Making savings in the home

Making savings in the home  To cut costs, why not try looking closer to home to make savings Here’s how to make simple instant changes at home as well as improvements to benefit you in the long term too.

Tracking expenditure
Start by looking at your household bills. If you haven’t switched supplier for some time, check you are on the best tariff. Recently, British Gas cut electricity by 10% after a fall in wholesale prices, according to and other suppliers are doing the same. Also shop around for cheaper broadband connection and home phone line rental and call charges. The well-known suppliers don’t always have the best prices, so always check your options. For an impartial comparison of all suppliers, use the compare and buy tool.

Taking a look at all your other household expenses can help too. You might find you’re spending a lot on food shopping or you’re not fully using your digital TV package.

Home appliance MOT
Give your appliances a health check. They could be wasting energy because they aren’t running efficiently. And a waste of energy is a waste of money. Take your fridge for example. If the seal around the door is coming away, it has to work harder to keep the contents cool and so it uses more energy.

If you decide to replace any of your appliances, the Energy Saving Trust recommends you look for new ones which carry the Energy Saving Recommended logo. It guarantees that they have met strict energy efficiency criteria, will cost less to run and will also help reduce carbon emissions.

And with your existing appliances, using them differently can save energy. Try boiling only as much water as you need in a kettle. Or using the right-sized pan for the hob and using a lid when boiling water. When you do the washing, make sure it’s a full load – one full load uses less energy than two half loads. And wash at 30°C; it uses 40% less energy than higher temperatures.

Property maintenance
By making simple home improvements, you can make great savings. According to the Energy Saving Trust : “Around half the heat loss in a typical home is through the walls and loft”, which means you could be spending more than you should on energy bills. So check how well your home is insulated. See the Energy Saving Trust’s guide to Home insulation and glazing to see how much you could save. And to help with the costs towards making your home more energy efficient, there are lots of benefits and grants available. also has some useful advice to help you see what you could be entitled to.
There are lots of small changes you can make too. Keep heat from escaping through your floorboards by filling gaps with sealant from DIY stores. Or invest in carpets with underlay and curtains with insulation lining. Just by turning your thermostat down and reducing your room temperature by 1°C can save you around £65 a year.

And to save more energy, just change some of your habits. Always turn the lights off when you leave a room and don’t leave appliances on standby. Also, don’t leave laptops or mobile phones on charge unnecessarily.

Home and contents insurance
Making sure your home and contents are covered can save you money in the long run. With home insurance , your property will usually be protected if destroyed by fire, floods or subsidence. And damage to fixed fittings such as baths and kitchens are often included too. So if anything happens to your home, you won’t have the worry of sudden and expensive costs.

Insuring your contents is just as important. With the cost of replacing the contents of an “average” British home estimated at £45,000 it pays to have good cover (source: Sainsbury’s Media centre 07.05.09). Policies usually cover the loss and damage of your furniture, electrical goods and other items. Generally, you’ll be covered against theft and fire but you could have the option to insure against accidental damage, such as spillages on carpets.
Insurance can cover DIY mishaps that might happen. Like when you’re doing up your kitchen and accidentally damage any appliances in the process. So it’s worth being financially prepared should anything happen, to avoid having to pay out large sums later. Just always check what’s included in your cover and if there are any exclusions.

Joanne Mallon, Sainsbury’s Home Insurance Manager, says: “Home insurance policies vary a great deal so it’s essential that people compare them not only on price but also on the level of cover they provide.” (source: Sainsbury’s Media Centre 18.05.09). Ask yourself if your home insurance provides unlimited buildings cover, a substantial no-claims discount and the option to protect your no-claims discount. It should provide standard cover for accidental damage and the option to extend it, say for example, if you own a pet that might cause damage. Also ask if you’ll be charged for things like paying your premiums by Direct Debit, if your cover extends to new for old replacement on stolen items, and if your living costs will be covered if you’re forced to vacate your property because of damage.

(First published by Money Matters Fri, 24 Jul 2009)