Help with winter fuel bills:
Ofgem’s – the energy regulator’s recent decision to lift the energy price cap, which will see it increase by £96 for default tariff customers, and by £87 for pre-payment meter customers, is a heavy blow to a lot of households. Our national association’s research showed that in December 2.1 million households were behind in their energy bills, 600,000 more than in February 2020.
The BBC’s Money Box programme estimated that this decision is likely to increase the average household’s fuel bills by something like 9%.
Here are some things you might be able to do to help reduce the impact of these changes, which are likely to mean an increase in future fuel bills.
Review and change your supplier:
The Money Super Market website quotes the figure that 23% of households have never changed their energy supplier. This is likely to be the best way to reduce your current energy costs. It’s a fairly simple process. You can find out who is giving the best deals from the weekend newspapers’ money sections. The National Association of Citizens Advice also publishes a table of customer performance for energy providers. Remember it is likely to be cheaper if you get both electricity and gas from the same supplier – a dual fuel deal. Going paperless may also reduce your costs. If you are on a pre-payment meter you may find that having a normal meter, and therefore more choice of fuel provider, will reduce your costs. Social Housing Landlords across Salford have signed up to a pre-payment meter charter, meaning it should be easy to have them removed.
It can be difficult to keep track of when you need to review your supplier – perhaps put a reminder in your phone?
Some tariffs are lower during off peak hours and running appliances off peak might reduce costs.
Reducing energy Costs:
This winter has been one of the coldest in recent years – and it is hard to make big cash savings through energy savings, but there are things that many of us can do which reduce the amount of energy we use. A good place to get lots of energy saving advice from is the www.energysavingtrust.org.uk. As well as advice about saving energy you can find out about help to insulate your home, including the Green Homes Grant Scheme.
The Warm Homes Discount Scheme:
The Warm Homes Discount can reduce your overall bills by £140 a year. You can read our earlier article about this scheme below.
Not every energy supplier is obliged to participate in this scheme, so bear this in mind when you are thinking about switching your supplier.
Cold Weather Payments:
Most of Salford has already had one official cold weather period this year – when the DWP pays an extra £25 for the particular qualifying period. The scheme runs between 1 November and March 31 each year, and the weather must be zero degrees or less for seven consecutive days. You need to be on a qualifying benefit. It should be automatic. To check the list, and to see if your local area is eligible go to www.gov.uk – and search for ‘cold weather’. If you do not receive your cold weather period tell your pension centre or jobcentre plus that you think you are due one and have not received it. If you’re getting Universal Credit, sign into your account and add a note to your journal.
Winter Fuel Payment:
If you were born on or before 5 October 1954 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a Winter Fuel Payment. You qualify if you receive the state pension, or certain other social security benefits. Again, get more information from the gov.uk website.
In cold weather periods perhaps just keep an eye out for your older or less mobile relatives or neighbours?
For more advice about meeting the costs of fuel or if you are having any money worries call us on 0808 27 87 802.