When it comes to money-saving tricks, Martin Lewis is your man.
From credit card advice to the best parcel delivery firms to use, the finance pro has helped people all around the country save a lot of cash through his website.
In his latest blog instalment, Martin showed readers how they can shave off the amount they pay for utilities.
With lots of people working from home and having to shell out on additional heating and electricity costs, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
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The money-saving expert said more than 70 per cent of bill payers use direct debit to settle their accounts.
While he views this as a good thing (as it can get you cheaper rates) it can also mean companies have a “reservoir” of customers’ money as the sum is based on estimates.
“Most issues are because monthly direct debits are based on an estimate of your usage,” he said.
“These estimates can be way out, especially when new to a firm and it has little to go on.
“This may result in massive overpayments which unnecessarily reduces your disposable income, or big underpayments which risk you facing a crippling future backdated bill.”
While he also advised submitting regular readings, this is not the tip to get your money back.
He revealed that although it is normal for your account to be in credit half the year through summer, and in debt, during the heating heavy winter months, there is a way to reclaim back a chunk of cash if companies have taken too much.
He explained: “Condition 27 of energy suppliers’ licences is that they must take reasonable steps to ensure direct debit levels are fair, and to explain the level they’re set at. So call up and ask – there may be a justifiable reason.
“If not, the rules state that if credit has accumulated and a customer asks for it back, suppliers must refund it – or clearly explain why not.If they don’t, then you can make a complaint via Resolver , which will auto-escalate problems to the Energy Ombudsman if it is not sorted.
“Some firms, including big ones, do promise automatic refunds if your credit’s too high on the anniversary of you joining, yet I’d still check.”
There are also dangers if you are paying too little each month.
Martin Lewis said that if you owe far more than you should for the time of year, it “may seem like a win in the short term, but it’s storing up trouble for the future”.
He added: “Fail to deal with it and you’ll likely see a hugely hiked direct debit in the future, forcing you to catch up, or a huge one-off bill if you switch elsewhere (that’s if you’re allowed to, big energy debt can stop you switching, even if it’d cut your bill).
“So don’t delay – speak to the energy firm about increasing the direct debit. If it’s unaffordable, Simple Energy Advice can give details of help available.”
During his blog he also shared the news of a woman who saved money on her bills by listening to his advice.
She messaged the finance pro to say: “Phoned my energy supplier as I was paying £147/month, and was £960 in credit. They reduced my DD to £80 and I got a £570 refund.”