This is a guest article written for the BoilerJuice Home Heating Oil Blog by Kelvin Goodson, senior writer at broadbandchoices.co.uk, the broadband comparison site.
Last month, Kim Bardsley of BoilerJuice wrote a really informative article about cutting your energy bill this winter. She pointed out that, while if you use heating oil you won’t fall victim to the same increases those who heat their homes using gas are, you’ll still use electricity, so there’s every reason for you to try and save money when it comes to what you spend on energy.
However, the recent round of price hikes by the ‘big six’ energy suppliers shows this can be easier said than done. As such, it may well be worth your while working out if you can save money elsewhere on your household bills to help cushion the blow of increased energy costs if they prove unavoidable.
One way of doing this you may not have considered is seeing if you can save money on your broadband. The chances are you can – a survey of more than 2,000 internet users we conducted earlier this year found UK households are potentially missing out on savings of £70 each a year by not switching broadband – that’s roughly £500million a year all together!
So, we’ve put together our top 10 tips on how to save money on your broadband so you can afford to keep warm this winter.
- Switch broadband – It may sound obvious, but more than one-third of UK households haven’t switched broadband in four years, despite prices dropping by over 50% in that time and broadband providers typically reserving their best offers and discounts for new customers.
- Shop around – You can find the best broadband deals available in your area using an Ofcom-accredited broadband comparison site like broadbandchoices.co.uk. This way you can compare deals side by side according to your preferences and see a cost breakdown which includes all charges.
- Take advantage of the latest offers – Shopping around will mean you can get in on the aforementioned offers and discounts reserved for new customers. Most providers now offer things like 6-12 months at half-price, credit or gift cards with new packages.
- Buy online – As with many retailers these days, broadband providers offer exclusive deals, additional discounts and extra incentives if you sign up online rather than over the phone or in a high street store as it costs them far less in terms of staff and other overheads.
- Pay line rental upfront – While you may not make many calls using your landline these days, you’ll have to pay line rental with almost all broadband packages as most broadband is delivered using the national telephone network. However, if you have the cash available many providers offer a discount if you pay a year’s line rental upfront, which can save you around £45-60 a year.
- Downgrade – It’s easy to get excited by all the extras that providers offer when signing up to a broadband package and end up getting things you don’t need. So, if you’re going to switch, think about whether you’re currently paying for broadband speeds you don’t need – 2-3Mb is sufficient for basic browsing and emailing – TV channels you don’t watch or call time you don’t use.
- Watch out for price increases – Frustratingly, there is nothing to stop your provider from asking you to pay more for your broadband mid-contract. However, under new guidelines from Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, that come into effect in January, your provider will have to give you 30 days’ notice of any increase and allow you to switch without charging a penalty fee for cancelling your contract early.
- Stick to your usage limit – Most of the packages offered by the major providers these days offer unlimited broadband. However, if you have a package with a monthly usage allowance and you go over it you are likely to get charged for it in some way. For example, BT will charge you £5 per 5GB you go over your allowance, while Sky will automatically start charging you for broadband if you’re on their free-with-Sky-TV package Sky Lite and go over your allowance twice in six months. If you find yourself regularly exceeding your allowance then upgrading to unlimited broadband is likely to cost you less in the long run.
- Bundle! – If you subscribe to a TV package as well as broadband and home phone and you get each service from a different provider there’s a good chance you could save a fair amount of cash by bundling the lot together with one provider – in fact you could save over £270 a year. TalkTalk and Virgin Media also offer customers exclusive offers on mobile phone plans, so you could save even more.
- Renegotiate with your current provider – If for some reason you don’t want to leave your current broadband provider – perhaps because of a lack of choice where you live or because you want to keep a particular service or feature – it’s worth asking them for a better deal if you’re coming to the end of your contract, particularly if you’ve been with them for a while. However, remember as we said earlier providers largely reserve their best discounts and offers for new customers.
You can compare broadband, phone and TV deals in your area at Saveonhouseholdbills.com.