Direct Line magazine

The true cost of running your home

Updated on: 21 May 2020

A couple look over some bills

Mortgage payments, energy costs, council tax, home insurance, water charges… it can seem as though the list of bills for your property is never-ending.

Here’s our rundown of all the costs you need to consider, and some ideas on how to reduce them.

Water bills

According to Water UK, the average water and sewage bill for 2018/19 was £405 a year.

Unlike utility suppliers for gas and electricity, your water supplier is fixed for your location and can’t be changed.

Your water bill will be worked out in one of three ways:

Metered. You’ll receive a bill based on how much water, and waste water, you use.

Assessed. If you don’t have a water meter, your usage could be assessed based on the size of your home and the people living in it.

Unmetered. Some people may be billed based only on the size of the property.

Depending on how much water you use, switching to a meter could save you money. Check out the Consumer Council for Water’s water meter calculator to see if you could benefit from switching.

Mortgage costs

Your mortgage is likely to be your biggest monthly outgoing. If you haven’t reviewed yours for several years and you’re currently on your lender’s standard variable rate, you might want to see if you could cut costs by remortgaging. For example, based on a typical £150,000 25-year repayment mortgage, monthly payments would cost you £861 on the average standard variable rate of 4.82%.

If you remortgaged to a two-year fixed rate deal at 1.15%, your payments would drop to £576. That’s a saving of £285 a month.

Council tax bills

In April 2019, council tax bills in England increased by an average of 4.5%, meaning an average increase of £75.60 for band D properties.

Students and those living alone may be eligible for a discount, and it’s possible your home may be in the wrong council tax band.

Insurance premiums

Buildings and contents insurance is essential if you want financial protection should anything happen to your property or possessions.

You can usually reduce costs by paying up-front, if you can afford to, rather than monthly. You may also want to think about increasing your excess – the portion of any insurance claim you must pay yourself. This will lower the cost of your insurance, but remember that the cost to you when claiming will be higher.

You should also get quotes from several providers at renewal, so you can be sure your cover is still competitive.

Energy bills

The best energy tariff for you will depend on where you live and how much energy you use, so it’s worth regularly checking you’re on the best possible deal.

You can also reduce your bills by making sure your home is as energy efficient as it can be. For example, according to the Energy Saving Trust, fitting a water-efficient shower head could save a four-person household about £70 a year on gas for water heating, plus a further £115 on water bills if they have a water meter.

You can save roughly another £30 a year just by remembering to turn your appliances off standby mode, and around £14 a year by turning off lights when not using them.

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