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Choosing a Utility Supplier

By: Sam Harrington-Lowe - Updated: 23 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
Chooseing A Utility Supplier Utilities

Your utilities these days cover a bit more ground than the options on the Monopoly board! As well as water and electricity, you also have gas; and telephone, television and broadband can all now be classified in the same group.

Moving into a new home is a good opportunity to ensure you’re getting the best deal for your utilities. It’s a good time to shop around, look for the best deal to suit your usage and compare prices.

Have a Think About Your Usage

What you pay for your supplies depends largely on how you use them. If everyone is out of the house all day for example, having cheap daytime calls is impractical. Or if you’re all at home most evenings using light, water, heating etc, it’s worth seeing when the lower rates kick in.

Often it is possible to get more than one service from a supplier – mobile phone and landline for example, or gas and electricity – and this can often work out cheaper. But as with all these things, do a bit of homework. Tariffs might look like a really good deal, but they will all have peak times and higher or lower costs depending on different factors so with any of them, make sure they suit your lifestyle and habits.

How to Shop Around

You will often find when moving into a property that utilities are already in place so it’s worth checking the existing supplier’s tariff. It’s also worth checking with your new neighbours if you think they won’t mind giving you a bit of advice. It may well be the case that they already know the best deals locally. But for checking out the competitors, it’s back to the good old internet for the easiest way with the least legwork.

For power suppliers there are loads of websites you can use to compare costs for suppliers of electricity, gas and even nuclear power based on your postcode, house size and usage. This is an effective way of checking and comparing all the suppliers in your area very easily. It can really save you hundreds of pounds over a year.

When it comes to telephone, you may be faced with less choice to be honest. BT still controls the vast majority of the UKs telecommunications, and even supply the lines to the other companies who will charge you less. But do check around and again, there are plenty of sites that offer you the option to compare phone packages online. Also, look to see if you can add broadband to your packages as having it all in one place is often the cheapest option.

Water supplies again are going to offer little choice, but look into it anyway.

Going Green

You may have other factors you would like to build into your choice, such as greener companies or renewable energy solutions. Once you have looked through the companies offering you a service in your area, you will be able to check these companies to see what their policies are. Many are committed to reducing their carbon footprint, and in some areas, wind or solar power may be available.

How Will You Pay Your Bill?

The best way to pay bills really is Direct Debit or Standing Order. Not only will it save you the fuss of having to remember to pay each bill manually, it’s greener, generating less paper. Added to this is the fact that many suppliers will charge a small fee to bill you each time and realistically you can see the bank payments are a good option.

If you need to budget carefully then a monthly standing order is best, so you know exactly what is going out each month – and try to make the payment just after your payday so you can get all the bill paying out of the way! Discuss this with the supplier to see what is a sensible figure each month and monitor it to ensure you’re not falling short, or paying too much.

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