With not long left until the clocks go back on October 25, autumn is well and truly here – which means winter is just around the corner.
Given that temperatures are set to dip, and the nights are about to get darker, now is the time to take steps to give your home and car the once-over, and to make sure gas and electricity bills remain affordable as energy use increases.
Plus, as you get an extra hour for free when the clocks change, why not seize the opportunity to give other areas of your finances the over-over, too? That way, you can make savings that will last through the winter – and beyond.
Here’s our guide to help you make the most of your money and be like the ‘Money Calm Bull’ this autumn.
Save money on your energy bills
With summer firmly behind us, and darker, colder months looming, we are moving towards the peak energy usage time of year.
As households start to ramp up the heating and have the lights switched on for longer, gas and electricity bills will start to edge upwards.
While this may leave you shivering at the thought of how high this winter’s fuel bills could be, it’s not all bad news, as there are some simple steps you can take to keep a lid on energy costs.
- If you’ve not switched supplier for a while, you are likely to be on your supplier’s costly default standard variable rate tariff. Act now to shop around and see what else is available to ensure you’re on a competitive deal. You could save at least £286* on your energy bills when you compare with MoneySuperMarket. To get started, just provide details of your home and energy habits.
- Make your home more energy efficient. Simple steps to save both energy and money include turning appliances off standby, using energy-saving lightbulbs, draught-proofing windows and doors, and turning your thermostat down by one degree. Also try to only use your dishwasher or washing machine when you have a full load, and, when boiling the kettle, only put in as much water as you need.
Take steps to protect your home
With rain, wind and harsh weather set to batter our homes during the colder months, now is the time to take steps to protect your property. High winds can cause roof tiles to loosen and become hazardous, while a drop in temperature can cause pipes to freeze, then burst.
To remain valid, most insurance policies require you to ensure your property is properly maintained for claims against weather damage.
- Ahead of the worst winter weather, check your roof for loose tiles. Clear any leaves that are close to your gutters and clear drains of any debris.
- Given that water pipes are most likely to burst during cold weather – and especially when homes are left empty – if you’re going away, set your central heating so it comes on for a few hours each day. Make sure pipes are well insulated with lagging. Locate your stopcock so you can turn it off in the event of a burst pipe.
- Get a registered boiler specialist to ensure your boiler is in working order now before the winter chill really sets in. You might also want to consider boiler cover to help with the cost of repairs and servicing. But before paying for a policy, check cover is not already included in your home insurance.
- Move garden furniture inside to avoid wear and tear during the winter months. Check sheds and greenhouse are in good repair and trim trees close to the property.
- Take the time to revisit your home insurance policy to check the level of cover you have, and to see if you are covered for storm damage and burst pipes. . Latest data reveals that average premiums for a home insurance policy (combined buildings and contents) increased by 3.68% over the last year – the equivalent of just over £5. If your home policy is due to expire, don’t auto-renew. Head here to compare policies to see if you can get a more competitive deal by switching.
Prepare your car for hazardous weather
As the nights draw in and winter approaches, you need to think about the increased risk of breakdowns and accidents. If you’re going to be driving in adverse conditions, you need to be prepared.
- Check the oil level, anti-freeze and hazard lights – and also the tyres for tread depth and pressure. Make sure the spare tyre is in good condition.
- Have an emergency kit in your car filled with essentials such as a phone charger, torch, reflective triangle, high-vis jacket, jump leads, first aid kit, shovel, blankets, food and water.
- When on the roads, maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front at all times. Take particular care to look out for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. In cold or icy conditions, drive carefully. Don’t accelerate, brake or take sharp corners too quickly.
- Get motor breakdown cover in place. You can compare policies here. Make sure you have your emergency breakdown number stored in your phone.
- Don’t just accept the renewal quote from your existing insurer at renewal time. To compare premiums, head here. You may be able to save as much as £284** by moving to a new provider and could get a new quote in just a matter of minutes.
Make the most of your money
Given that our finances can take quite a battering over the festive period, it’s worth taking steps now to get your finances in order – ahead of the big Christmas spend.
The extra hour you get when the clocks go back is the perfect time to deal with your debts, and to make savings on as many of your household bills as you can. Here are some simple ways to get ‘Money Calm.’
- Clear credit card debt – if you want to try and clear your credit card debt but are currently paying interest on your balance, you might want to consider a 0% balance transfer card. This can offer interest-free repayments for more than two years, giving you time to pay off what you owe. To see which cards you are most likely to be eligible for, make use of our eligibility checker.
- Look for a low-rate loan – if you have lots of outstanding debts with different rates of interest, you might want to think about consolidating them onto one personal loan. This can make it a lot easier to keep track of what you owe. Head here to compare deals and find a competitive rate. Check out our eligibility checker tool to find the loan offers you’re most likely to get accepted for.
- Cut your mortgage rate – with rates on mortgages at rock bottom, you may be able to make significant savings by remortgaging, and especially if you’re on your lender’s standard variable rate (SVR). Head here to compare lenders to see what deals could work for you.
- Get into the savings habit – with Christmas just a few weeks away, now is a good time to start squirrelling money away. To find the best rates, head here. You can also still save money tax-free by taking advantage of the £20,000 ISA allowance for 2020-21. You can compare ISAs here.
- Switch to a new current account – if you’ve stuck with the same bank for as long as you can remember, now could be the time to find a new current account. A new account could offer a host of benefits, including a switching incentive, a free authorised overdraft (up to a certain amount), interest on in-credit balances, and cashback on purchases.
* 51% of customers that applied to switch via MoneySuperMarket could save at least £286.50, June 2020.
** 51% of consumers could save up to £284.51 Consumer Intelligence, June 2020