Monday 22 January 2018
With the news that gas and electricity suppliers are putting up their prices (again!), here's our advice and tips to help you Check, Switch, Save and take control of your energy costs. After all, why pay more than you have to?
Recent research form uSwitch found that:
- Over two million working families were struggling to pay their energy bills going into last winter.
- Households face difficult decisions - over a quarter worry that they won't be able to feed their family (26%) if they turn the heating on.
- More than four in ten families (41%) plan to ration their energy use and risk going cold this winter in a bid to make bills more affordable.
- One in three working families (30%) aren't aware of initiatives such as the Warm Home Discount that are available to help with energy bills.
So whether you're worried about the rising cost of your energy bills or just don't want to pay more for essentials, like gas and electric than you need to, now's the time to check - switch - save...
Switching suppliers isn’t the only way to get a better deal. Most suppliers offer discounts for managing your account online or choosing a ‘dual fuel’ deal.
You should get personalised information on your bill about the cheapest tariff your supplier can offer you, and how much you can save. If your circumstances change in the meantime, call your supplier to discuss your options.
Use our price comparison tool to compare prices from different energy suppliers.
The way you pay your bill can also make a difference. For example, most suppliers offer a discount for paying your bill by direct debit. On average it is £100 cheaper per year to pay by monthly direct debit than paying by cash or cheque.
You may also get discounts for receiving bills online, as this cuts down on paper and reduces costs for the supplier, and is good for the environment.
Contact your supplier directly to find out if there is a better way for you to pay, and that might save you money.
Making sure you are receiving all help you are entitled to will make paying for fuel bills and other household expenses easier.
Did you know that up to £17bn in benefits and tax credits went unclaimed in the UK in 2013? That's enough to pay the fuel bills of nearly 13.5 million homes!
If you are struggling to pay your energy bills, or simply want to make sure that you are getting all the financial help you are entitled to, your local Citizens Advice can help you to check that you are not missing out on any benefits or tax credits that could boost your income.
If you've reached state pension age you may get a Winter Fuel Payment to help with winter heating costs. This will be paid in the same way your benefit or pension is paid. If you’ve not received a Winter Fuel Payment before, phone the Winter Fuel Payments helpline on 0345 915 1515 to apply.
Some people who receive benefits can also get a Cold Weather Payment of £25 if the temperature drops below freezing in their local area for seven days in a row. You don't need to apply – if you are eligible it will be paid automatically in the same way you receive your benefits.
The Warm Home Discount scheme is a Government scheme, whereby energy suppliers provide rebates to households on certain benefits. The rebate is £140 for 2016/17 and you should contact your electricity supplier directly to see if you qualify.
Switch...Switch suppliers or tariffs
Many people stay on the same tariff or with the same energy supplier for years, without realising they could be getting a better deal elsewhere. By switching tariffs or suppliers, or joining an oil club, you could save hundreds on your fuel bill. Take control of your energy costs - why pay more than you have to?
Make sure you can enjoy a comfortable, healthy home without the anxiety of ever-rising costs, If you’ve never switched before, it is well worth having a look around to see what’s on offer.
If you don't have internet access you can phone the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506. They will send you a factsheet with the deals available in your area.
To make sure you get the best deal, you’ll need to know:
- the name of your current supplier
- the name of your current tariff, usually found on your bill
- the amount of energy you use
- how you currently pay, and would like to pay with a new supplier
- your postcode.
If you’re on a fixed term tariff, you now get 42-49 days before the end of the tariff to decide if you want to stay with your supplier or switch. Your supplier will tell you the rates you will move onto if you remain with them and do not agree a new contract. If you choose to switch supplier in this period you will not have to pay termination fees.
Some suppliers have also signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee, which commits them to provide a reliable and hassle-free switch.
You can more information about switching on the Citizens Advice website.
The best way to pay less for your fuel is simply to save energy around your home.
This doesn’t mean doing without - you can waste less by being energy efficient. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that the average home in the UK could save up to £130 per year - and avoid emitting 500kg of carbon dioxide - simply by taking energy saving steps.
Are you worried about how much money you’re spending to heat and light your home? Do you want to spend less? There are some simple steps you can take to save money and energy by changing the way you use appliances or making your home more energy efficient.
Ten top tips for saving energy
- If you have a timer on your central heating system, set the heating and hot water to come on only when required: 30 minutes before you get up in the morning and set it to switch off 30 minutes before you are due to leave.
- If you have a hot water tank, set the cylinder thermostat to either 60 degrees Celsius or 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Cylinder thermostats are usually fitted between a quarter and a third of the way up the hot water cylinder.
- Close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows and check for draughts around windows and doors.
- Always turn off the light when you leave a room.
- Don’t leave appliances on standby and remember not to leave laptops and mobile phones on charge unnecessarily.
- When you are doing the washing try to fill up the machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher. One full load uses less energy than two half loads.
- Try and ensure that you only boil as much water as you need.
- A dripping hot water tap can waste enough energy in a single week to fill half a bath. Fix leaking taps and make sure they are fully turned off.
- Dry your clothes outside during nice weather so you don’t need to use your tumble drier.
- Do a home energy check to find out about savings of up to £130 a year on household energy bills. Visit the Energy Savings Trust home energy check at https://hec.est.org.uk. Use this check to get a full report with details of your home’s energy use and the savings you could make.
For more ideas, visit the Energy Saving Trust website.
More information and advice to help you stay warm
Download our Energy Best Deal Booklet
This is a handy guide to help you get the best deal from your energy supplier. It also highlights the help that is available from both energy suppliers and government if you are struggling to pay your energy bills.
Getting financial help
If you’re struggling to afford your gas and electricity bills, contact your supplier to discuss ways to pay what you owe them.If you’re struggling to afford your gas and electricity bills, contact your supplier to discuss ways to pay what you owe them.
Your supplier has to help you come to a solution. You should try to negotiate a deal that works for both of you.
If you don’t try to negotiate with your supplier, they might threaten to disconnect your supply.
Please see our factsheets for further help:
To get advice from us by phone call 03444 111 444 or get advice in person from your local Citizens Advice - view our opening times and details of where to find us.