Here's how to use your savings to offset soaring energy bills

Savings earning a pittance? Here’s how to eke out every penny in returns – and offset soaring energy bills

  • Inflation is set to hit 13 per cent before the end of the year
  • Energy bills are unprecedently high and are forecast to head towards £5,000 
  • Here are some top tips to tackle the cost-of-living crisis
  • Boosting your rates and generating your own electricity are two ways to save 

With inflation set to hit 13 per cent before the end of the year and annual energy bills forecast to head towards £5,000, we will all need our money to work harder to help us stay afloat. 

The good news is there are a few ways you can use your savings to tackle the cost-of-living crisis – from boosting your rates to generating your own electricity.

Get the best savings rate

Despite interest rates rising, many of us still have savings sitting in accounts earning next to nothing. 

More than £30 billion languishes in accounts earning annual interest of 0.1 per cent or less.

The best instant-access savings rate is 1.81 per cent, from Zopa’s Smart Saver. 

Shift £10,000 into that from an account paying 0.1 per cent and your annual interest leaps from £10 to £181.

Inflation and energy bills are unprecedentedly high: here’s how to use your savings to tackle the cost-of-living crisis. Picture: file image

Shield savings from tax

All basic-rate taxpayers can earn up to £1,000 in interest on their savings tax-free every tax year (April 6 to April 5 the following year). 

In recent years, as a result of rock-bottom savings rates, the idea of earning more than £1,000 a year in interest seemed far-fetched. 

But given rates are now on the rise, it is becoming more likely for those with reasonably sized savings pots.

For example, if you have £30,000 in the top-paying savings account – 3.5 per cent on a five-year fixed-rate savings bond with Aldermore – you would exceed the £1,000 allowance and lose some interest to the taxman. 

The allowance falls to £500 for higher-rate taxpayers – so just £15,000 would earn more than your allowance in Aldermore’s account. You can avoid this problem by moving your money into an Individual Savings Account (Isa). Shawbrook Bank’s one-year fixed-rate cash Isa pays 2.37 per cent interest.

Interest rates on Isas lag those available on standard savings accounts, so only shift money over that runs the risk of incurring tax.

Clear credit card debts

Interest rates on credit cards are at a 24-year high, so if you have an outstanding balance, use your savings to pay them off. It will save you far more money than you could earn in interest on your savings.

For example, if you have £1,000 on a credit card with an interest rate of 21.66 per cent and you repay only £50 a month, it will take you until September 2024 to clear the debt. You will end up paying £222 in interest. 

The same amount in the best savings account would earn only £36 over the same period.

Overpay your mortgage

Many homeowners – those with variable rate mortgages – are about to be clobbered with mortgage repayments set to rise by thousands of pounds a year as interest rates soar. 

One way to mitigate this is by overpaying your mortgage.

‘Overpaying will mean a smaller mortgage to cope with, and it could also reduce the overall loan- to-value to help broaden your choice of deals when it comes to remortgaging,’ says David Hollingworth of broker L&C Mortgages.

For example, a £10,000 overpayment on a £200,000 mortgage with a three per cent interest rate and 20 years left on the term would save a homeowner £7,866 in interest over the life of the mortgage and clear the debt more than a year earlier.

Just check the details of your loan first – some lenders put a limit on how much you can overpay before you trigger an early repayment charge.

Offset savings against your mortgage

If you like the idea of overpaying, but are worried about committing cash savings when costs are climbing, an offset mortgage could be worth considering.

These have a tied savings account, and the balance of this account is deducted from what you owe on the mortgage when calculating loan interest. 

So, you pay less interest on your mortgage, but you can still access your savings.

If you put £10,000 into a savings account linked to a £200,000 offset mortgage with a 3.15 per cent interest rate, you would save £270 in interest over two years compared to if you have that money in the best savings account and a standard mortgage charging 3.15 per cent.

Buy solar panels

One long-term answer to soaring energy bills could be to use your savings to slash costs by installing solar panels.

Until last year, it took roughly 11 years to recoup the installation cost of solar panels. But the rising price of electricity means the savings solar panels offer has increased, too. 

Depending on bill predictions, you could recoup your installation costs in just over two-and-a-half years according to comparison website Uswitch.

The average installation cost is £6,500, according to the Energy Savings Trust. That same household could then expect to save some £2,043 on their annual energy bills, according to figures from Uswitch based on predicted energy prices next year.

Prepare for winter now

Another cheaper way to use your savings to alleviate rising energy bills is by improving your home’s energy efficiency.

About 30 per cent of British homes with cavity walls don’t have insulation in them, according to Government figures. 

It costs roughly £1,200 to install cavity wall insulation, but it could shave £285 a year off your energy bills.

Getting your home draught-proofed costs about £240. A professional will stop any draughts around windows, doors, skirting boards and flooring and could save you £95 a year on average, according to the Energy Savings Trust.

Invest in energy firms

How about exploiting the bumper profits that energy firms are making? Earlier this month BP announced profits of £6.9 billion in the first three months of the year, triple what the giant made in the same period last year.

‘It might be possible to cover some of the increase in your bills with dividend payouts on investments in energy and utility companies, but it is far from a fail-safe strategy,’ says Rebecca O’Connor, head of pensions and savings at wealth manager Interactive Investor.

BP shares currently provide investors with dividend income equivalent to 4.08 per cent a year. 

So a £10,000 investment could earn you £408 a year. Alternatively, shares in Eon have an equivalent dividend of 5.49 per cent, so a £10,000 investment could mean you receiving £549 over the next 12 months.

O’Connor cautions: ‘Putting all your investment eggs in one basket – a volatile basket, for that matter – leaves your capital at risk. You have to weigh up if the relatively stable dividends on offer would be worth the risk to your capital.’

Source: Read Full Article