Big Energy Saving Week is a national campaign starting on 20 January to highlight how people can cut their energy bills and access the financial support they are entitled to. Here are some hints and tips to help you through the winter months.
Get your home ready
- You should get your heating system serviced every year to ensure it is safe and running as efficiently as possible. If you are in a rented property your landlord should get any gas heating and/or appliances checked annually. Make sure you use a Gas-Safe registered engineer and ask to see their ID and note it down when they arrive.
- Use things like draught excluders and heavy curtains to keep the heat in and make sure doors and windows are sealed properly.
- Insulate the loft, lag the hot-water tank and pipes and consider getting cavity wall insulation. This will help keep the bills down and keep the house cooler in the summer months. If you are a pensioner or on a low income, you may be able to get financial help to get these things in place. For more information, you can call the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0800 444 202, or visit its website. Alternatively, you can speak to your energy provider or go to gov.uk for more information.
- It’s important to keep the property at a constant temperature with your living room at around 21°/70°F. You should keep your bedroom window shut at night during the winter as the coldest time of day is just before dawn, and should close your curtains at dusk to keep the heat in.
- If you have thermostats on each radiator you can turn the temperature down on any rooms you don’t use and shut the door. However, do still keep them on low to prevent any pipes from freezing.
The cost of heating can be a worry, so we recommend you check your current tariff to see if there is a better deal. Switching is usually straightforward and handled by the energy company not you. You can start by calling your current provider to see if there is a better tariff for you, and then use a price comparison website such as Energy Compare or Moneysupermarket.com to easily compare deals based on your usage.
Winter fuel payment
The Winter Fuel Payment can help with heating costs – a grant paying up to £300 for most people born before 5 November 1953. Payments are made between November and December each year and currently, the payment is £200 if you’re under 80 and £300 if you’re over 80. You’ll normally get less if you live with someone that also qualifies.
You’ll usually get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you receive the State Pension or another benefit such as Pension Credit. If you don’t get paid automatically but qualify, you’ll need to make a claim. You can call the helpline on 0800 731 0160 to make a claim or ask a question. You just need your National Insurance number and bank details to hand.
Other financial help
If the temperature is at 0°C or 32°F for seven days in a row, you’ll automatically receive a Cold Weather Payment if you receive Pension Credit or any other income-related benefits.
If you receive the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit or if you’re on a low income you may be entitled to a Warm Home Discount which is a discount on your energy bill usually made between October and April. If you have a prepayment electricity meter you can receive the discount as a voucher.
If you can’t pay your bill you can contact your energy supplier. Companies shouldn’t disconnect all-pensioner householders during the winter so if you are a pensioner, please don’t worry about this happening.
If you have worked in the insurance sector and are struggling financially then please get in touch.