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With the recent rise in energy bills, households throughout the country are feeling anxious and worried about being able to afford gas and electricity.

Here are some steps that you can take to ensure your bills are as low as possible over the winter months.

Use a smart meter to monitor your energy usage

A smart meter will show how much energy you are using each day. This will help you make more informed decisions around your energy usage and spend, and help you create a budget to keep your spending under control.

Get into good energy saving habits

Running your washing machine at 30 degrees, turning your heating down by one degree, and turning off lights and appliances when not being used will all make small savings that add up. Dry your clothing outdoors whenever possible and avoid using a tumble dryer which uses a lot of energy.

Check whether you have a surplus credit balance with your provider

Normally we’d advise that you claim the money back, but it might be worth keeping the balance there as a buffer in light of these price rises.

Check your direct debit

Make sure that your monthly direct debit payments reflect your actual use and inform your provider if it is inaccurate. This ensures that you are not paying too much or too little for your energy bills.

Find out what support is available

See what energy support schemes or grants you - or any vulnerable friends or relatives - may qualify for. If you are struggling with your bills, there is help available from the Government and energy suppliers. Water companies may offer you a water meter if it will reduce your bills or a capped rate for people on Means Tested Benefits.

See what support is available to help with the rising cost of living

Stay up to date with what’s happening in the energy market to see what deals are on offer

By signing up to alerts on energy comparison sites, you will be informed when a deal comes along and will be ready to switch if it is right for you. Some energy providers are offering fixed deals to their customers directly that may be better value than those offered on the wider market. If you get a notification from your supplier with a deal that looks affordable, consider fixing, as these deals can get snapped up very quickly.

Have a budget in mind if you are considering signing up to a fixed deal

Just because a deal is available doesn’t mean you should go for it. Make sure you know how much you are already paying for your energy and compare that with the deal available. A fixed tariff offer more than 20% above the energy price cap may not be worth it.

Check your other household bills

You might not be able to save on energy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cut costs across your other household bills. Reviewing your broadband, TV and mobile contracts could be a quick and simple way to reduce your monthly outgoings. You can be paid to switch your bank or bank account.

Maximise your income

See if you can apply for funds you might be missing out on, such as Marriage Tax Allowance or the Working from Home Tax Refund.

Prepare for the price hike

Adjust your budget to ensure you have the funds to cover the monthly rise in your bill.