Consumers could save £650 on energy bills - campaign
Published on 22 October 2012 12:01 AM
A group of organisations - including Age UK, Citizens Advice, and the Government - are urging households across the country to save as much as £650 a year on their fuel bills during Big Energy Saving Week, 22-27 October by checking they are on best deal and cheapest way to pay, using less energy, and keeping the heat in through insulation.
New figures from Citizens Advice found that two thirds of people think their energy bill will be higher this winter - with many living in colder homes than they would like: 62% don't have the heating on as much, and 18% don't use some of the rooms in their home in a bid to cut the size of their energy bills.
Michelle Mitchell, Age UK Charity Director-General, commented: 'Every increase in energy bills puts more households in fuel poverty and a large percentage of these will be older households.
'Switching off the heating is not the right response - there is a lot of scientific evidence that shows that cold homes (where the living room is less than 21 degrees, and other rooms less than 18 degrees) can seriously endanger health, especially for older people.'
Checking tariffs, switching suppliers, and improving insulation can all lower energy bills
However, only a quarter of these people, had checked with their supplier to see if they were on the best deal and just 16% had changed to another energy company.
It's not just energy bills that people are worried about. Three out of five have tightened their belt this year to cope with rising daily costs.
But despite the squeeze on finances, only one in three households are using less electricity and just under a third have insulated their homes.
People who thought their bill would be lower than last winter had taken action to get a better deal - 30% had switched to another energy company and one in three had checked with their supplier to make sure they were on the best deal. Plus 38% had insulated their home and nearly half (46%) were using less electricity.
In the last 12 months, Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales helped clients with over 95,600 fuel debt problems.
Big Energy Savings Week
During Big Energy Saving Week advisers from local Age UKs, Citizens Advice Bureaux, and ACRE (Action for Communities in Rural England) will be out and about at supermarkets, town halls, libraries and even market stalls explaining how people can cut their energy bills by an average total of up to £650 a year.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK, commented: 'Age UK is supporting Big Energy Saving Week because older people are affected by energy price increases and by living in a cold home. It is crucial that everyone knows how to access the help and support they are entitled to this winter.
'Big Energy Saving Week is about just that - aiming to provide people with the help and support to check tariffs, switch suppliers and insulate homes.
'However there is also much more work for the Government, local government, and the energy companies to do. Fuel poverty and the associated issues are getting worse and this will remain the focus of Age UK's campaigning this winter.'
Citizens Advice, Chief Executive, Gillian Guy said: 'We're worried that some people are finding themselves unnecessarily hard-up because they're paying more than they have to for their fuel bill and aren't getting all of the help that's available to them. Through Big Energy Saving Week we're helping the nation prepare for winter and putting money back in people's pockets.'
Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said: 'Winter energy costs are a big worry for millions of families, and I want Big Energy Saving Week to get advice to as many people as possible on how to get those bills down.
'There is action you can take to make sure you are getting the best deal for your gas and electricity. There are ways to save money by insulating your home and cutting out energy waste, and there is help available from the Government for those struggling the most.'
Top tips to cut your energy bills:
- Check you are on the best deal with your current supplier and whether there is a better way you can pay your bills. Most suppliers offer a discount if you pay by direct debit, on average around £100, compared to paying your bill by cash or cheque.
- Make sure you are getting all the financial help you are eligible for. Up to £20 billion of benefits went unclaimed in 2011. Your supplier might be able to offer you a discount if you are on certain benefits too. Speak to your local Citizens Advice Bureau who can help.
- Switch to a better deal with a new supplier, particularly if you have never switched before. You could potentially save as much as £200 or more by shopping around. A list of accredited websites can be found at www.consumerfocus.org.uk/get-advice/energy/confidence-code
- If you use heating oil, consider joining or setting up a local oil buying club. You might be able to negotiate a discount with suppliers if you are buying in bulk. Also, buy early before winter and you might get it cheaper.
- Insulate the loft and cavity walls of your home is a great way to save money on your heating bills, up to £160 per year if you do both. Most major energy suppliers are also offering this free or at a reduced price. Act now before winter!
- You might also be able to get some help with improving the efficiency of your property from Government funded schemes if you are on a low income. There are different schemes for Scotland, England and Wales.
- There are also lots of small things you can do for free or at low cost around the home to save money on your energy bills saving, on average, up to £195 per year. You can find out more by calling the Energy Saving Trust on 0300 123 1234 or fill out an online home energy check at www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Insulation/Home-Energy-Check
For further information and advice from Age UK on reducing your energy bills call us on 0800 169 65 65 or visit www.ageuk.org.uk/energyweek
Big Energy Saving Week is funded by the largest six energy companies - British Gas, EDF Energy, EON, Npower, SSE and Scottish Power, and involves the Energy Saving Trust, Age UK, ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), Consumer Focus, the Government, Ofgem, Energy UK and National Energy Action.