Research by the Halifax mortgage lender has revealed the soaring costs of household maintenance over the past four years.

A study by the lender found that despite an overall drop in the level of mortgage payments, homeowners were spending an average of £9,393 on their household outgoings in January, the highest figure since January 2008 and equivalent to a 2.7 per cent annual increase.

Energy bills were the biggest culprits, responsible for 89 per cent of the increase in household costs with an average £218 increase in gas and electricity bills. Over the same period, mortgage repayments fell by around £66 a month.

This fall in mortgage costs remains constant over the past four years, going from 48 per cent in January 2008 to just 37 per cent at the beginning of this year. In stark contrast, gas and electricity bills have risen by a staggering 145 per cent over the past decade, and now take up nearly 20 per cent of household outgoings, making up the second biggest cost after mortgages and overtaking the previous second place-holder, council tax.

High inflation has been bad for household costs, as the cost of living increases, and it remains to be seen if February’s 15-month low in the rate of inflation, which saw the consumer prices index (CPI) rate of inflation fall to 3.4 per cent, will help to improve matters.

Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis commented: “The prospect of declining consumer prices inflation through much of 2012 may help the costs associated with running a home to ease as well, providing some welcome relief to homeowners.”

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