Christmas bonus for consumers as household bills by £180 in 2015
Consumers have received some pre-Christmas cheer with figures suggesting that household bills have fallen by more than £180 this year.
The cut has been driven by lower energy and home insurance costs, leading to an 8.5% drop - or £186 - over the course of the year, comparethemarket.com has calculated.
Low wholesale energy costs resulted in the average bill falling by 14.8% - equating to a £244.91 average saving for consumers, it found.
However car insurance bucked the trend, with costs increasing by almost 9% on average, equating to an extra £50 compared with 2014.
Overall though, average annual household bills for energy, home and car insurance totalled £2,019 this year, down from last year's average of £2,205.
East Anglians were the biggest beneficiaries of the reductions, seeing an average year-on-year drop of £246, followed by the South West with £231.
The North East saw the smallest reduction of £109 after household energy costs in the region dropped by £156 - £68 less than the average fall.
Simon McCulloch, director of insurance at comparethemarket.com, said: "This revelation will be a welcome Christmas surprise for many consumers who have faced a steady stream of bill increases for the past few years.
"This fall in household bills, coupled with low inflation and lower petrol costs, may mean that there may be a few more presents under the tree this year."
The reprieve is set to be short-lived though, after a tax increase hiked the price of new insurance premiums from November.
Motorists, home owners and pet owners are among those who are expected to see the cost of their premiums rise.
An increase in the standard rate of Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) from 6% to 9.5% from November 1 could mean that a family with two cars, a pet and medical insurance could see their insurance costs surge by around £100 a year, the Association of British Insurers has predicted.
Mr McCulloch said the outlook was "not all rosy", adding: "With the rise in insurance premium tax coming into effect at the start of November, it seems that the ongoing rise is not going away anytime soon."