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Our articles offer tips on financial planning for retirement, including a guide comparing the cost of care homes with independent living and assisted living.

Top tips for cutting property costs

The cost-of-living crisis has made household budgets stretch further than before, but it’s worth remembering that there are still ways to make money go further.

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Financial advice
Posted 18 August 2022
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Cost of Living Crisis: Top tips for cutting property costs

  • Experts share energy-saving alternatives that can help save on bills
  • Switching to cheaper policies and packages can save hundreds
  • Access government support funds

The cost-of-living crisis has made household budgets stretch further than before, but it’s worth remembering that there are still ways to make money go further.

With house prices in the UK rising at their fastest rate since 2004 and average property costs reaching £283,000, many planning their next move are finding it increasingly tricky, while inflation and rising energy costs are causing problems for the UK’s residents who aren’t on the move.

These issues have left those at all stages of the property journey facing tough questions, whether they are looking to save to make their next property decision or are trying to keep costs down in their current home.

As people feel the crunch, searches for How to Save Money on Bills increased by a shocking 660% between December 2021 and April 2022, whilst searches for Energy-Saving Tips in particular saw a 660% rise. 

Property experts and retirement home developers McCarthy Stone share their expert tips when feeling the squeeze.

Save by investing in energy-saving alternatives

Renewable energy is good for the environment, and it can also be a cost-efficient choice, but up until now they have come with a less than encouraging 5 per cent VAT charge.

But the government’s spring statement revealed that - for the next five years - there will be zero per cent VAT to pay for homeowners investing in energy saving materials such as solar panels, heat pumps or insulation. Since April 2022, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme has also offered a grant of up to £5,000 to install an air source heat pump in homes in England and Wales.

A heat pump is a device that transfers thermal energy between spaces, usually between an enclosed space and the outdoors. When used to heat a building, the energy is transferred from the outside into the building. This works to save energy and money in two ways: by reducing your heating requirement and increasing the efficiency of your heat pump’s output.

Consider alternate property choices

If getting on the property ladder feels like an impossible task, considering a Shared Ownership property could be a good arrangement to consider.

As the name suggests, Shared Ownership options typically see you purchase a share - between 25 per cent and 75 per cent - of the home’s market value. You then pay rent to your landlord for the share you do not own.

Many see this as a more cost-effective way of owning a new home, and it allows you to buy larger percentages in the property, known as staircasing, at a time that suits you.

Switch to cheaper policies and packages

Whilst costs such as mortgage payments, monthly rent and council tax are fixed, insurance policies can be found at more affordable costs when you shop around.

For your home and car, make sure that you have compared costs from the wider market before auto-renewing with the same provider.

The same can be said about your broadband and TV packages, as many people are on older contracts still paying full price. Switching is quick and easy and could save hundreds of pounds over the course of the year. Those on a lower income or, claiming universal credit, could also qualify for ‘social tariffs’ to pay less.

Make your home work for you

If you are considering a property move, downsizing from a large period family home into an energy-efficient one or two-bedroom apartment can mean substantial cost savings. These include lower energy bills and cheaper maintenance and running costs.

According to research by McCarthy Stone, supported by the Home Builders Federation, the typical net saving of running an apartment when compared to a three-bedroom house is an impressive £1,200 per year. This is because you’ll likely benefit from cheaper heating, water and other utility bills, including Council Tax.

New builds are also a more energy efficient choice, saving up to £435 in bills a year. Typically, newer properties will be built with heavily insulated walls, contemporary double-glazed windows which maximise light and keep out the cold, and smarter electrical fittings.

Watch out for vampire appliances

Leaving appliances switched on around the house can silently increase monthly household bills. One of the worst culprits is the TV, and accompanying games consoles, both of which tend to be left in standby mode which drains electricity by the day.

Leaving chargers plugged on or laptops permanently on charge is another money drainer, whilst kitchen appliances like microwaves and kettles should also be switched off when not in use to avoid hefty expenses accumulating.

Access extra housing support

The cost-of-living squeeze is affecting us all, but some may feel the burden heavier than others and should not have to feel helpless to their financial concerns.

There are some measures of support in place already, and in the latest statement, 8 million of the lowest income households have been promised a one-off cost-of-living payment of £650.

In the spring statement, it was announced that the government’s Household Support fund would be doubled to help the most vulnerable households with rising costs.

According to Age UK, every year £2.2 billion in Pension Credit and Housing Benefit goes unclaimed by older people, meaning nearly a million pensioner households are missing out.

Aleks Clayton, Entitlements Advisor who offers free advice at McCarthy Stone, said: ‘Attendance Allowance is paid by the Department for Work and Pensions to people of state pension age or above who have a long-term health condition which impacts on their daily lives.’

She added, ‘It is not means tested – income and savings are disregarded. It is currently paid at two rates – either £61.85 or £92.40per week and is not taxable.’ 

There are a host of other benefits available to homeowners, particularly those of pension age, so it is worth checking your eligibility. Benefits include:

  • Household Support Fund
  • Attendance Allowance 
  • Pension Credit 
  • Council Tax Reduction 
  • Council Tax Disregard/Discount/Exemption 
  • Housing Benefit 

Benefits vary and differ by council so those who apply will be assessed by their financial ability to meet basic needs.

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