Utilities – Renewal time

Well, it’s that time of year when I need to review my utilities and find a new rate for the coming year. I was on a fixed price deal which fitted my criteria last year. With all these rate rises and the way that electricity is climbing in price I feel like the utilities are pricing in the electric cars we will be driving in the next few years already. Electricity prices are rocketing away when I look at the kWh rates compared to the Gas prices being quoted.

When I looked at electric/hybrid car costs, none included the utility charges. You have to go to a 3rd party site to find a comparison calculator to find out the real cost of running a car.

My current energy supplier is one of the ‘big 6’; the fixed deal was fine but when I went to review the alternative tariffs for this year, they are saying that the standard variable rate option is the best for me! Well, that’s a surprise, as that is normally the worst deal. (Or is that just another marketing fake news item?) The fixed price deals they are offering add £20 per month! to my bills (when I currently pay £40 pm – that’s just too much!) and have removed all the ‘discounts’, ie dual fuel & paperless billing. I have also noticed that they don’t offer me all the plans that are available via the comparison sites – so they are trying to stitch me up by only offering limited more expensive options via their own site! – Rip OFF ! For that reason alone I am moving supplier this year, I have been pondering it for a few months anyway but this puts the cherry on the cake.

My current supplier’s cheapest alternative offer – a ‘smart meter’ plan – well, sorry but I am not having one of those. I was speaking to someone yesterday who said that they swapped to a smart meter and their fuel charges have gone UP. They also have the problem of moving supplier resulting in the meter becoming useless. These marketing quotes of smart meters saving you money is rubbish. If you don’t monitor your fuel usage then, ok they may be an eye-opener for you and enable you to save money when you realise how much fuel you are using just on ‘tick over’. But if you are like me and watch your fuel usage and take regular readings then you will find that a smart meter will MAKE NO DIFFERENCE.

So bye bye ‘Big 6’ and hello alternative, disruptive supplier. Ok, it means moving to a variable rate plan but with no exit fees I can monitor and move around if the rates seem better elsewhere. The move will save me £90 which is reasonable and on par with past renewals. It’s not the largest saving on the table but I am happy to pay a little bit more if the supplier has ECO credentials & customer service that they actually live up to.

I will become a utility ‘rate tart’ for the next year and see how the utility market runs. I have researched having solar panels as electricity is my highest use fuel source but it does not pay. My house isn’t south facing, so I will not get the ROI that’s possible with a south-facing roof. Shame I don’t have a large garden as I could do what all those farmers around me are doing (filling their fields with solar cells). I could setup panels in my garden. But, hey I wasn’t thinking about that when I first bought my house nearly 10 years ago. I will just continue to look at other options to reduce and conserve home fuel.

While reading other blogs and articles I found this:

utility-graph

Source: Santander and Bloomberg Article

Between 2006-2016 the cost of U.K. gas and electricity swelled by over 70% and this is without the huge increase in alternative fuel vehicles and the time bomb of closing power stations.

Sept 2018 Update

Its been a long time since I last posted, mainly because the summer has been good and I’ve been out and about enjoying it rather than weekends writing posts.

I’ve not lost my FI path, I am happily trundling along. I have been shuffling funds around in between outdoor activities such as sorting out my garden and enjoying the warm weather. I have been reading about other’s travels (ourtour & dossers diary)  and looking at what I would like to do when i reach FI freedom.

I still feel depressed by work and the environment with ‘The Man’ just continues to go downhill. My micro-manager boss announced out of the blue that he was leaving (not even working his notice properly) – the office grapevine is that he was asked to leave. A new external boss was announced, all cloak and dagger behaviour. The announcement was in the form of an all company email! They didn’t even tell the team affected first. The new boss started last week. Wow, what a change, the new boss is never in, in fact they hardly ever speak to any one in the team/office. Its a plus and benefit in one sense for me.

The plus side is that my fitbit charge is saying that my resting pulse rate has gone down quite a bit since the arrival of the new boss, maybe because I’m not being micro-managed every hour of the office day. Yay!

I so feel like quitting the job though. Its not the best place to work but it seems that there isn’t a good workplace at the moment. Watching people around me on the road to burnout. I am not going to work in London which is the only set of job offers on the table. I don’t want the commute.

I meanwhile am trying to stay positive when outside the office.  Trying to focus on stashing my cash, sorting out my tax return and prepping to leave – keeping that eye on FI freedom. Everyone around me in the office is in a panic and fearful of losing their job – if they want to lay me off, they can. I can go do something more useful instead, like cycling and getting fit.  I am using the fitbit to prompt me to increase my activity levels as I feel unfit and unhealthy. I will not let ‘The Man’ get me down.

There is more to life than working for ‘The Man’ so need to focus on the escape dreams and plans. I have been planning some holiday time – a week in the Lakes (so I can go walking and cycling with family). Also a short trip to London to see a show and some museums and experience some sights and delights. As others have said, there is no point living like a hermit and so frugally that you feel unhappy but also there is no need to splash the cash and waste money when some canny discounting and voucher surfing can undercover the deals to keep the cost down and the experience count high.

I will continue to keep a positive outlook and get some FI updates on here to show how my fund is growing. I feel I am making progress this year and now have to tackle moving my old paid up pension funds to a SIPP. I saved my full ISA allowance last year so need to do the same this year and I’ve just re-mortgage my BTL and reduced the payment so the margin is better and will help to offset the increased BTL taxation. I will look to sell the BTL when I have given up my job and have dropped down into the lower tax band.

So glass of red wine in hand I will enjoy this evening and plan my weekend ahead. What red wine you say!! A glass isn’t too unhealthy…. plus the wine didn’t cost me anything. It was payment for letting my neighbour use my garage to store some of their ‘stuff’ while they had work done on their house.

Cheers!