This week is Big Energy Week which is a week where a range of different companies are coming together, from energy suppliers to Government agencies, to help all of those who are struggling to cope with the rising energy bills.
There is lots of help out there and it is definitely something worth looking into if you are finding it hard to keep up with the ever increasing energy bills. What advice do they have on offer? Well, there is all sorts of methods some will help you save money on your bills, some will pay you through tariffs, or it could just be a case of consolidating your debts, or switching companies.
How can you save money on your bills?
With 43 of people worried they can’t afford their next fuel bill, there are quite a few ways to save money on your bills, without having to use less energy than you need. One of the best methods to save money and potentially increase the value of your home, is by taking energy efficiency measures, such as loft and wall insulation or installing double glazed energy efficient windows. Insulation can save you an average of £120 a year and there hasn’t been a better time to buy it. Most suppliers are giving free or heavily discounted insulation; my Dad picked some up the other week for £1 a roll! Obviously the amount you save on your bills depends on the size and age of your home, and how you use your energy. By installing A-rated double glazed windows you could save up to £159 a year, which combined with your new insulation, you will have a few hundred extra pounds to put towards something nice.
Although, both of these methods potentially mean spending money to benefit in the long run, there are other lifestyle changes that can help too, like turning off all lights and appliances at the wall, or turning your thermostat down a degree can save you £60 off your average heating bill.
What tariffs are available to me?
Ensure that you are on the best tariff available to you with your energy company. Get in touch with your supplier to make sure that your payment method and your tariff is ideal for your energy usage, especially as bills are 21 higher than they were last winter. According to Citizens Advice, it works out £100 a year cheaper to pay by monthly direct debit than paying cash or cheque. Visiting an accredited switching website to compare tariffs and prices could also save you a lot of money; £200 on average if you shop around, particularly if you have never changed supplier.
Green energy tariffs are a great way to control the cost of bills, with most energy companies offering a green tariff of some kind. Although you will still be using the same gas and electricity, you may get a return on the electricity you supply back to the National Grid.
A law has been set out for all energy companies to supply 8 of energy from green sources such as solar, wind or tidal energy. Some tariffs will supply more than this, but charge you extra each month. Some may offer discounts for signing up with a green energy tariff and most will donate money to help future green projects.
You can earn money from different tariffs like the Feed-in-Tariff adjoined to the production of electricity through photovoltaic solar panels. It is currently 21p per kilowatt hour, and an average sized solar installation can generate up to £544 a year. If you put that against your average electricity bill, you will see the potential saving is justified, meaning you have to speculate to accumulate.
Can I get financial help?
Research by the Home Heat Helpline shows that one in ten UK homes are entitled to some form of assistance with their fuel bills, but a lot of people don’t know what help is available, which means they could be missing out on help that is worth an average of £250!
There are benefits and tax credits out there that entitle you to financial support, simply ask your local Citizens Advice Bureau or Age UK to see if you are entitled to an income boost. Winter Fuel Payment is one such benefit that you will automatically receive if you are aged 60 or over. If you are under 60 and on benefits you may be eligible to a Cold Weather Payment if the temperature drops below a minimum temperature for a set number of days. This again is automatically paid.
So, there are plenty of ways to get through these tough times of higher energy prices, we need to take the advice in hand and put it into good use. As the UK appears to be slipping back into recession, we are going to have to tighten our belt buckles again, and simple changes like some of the above will help you and your family live happily.