Get your household bills in order before Winter arrives

Summer may only just be drawing to a close, but it’s never too soon to start getting your finances in order ahead of the winter months

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Here, we look at some of the things you can do to make those winter bills more manageable, particularly as colder weather can bump up the cost of outgoings such as energy bills.

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Keep energy costs down

Recent months have seen a spate of energy price hikes from the big six suppliers, with Scottish Power the latest to raise prices. Its standard tariff dual fuel customers will see prices go up by an average of £46 a year from October 8. This is the second increase from Scottish Power this year. In June it raised prices by an average of £63.

Victoria Arrington, spokesman for energy comparison service enegyhelpline.com, said: “These double price hikes are starting to feel particularly harsh, especially as the autumn and winter approaches. The cost of sticking to a big-name energy supplier is quickly outstripping the feeling of safety it gives customers.”  The good news is it’s easy to switch energy supplier and standard tariff customers could potentially save hundreds of pounds a year by moving to a better deal.

Prepare your property for winter

Winter weather can wreak havoc on n your home, so make sure your property is in a good state of repair before cold weather hits. For example, check that gutters are free from leaves and that your roof isn’t missing any tiles. If your house is damaged because your gutters are blocked or your roof leaks insurers will usually consider this general wear and tear which you’re responsible for maintaining, which means it won’t usually be covered by your home insurance.

If you need to make major home improvements before winter, make sure you choose the most cost-effective way to do this. Typically, a personal loan will be one of the cheapest ways to borrow if you don’t have savings available to cover costs, but always compare rates from several different providers before applying and check your credit rating first so you have an idea how likely you are to be accepted.

Give your car a winter once-over

It’s easy to get caught out by a sudden change in temperature, so always make sure you’ve got enough anti-freeze so that you don’t end up frozen engine when temperatures drop below zero. It’s also a good idea to make sure your tyres aren’t too worn, so that you don’t end up skidding on icy roads. The minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm.

If you’re worried about being stranded at the roadside in icy conditions, consider taking out breakdown cover. Always compare plenty of policies before buying as costs can vary widely depending on which provider you go to.

Consider bundling your tv/broadband and home phone services together

Colder weather often means we spend more time inside watching telly, but make sure you aren’t paying more for your TV package than you need to.

Before choosing a new TV deal, think carefully about which channels you want, and what your budget it is.

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Look for special features too, such as whether you can watch programmes you’ve missed on ‘catch up’ TV. You may also want to review your broadband and home phone services at the same time, as it’s often more cost-effective to sign up to a bundled package than to buy these three services separately.