Beat British Gas's price hike plus one month warning for £1 coins
Beat British Gas’s price hike, £1 coin warning, FREE peek in 1,900+ hidden property gems, let a firefighter wash your car and magazine freebie. These are our Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis’ Deals of the Week.
Remember, deals can change quickly, even while I’m on the programme. So always double-check the terms and conditions before spending. Plus, while I hope these deals will save you cash, don’t spend if you can’t afford it, don’t need it, or won’t use it.
British Gas standard tariff customers – your price is going UP tomorrow
From tomorrow (Friday 15 September), British Gas is increasing the price of its most common pricing option – its standard tariffs – by an average of over 7% (12.5% on electricity, nothing on gas) which means for a typical dual-fuel bill it’ll add around £76 a year. Those on British Gas fixes won’t see a rise until after your fix deal ends.
Yet it isn’t just the cost of the rise. For someone with typical use, from tomorrow you’ll be paying £1,120 a year – and British Gas isn’t alone – some other big 6 provider’s standard deals are even more. Yet the cheapest deals on the market are £830ish a year on the same usage.
Who your exact cheapest is depends on where you live and how much you use. The easiest way to find out is to put your usage and postcode intoMartin’s ‘Cheap Energy Club’ or any Ofgem approved comparison site. Yet be careful as comparison sites are now allowed to default to show only sites that pay them when they switch you (this doesn’t add to the price you pay) but it means they can hide the very cheapest tariffs (for the sake of transparency - the cheap energy club doesn’t do this). Sadly these comparison sites don’t work for Northern Ireland.
When you do a comparison the cheapest tariffs are almost all one year fixed deals from small new providers – which means there’s no customer service history – and can be a risk. So it’s worth scrolling down the list (or on energy club using the ‘top picks’ tariff) to find names you know with better customer service ratings. One to really watch for right now is Ovo’s two-year fix (for those paying by monthly direct debit) it allows you to lock in a price for two years rather than one, and at £896/year isn’t that much more – it could mean a £500 saving over the two years. Better still Ovo is consistently one of the top rated firms for service, 89% in my last poll (569 votes).
Yet go quick it’s said it is likely to pull this deal tomorrow. And remember switching is usually no big deal – there’s no break in service, no engineers calling at your home, it’s the same gas, electricity & safety. Only price and customer service changes.
Got a piggybank or coin-jar? You’ve One-month warning to use your £1 coins
Everyone with a piggybank or coin jar needs to turn them up upside down and shake out all your £1 coins now, because there’s only one month left to use them. After 15 October the current £1 coins will cease to be legal tender and shops will no longer accept it as payment as they were replaced with newer 12-sided £1 coins earlier this year.
If you find any in your pockets or down the back of the sofa after 15 October, while you can’t use them in shops many banks and building societies will let you deposit them into your account – though there’s no obligation for them to do so, so far easier is to take them out from now on and not put any more in the jar. If you find that upsetting (I understand, I’m obsessive too) then simply replace the £1 coins with other notes or coins to the same value – that way your savings pot won’t be used up.
Free peek in 1,900+ hidden property gems across the UK
Last week I mentioned thatmany usually-closed or usually-charging English (not in London) buildings were open for free as part of Heritage Open Days. Now this weekend in London 800+ venues are open, including the Gherkin (usually closed) though it usually has huge queues, Brunel Museum (usually £6 entry) and the Walthamstow Pumphouse museum (usually only open on Sunday). You may need to book in advance for some, and expect long queues for popular venues.
And until the end of September as part of The Scottish Civic Trust's Doors Open Days, a further 800+ in Scotland and 300+ in Wales (as part of the Welsh Government's historic environment service's (Cadw) Open Doors event) will be open to the public. In Scotland, examples of places to visit include Pollock House in Glasgow usually £6.50 and the Botanic Cottage in Edinburgh which usually costs £6.50. In Wales you could visit the Beaumaris Castle usually £6 and Denbigh Castle, usually £4. Opening dates and times vary for each venue, and you may need to book in advance for some – all the details are on the websites Open House London, Doors Open Days Scotland and Open Doors Wales.
Get a firefighter to use their big hose on your car
Just a heads up – this month firefighters in over 1,000 stations around the country are participating in a special charity led event where they’ll wash your car – some using sponges, but if you’re lucky some may get their big hoses out (I feel like Richard Arnold saying that!) – in return for a donation to The Fire Fighters Charity – it provides injured and ill UK firefighters with help, such as psychological therapy and physio to help them recover and return to work as quickly as possible. Check if your local station is doing it first – it’s mainly on Saturday, and if so just turn up. Be prepared to queue and obviously an emergency takes priority. Some fire stations may recommend a minimum donation of £5, which seems fair.
‘Free’ £11 Nails Inc polish in £4 mag
Buy the October edition of Marie Claire magazine (£3.99, Shailene Woodley on the front) by Wednesday 4 October, and on the cover you'll get a free full-size 10ml Nails Inc nail polish in one of 300 colours. The polish is worth around £11, so this could work out well for you if you’re after the polish, even if you don’t normally buy the mag.