Don't delay any more, look into switching your energy provider
IF someone said to you in a pub that they knew a failsafe way to save €300 on your bills every year, you would probably be all ears. Suppose the person went on to explain that it will take just minutes to effect a change to put in place this bumper saving.
You would probably take in the information, make a mental note to follow the advice and then head to the bar to buy the person a drink.
The strange thing is that this is not some fanciful story about two old codgers in the pub discussing get-rich-quick schemes.
Household budgets across the country can benefit from huge savings on their energy bills, yet the odd fact is that most people ignore these offers.
Time and again research has found that householders are denying themselves a chance to slice hundreds of euro off their electricity and gas bills by refusing to switch supplier.
And around half of those who have never switched have not even checked if they could make a saving by switching. That is nothing short of extraordinary.
Because what we are talking about here is an equivalent saving to the annual property tax bill for a standard home.
We are in the midst of an energy price war.
Electric Ireland is the latest to fire off a salvo in this war with an offer to give electricity customers €50 off their bill if they switch.
The offer means that Electric Ireland (which is the retail operation of ESB) is now the best value for the supply of electricity only. It comes soon after a price cut from Energia for those who take both gas and electricity from it.
That Energia move, in turn, was in response to a special electricity price from Bord Gais for the 50,000 people who signed up for the One Big Switch.
Electric Ireland is offering residential customers €50 off their bill if they switch to it. The company claims the savings amount to €200 off its standard electricity prices.
The offer is only available to new customers who join Electric Ireland. Householders have to apply online for the deal, and the €50 credit will be applied to consumers' bills within two months. The offer is open until the end of this month.
Recently, Bord Gais said it would offer the people who had signed up with One Big Switch a 10pc discount on the electricity supplies and €80 cash back if they stick with the semi-state for a year.
New entrant Energia then reacted with what it says is a 17pc discount on its standard tariffs for households that take both electricity and gas from it.
Check it all out. As the man in the pub might say, sure what have you got to lose.
Failed septic tanks may be entitled to remedial grants
Some people whose septic tank failed the first round of inspections, you may be entitled to a grant of up to €4,000 to repair or upgrade your tank. To be eligible for the maximum grant, your household income must be no more than €50,000. You will qualify for a grant of no more than 80 per cent of approved costs (up to the €4,000 limit).
If your household income is between €50,001 and €75,000, you will only be entitled to a maximum grant of €2,500 – or up to half of approved costs.
If your household income is more than €75,000, you won't be entitled to any grant.
You apply to your local authority – and you will need evidence of household income. Household income is calculated as your gross taxable income in the previous tax year, together with that of your spouse or partner. You must also provide receipts for the work carried out and the tax clearance certificate of the contractor who carried out the repair or upgrade.
You cannot get a grant for the cost of maintaining, servicing or desludging your tank.
You could avoid having to repair or upgrade your septic tank by getting it serviced and desludged at least once a year.
Only hire authorised waste contractors to remove the sludge – you can get a list of such contractors from your local authority. If you never have to empty your septic tank, it may be because it is leaking – if this is the case, it could be contaminating nearby water wells. Avoid running into problems with your tank include limiting your use of bleach and disinfectants and not pouring fat and grease down the sink.
- Louise McBride
Family savings on health insurance
If you're a young family who needs to chop your health insurance bill this year, you can get your kids half price under VHI's One Plan Family – as long as you sign up by the end of this month.
The offer will chop €268 a year off the €2,603 bill of a family of two adults and two children.
The offer is for children under the age of 18 – any children over that age will be charged the adult rate unless they are in full-time education and under 21 (you'll then pay the student rate). Aviva is also offering a slight discount on its child rates if you sign up to its Family Value plan by the end of this month. You'll be charged €199 per child under this offer – rather than the normal child rate of €255.70. This offer will save the same family €113.40 a year.
Although the savings on your children's insurance work out less with Aviva, the overall cost of cover for two adults and two children is slightly more expensive under VHI's One Plan Family plan than it is under Aviva's Family Value plan.
- Louise McBride
Sunday Indo Business