Can Families Survive the Hike in Energy Bills, Fuel and Even Travel?

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It seems there isn’t too much to be cheerful about at the moment. Energy bills are double what they were in 2004 and set to increase again, petrol is reaching record highs, topping the 137.43p set in May and, as if to add insult to injury, air fares are set to increase beyond the ‘routine’ school holiday hike. Whilst most of us agree that holidays have always been a luxury splurge, albeit a well-earned one, utilities are a basic need and, if the country’s motorways during rush hour are anything to go by, thousands of us can’t get by without our cars. But do we have to be held to ransom like this? Here at Savoo our sole aim is to save the Great British family as much money as possible so read on to find out what you can do. Utility BillsLess than 7 years ago, the average household annual energy bill was £522. Today, that figure has more than doubled to £1132. Unfortunately, it’s set to get worse. Scottish Power led the way with a 19% and 10% rise in electricity and gas respectively, closely followed by British Gas announcing a 16% increase in electricity and an 18% increase in gas. Scottish and Southern Energy has also announced it will be hitting millions of customers with an 18% and 11% rise from September. The rest of the ‘big six’ – nPower, EDF Energy and E:On – are set to follow suit over the next few weeks.

So what’s to blame? It’s certainly not inflation. If energy bills had risen in line with inflation at 2%, the average annual bill would be £600. Instead, bills have risen at 11% and if that trend were to continue, in the next 7 years we’ll be looking at annual bills in excess of £2400!

How to Beat it 

Right now we have two options; to set a fixed rate or to switch providers.

  • Fixed rate – although there is no guarantee that fixing a tariff with will pay off in the long run, that’s the advice currently being handed out. The best tariffs are filling up fast and the prices are set to rise by the end of summer. You’ll have to pay a premium to set your bills at a fixed rate but, with prices expected to continue to rise over the foreseeable future, its probably a worthwhile gamble. The current best fixed rate is the EDF Energy Fixed S@ver v2, set at an average of £1009 until September 2012.
  • Switching providers – if you don’t want to set a fixed rate, your second option is to switch providers but it’s best to wait until all suppliers have announced their changes. Then, you should use an online switching service like EnergyHelpline to find the best rates and deals available to you.

Petrol – petrol prices hit an all-time high back in May, reaching 137.43p and now the AA has said that, at this rate, that record will soon be broken and we’ll be paying even more. What’s made this such a bitter pill to swallow is Shell’s announcement of quarterly profits of £5 billion for April – June, hot on the heels of BP revealing their profits for the same period to be £3.2 billion. In other words, BP is making profits of £403 a second while Shell is taking in £629 a second.

How to Beat it

Sadly, there is very little the motorist can do to beat this constantly rising cost so much so that families are now making fewer trips and driving fewer miles than we were in 2008. In fact, 76% of the time people opt not to drive to counteract the cost of fuel. Now, more than ever, we need to save every single penny when it comes to petrol costs and Kenny puts forward some great ideas here.

Many people also suggest boycotting the big petrol stations or causing an all-out fuel protest reminiscent of the 2000 one which resulted in a (temporary) freeze on fuel duty. However, subsequent fuel protests over the last 10 years, never really got off the ground and had no effect.

Travel – taking a summer holiday is something that most of us work really hard for and, to be honest, both deserve and need. For years, families in particular, have struggled with airlines hiking their prices just in time for the school holidays but we’ve simply worked harder, longer hours to swallow the cost. However, on top of the normal rise in airfares, Ryanair recently announced a 12% price increase and the rest of the airlines are expected to follow suit. The increase will see a family of four paying an extra £300 on a trip to Florida.

On top of that, from January next year the new ‘green emissions tax’ will be added to your flight and not long after the air passenger duty will increase at double the rate of inflation, adding up to an extra £85 per person per one-way flight. It’s no wonder that many people believe that holidays abroad are going to become a thing of the past, enjoyed only by a privileged few.

How to Beat it

  • Shop online – you can save hugely by shopping online, not just on flights but on your complete holiday. Use online specialists like Travelocity or Expedia and look out for extra savings like voucher codes to use on those sites.
  • Barter – every travel firm wants you as their customer especially during the current market where people are staying at home either because they can’t afford to fly abroad or because they can’t afford to take more than a few days off work. Use your bartering skills to get extra discounts or free upgrades – travel firms are just as desperate as the rest of us and as long as your requests aren’t outrageous you might just be able to get more holiday for less money!
  • Mix and match – it sometimes works out cheaper if you book your flight, accommodation and car rental separately rather than as a package, especially when you can get voucher codes on each of these individual components. Check out our flights section for discounts on everything from airport lounges to airport parking to flights themselves. Then pick up a voucher code to save on your accommodation whether it’s a hotel, villa or a country cottage.

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