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Sunday, 27 November 2011
Facts, decisions and research - don't just restrict good practices to the office!
Let me give you one example. Going to the uSwitch website and changing your gas and electricity supplier or suppliers if they are separate. But bear in mind that this is the sort of exercise you need to handle for many other items.
Do you know how much a mile your car uses? Including depreciation, loss of trade in price, cost of servicing, insurance all spread through out the year, average amount of miles done each year? Do you know how to tell when your car is "sick"? Easy to tell if you record mileage and amount of petrol every time you fill up. If your using much more petrol per mile and you have kept to the same style of driving, your car is "sick" and needs servicing.
However, before we continue further, I stress that this is just one area where research before action is necessary in the family home. Just out of curiosity, how many of you have a sit down meeting at home with the family each month? Pam and I did this for thirty years and this is why, although not that well off by politicians standards, we have never been poor.And even if things aren't going too well, spouses get on better for the sharing of information - children help more if they can really see times are tough.
If you go straight to uSwitch and change, you have no real way of knowing whether you have chosen the best supplier. However, if you gather research so you have some facts at hand you may well make a more accurate decision.
You will need to take gass and electricity readings from your meter on the same day each month – preferably the last day of the month. If you have a single bill which covers your gas and electricity, you will need to research the company and how much their charges are for gas and for electricity, and estimate in your spreadsheet (or on the back of an envelope) an approximate amount for each commodity. You also need to add whether the weather was typical for that time in the year, warmer or colder.
When you have got a year's supply for this, you need to go to uSwitch, pick the best three companies, and research what experiences the public have had with each of them as it may be short-sighted to pick the lowest price.
The facts are that you have a very good idea of the number of units your household uses in a 12 month period, for each of the four seasons, and for the year in total.
After knowing what you have spent in the last twelve months, whether it is high or low for typical weather, you can now enter reliable figues into the fields on the uSwitch website and rest easy that it will come up with the right companies based on accurate figures.
Also, after having a fair idea of how the comany treats its customers, you can feel confident that the one chosen out of the three lowest prices will be a good partner over the coming six months.
But you need to continue to collect the figures and check every six months as things change extremely fast in that industry.