If you’re a regular watcher of my Instastories, you may have witnessed the meltdown I had last week when I received a letter off British Gas to say that my electricity bills were increasing from £36 a month to a whopping £158 a month. I’m serious. After calling them to find out why I’m experiencing such a huge increase, it turns out that their initial prediction of £36 a month was far too low and my energy consumption since I moved into my apartment in December has far exceeded this amount.
As a result, there’s a huge backlog and I owe them more than £500. I don’t know why they couldn’t have brought this issue to my attention sooner and increased my bills in a much more manageable way months ago, but we’re in this mess now so I guess I’m just gonna have to deal with it.
As you can probably imagine, paying £158 a month over the next few months for my electricity is not going to be an easy fete, and so I’m making a few financial and lifestyle changes in an attempt to free up cash to pay my debt to British Gas and hopefully stop future bills being this high.
I’ve switched providers
Although I know British Gas isn’t solely to blame for my sky high bills (I mostly blame the developers for selling me a flat that’s not as efficient as it should be), I figured this was a good opportunity to switch providers anyway. I’ve heard great things about Bulb and after typing my details into the website to get a quote, I figured I had nothing to lose from giving it a try. Bulb also promised not to tie me into a lengthy contract, meaning I can switch again at any time if I wanted to.
I was really surprised to see just how quick it was to switch providers. It honestly took about 3 minutes to fill in the form before leaving the rest to Bulb. If you’d like to give it a try, copy and paste the referral link below and we’ll both get £50 Bulb credit.
Depending on your home and usage, this could potentially be a month of free electricity!
I’ve set up my smart meter
I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve only just set up my smart meter. Maybe if I’d done this sooner, my bills wouldn’t be as expensive as they are because I would have taken action much sooner. It’s been interesting to see how much energy each of my appliances use and identify the main culprits that have made my bills so high. My electric heaters and shower have really done a number on me.
I’m timing my showers
Showering is one of my favourite activities. Every now and then, as a treat, I’ll spend an hour in there – reminiscing about the past, daydreaming about the future, having imaginary arguments with my work pals about politics. And so I guess the reason behind my sky high energy bills is suddenly becoming as crystal clear as the water that emerges from the shower head and washes all my troubles away. Now that I’m faced with the reality of my energy usage, I’ve started timing my showers to ensure I’m taking no longer than 10 minutes. I can save the hypothetical confrontations for another time.
Another thing I’ve started doing is keeping my immersion heater switched off until I actually need to take a shower.
I’m looking for ways to keep warm without using my electric heaters
Winter is coming and when it gets here, I need to be prepared. I didn’t use my electric heaters that much last winter and would only turn them on for an hour or two in the evenings and maybe a short period at the weekend if I was pottering around the house. This year I’ll try to be a little more stingy. I’m gonna invest in some draft excluders and look for ways to insulate my windows that don’t involve covering them in tin foil or bubble wrap. I’ve got curtains this time around so hopefully that’ll help a bit too.
I’m annoyed that I’m having to go to these lengths to keep my bills down. Considering I’ve bought a brand new home, it shouldn’t be this difficult or expensive to keep it warm. I should be able to have the heating on without worrying about running up a huge bill, but here we are.
I’m switching bank accounts
Okay so this one isn’t directly related to energy, but since my bank balance has taken a huge blow recently, I figured this would be a good time to make a bit of easy money to put towards my bills. Over the last few years I’ve had multiple current accounts in a bid to make money from the interest. However, one thing I haven’t made the most of is switching-bonuses.
Basically, a switching bonus is a reward that a bank gives you for formally switching from your existing current account to their current account. It can be in the form of cash, a gift card, or some sort of discount.
You can’t just open an extra current account in order to get the bonus. You have to use the new bank’s official switching scheme to close down your old account and move all payments and direct debits over to the new one.
So once I’ve been paid at the end of the month, I’m going to use M&S bank’s switching service to close down my TSB Classic Plus account and move my money, salary and direct debits etc over to my new account with M&S. I have a number of other current accounts – Starling, Monzo, Club Lloyds and Tesco Bank – and I’ll keep those as they are.
I’m meal planning my heart out
Again, this isn’t energy-related but it’s a move I’m making to free up cash to put towards my debt. Over the last few years I’ve gotten really good at cooking meals in bulk and freezing them for later. I’ll cook a gigantic chilli, curry or sausage casserole before splitting it into a number of Tupperware tubs to last a lifetime. There’s just one problem – I then go and undo all this hard work and thriftiness by also buying loads of perishable food that I don’t eat quick enough. Salads and fruit are a prime example of this! Also, I’ll sometimes go way over budget by buying a bunch of gluten free pizzas and chicken nuggets from Tesco, despite already having a ton of meals left in the freezer.
The other night I sat myself down and made a plan of everything I’m going to eat over the next few weeks. With the exception of a couple of meals, most of the food I included in the plan is stuff that’s already cooked and in my freezer. If I stick to the plan, I honestly think I could get away with spending as little as £30 on food for the rest of the month. If I eat out with friends at all, I’ll take that out of my Fun Budget rather than my Food Budget.