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Keeping warm and well

There are 2.3 million households in England who cannot afford to heat their homes properly. In half of these households (around 1.1 million) someone in the family is in work.

Most people assume that it is older people who are most at risk of not being able to heat their homes. But in fact there are over one million working households struggling to manage their energy. Not heating your home properly can severely affect your health.

Making your home more energy efficient is one way to tackle the problem. Here are some top tips to help you make savings:

  1. Only turn lights on when you need them. Make sure you switch off lights and other electrical appliances when they aren’t being used
  2. Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need (make sure you cover the element if you use an electric kettle). When cooking,  pop lids on pans to keep the heat in and cook food quicker
  3. If you use a dishwasher don’t put it on until it’s full and always use the eco setting
  4. Dry washing outside on the line wherever possible, rather than using the tumble dryer. Your clothes will feel fresh and you will save money too
  5. Don’t leave televisions, computers, Sky boxes, etc. on standby – always turn them off

Keep on top of your bills by giving your supplier meter readings on a monthly basis so you don’t get estimated bills. Sometimes estimated bills can mean you’re paying for more fuel than you are using.

Contact your supplier to find out if you are on their cheapest tariff. Energy companies must tell their customers if they offer cheaper rates and outline the potential savings. This means that if you are on a standard tariff, but could save by switching to the firm's online deal, it will tell you on your bill.

If you want to change supplier, either phone around for the best deals or use a price comparison website that has been approved by the regulator OFGEM.

(Remember if you have a Pre-Payment Meter (PPM) you can change your supplier even if you have arrears of up to £500.)

If you owe your fuel supplier money and want to make an offer of payment to them, always make sure  the amount you offer is what you can afford to pay, regardless of how small it may be. Energy companies cannot make you pay more than you can afford. 

Priority Service Register (PSR)

If you are of pensionable age, disabled or chronically sick you could ask your supplier to add you to their Priority Service Register (PSR). Free services available to Priority Service Register customers include:

  • Being given advance notice of any planned power cuts if you depend on your energy supply for medical reasons
  • Priority in an emergency (this could include providing alternative heating and cooking facilities if your energy supply is disconnected)
  • A password protection scheme to reassure you that callers, for example meter readers, are genuine
  • A bill nominee scheme – you can ask your supplier to send your bill to someone (for example a family member or carer) who has agreed to get it
  • Prepayment meters – if a you are unable to reach your prepayment meter you could have it moved
  • Quarterly meter reading services (if you are not able to read the meter)
  • Accessible information – suppliers can provide account and bill information in an accessible format, e.g. with larger print or braille
  • Annual gas appliance safety checks for homeowners. (If you do not own your own home your landlord is responsible for ensuring that any gas appliances, fittings and flues are safe.)