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Spectator Money

What can we do to minimise our household bills?

10 January 2018

8:38 PM

10 January 2018

8:38 PM

Is the only reason Dry January is so popular because people tend to drink a little too much over the festive period? Or is part of it down to wanting to save money after spending too much on overly pricey last-minute Christmas presents? I wouldn’t be surprised if it were more due to financial reasons than health ones – though I can’t be certain.

If much of it is down to money woes, then the news that household bills increased by 13% in 2017 compared to the previous years probably won’t make you feel much better. There are all kinds of factors involved in this statistic, but energy bills play the largest part. According to data from, in 2016, the average household paid an energy bill of £1,383. In 2017, this rose to £1,625. Add to this price rises in car insurance (with an increase from a 2016 average of £692 to a 2017 average of £735), and the numbers soon add up. No wonder people are turning their backs on car ownership and looking for alternatives.

One interesting factor is how the numbers vary across the country; households in Wales saw the average energy bill increase by a whopping £458. Moving to another part of the UK to save on energy bills might come across as slightly drastic. Smart meters are fashionable, but will most likely only encourage clock-watching, without making any discernible difference to your energy consumption.

So is there any hope on the horizon? It’s all very well saying – as price comparison websites are wont to do – that it’s easier than ever to find the best available prices. But if price rises are occurring across the board, then that’s not much help. Even so, it might be the best option in a bad situation. Figures released before Christmas by Ofgem showed that 57% of standard households were on standard variable tariffs and were paying around £300 more than necessary every year. 70% of SSE customers were on the most expensive tariff available, while at British Gas the figure was 67%. I know it might seem like an obvious solution, and it won’t solve all of your woes. But as simple as it might seem, finding the best value energy supplier is something that many of us simply aren’t doing.

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