Q: My energy supplier recently went under and the new tariff I’ve been put on is far more than I used to pay. I’ve heard energy prices are set to rise further and I’m just not sure I can afford it. What help can I get or small changes can I make around my house to help save some money this winter?
A: The cost of energy is very high at the moment and it's causing many people to worry. Normally we would suggest switching to a better deal, but the situation is very difficult at the moment and there aren’t a lot of good deals out there. However, there are still other small ways you can keep your bills down.
Little everyday things can help, such as making sure televisions and other electronic devices are switched off and not left on standby; washing clothes on a lower temperature; and only filling the kettle with the water you need.
Turning down your main thermostat by 1 degree can save you around £60 on your energy bill. And by spending one minute less in the shower each day, a family of four could save £75 a year on energy and water bills. The Government’s Simple Energy Advice website has more tips like this.
You’re right in another way about bills going through the roof - and the walls. One way of cutting costs in the long-run is to invest in good insulation if you can afford to. If you’re renting, ask your landlord to do this.
You may be able to get financial support to help insulate your home under the Energy Company Obligation scheme. Contact your energy supplier for more information. If you’re in a household that’s not connected to the gas grid you may also be able to receive help under the Home Upgrade Grant scheme through your local authority.
There’s some financial support available for paying your energy bills, depending on your situation. For example, if you’re a pensioner with a low income or receive Universal Credit orother means-tested benefits, you may be entitled to the Warm Home Discount. This gives you £140 a year to go towards your bills. Check the Government website to find out if you can claim it.
The Government recently announced a £500m fund to support households this winter so keep a look out for announcements about how this could help you. In England, it will be distributed by Local Authorities. In Wales, it will be decided by the Government.
Remember you can always call our consumer helpline on 0808 2231133 for free advice about your energy costs and staying warm this winter.