device to reduce the amount of water taken to refill your cistern each time.
Compare prices and ask for information from your suppliers and make sure you only buy from reputable companies. Don't buy if there's no phone number for complaints and always read the small print before you purchase. There are loads of ways to save money on the things you use every day that won't change your lifestyle, but could make a big difference to your wallet.
Avoid 0870 numbers
You can save money on 0870 numbers thanks to saynoto0870.com, which lists alternative numbers that should save you money on your phone bills to helpdesks, information and booking lines. You can also add any numbers you've discovered to the website to help others access cheaper calls.
Read the comment policy
Use our free question and answer service and speak to an expert!