How to save during the year of the squeeze

Ned Browne 30 January 2022

The start of the new year has been tough on many people's pockets but fret not! Here are practical ways to hold onto your pennies

Almost every household across the country will feel the pinch in 2022. Inflation is already above 5% and is likely to rise higher. National Insurance is going up by 1.25% in April.

Council tax rises are likely too. And, of course, energy bills will rise dramatically if your fixed-rate deal comes to an end. It is, indeed, a perfect storm.

Energy bills

If your fixed-rate tariff comes to an end this year, you will almost certainly see your energy bills rise dramatically.

And, one of the things that makes this year different is that even the most cunning of consumers will be unable to switch to better deals. Indeed, at the moment, the government’s price cap is the best rate out there.

That means, for the time being, you should probably stick with your current supplier. This leaves you with one course of action: try to use less energy.

Reduce energy consumption

There are lots of ways to reduce your energy consumption, including:

  • Turn down your thermostat, even if it’s just by one or two degrees.
  • Have shorter showers (or more shallow baths). You should change your showerhead too. Water-efficient showerheads force air into the water stream through a small hole. The water and air then mix in the showerhead, resulting in the power of a conventional shower, while minimising water usage. 
  • You can also save on water and energy by not overfilling your kettleonly boil the amount you’re going to use.
  • Always fill up your washing machine and dishwasher before you turn them on. Wash your clothes on a lower temperature setting too. If you’re planning on buying a washing machine or dishwasher, look for the Waterwise checkmark, which will rate the appliance for water consumption.
  • Buy an electric blanketthat’s a much cheaper way to stay snug and warm in bed compared to leaving the heating on.
  • Insulate your loft and the gaps between the floorboard joist. Installing double glazing or triple glazing will help too, but the payback period is much longer.
  • Eliminate drafts from such things as keyholes, letterboxes and doorframes. There are lots of ways to do thissearch online for details.
  • Consider replacing your boiler, especially if it’s an older model. The Energy Saving Trust has calculated that the average household would save over £300 a year if they replaced a G-rated gas boiler with an A-rated one.
  • Turn off your lights when you’re not in the room and don’t leave appliances on standby. Switch to energy efficiency light bulbs too.
  • If you’re buying new appliances such as fridges and freezers, look for the most energy efficient. A sticker on each appliance shows a series of colour co-ordinated bars from A+++ to G. A+++ is the most energy efficient.

Bang for your buck

As inflation bites, everyone is going to get less bang for their buckthe money in your pocket is worth less than it was last year. That means shopping around has never been more important.

The cost of household goods is rising, so is now the time to mend and make do? If you do need to replace an item, see if you can buy used (but like new). You can find these on eBay and Amazonin fact, Amazon Warehouse deals are products that are brand new, but come with damaged packaging. And the savings are hugeoften more than 30% off the original price.

Are you entitled to help?

If you worked from home during the 2020-21 and 2021-2022 tax years you should be able to claim tax relief of up to £125 per tax year. Claims can be backdated too.

Note: This tax relief is not available if you chose to work from home. In addition, certain people, such as those in receipt of universal credit, may be eligible for free insulation or a boiler grant. Ask your energy supplier if you’re eligible. 

Act now

Go through the checklist above and Google energy-saving tips too. Small savings soon add up. And this year, every penny is going to count.

Read more: How to cope with a higher cost of living

Read more: 11 Ways to keep your energy bills down

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