Medway Citizens Advice

Advice for Medway

Citizens Advice Medway is a registered charity that offers free, independent and impartial advice to the whole of Medway on a range of issues including Housing, Welfare Benefits, Employment, Debt, Family Law and many others.

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Big Energy Saving Week

27th January 2014

Big Energy Saving Week

January 2014 marked the third Big Energy Saving Week; a national campaign run by Citizens Advice to help people cut their fuel bills and get all the financial support they are entitled to.

Big Energy Saving Week ran from 27th-31th January 2014 with the aim of helping consumers take practical steps to make cuts to their bills by checking that they are on the best deal, switching tariff or supplier and taking up help to insulate their homes and reduce their energy usage. It focused on raising awareness of energy and efficiency issues among the general public through joint working between the voluntary sector and energy suppliers. The week has taken place twice previously, with leadership from Citizens Advice and involvement from energy suppliers, Government and other charitable partners.

This year, the national campaign was BIG – involving as many CABs as possible to spread the message far and wide. Messages focus on ENERGY – how to make sure consumers are getting the best deal and understand how to get support with their energy costs – and ways of SAVING energy to keep bills down.

We would like thank all those consumers who told us of their experiences and passed on their own energy saving tips a selection of which are listed below.

  • Embrace natural light
  • Fit radiators with individual thermostats
  • Put silver foil behind radiators to reflect heat
  • Lower thermostats in rooms not in regular use
  • Lower thermostat by 1% to save up to £60 a year
  • Switch offappliances such as TV’s when not in use
  • Switch of lightswhen leaving a room
  • Using an egg timer when showering
  • Washing—Do full loads
  • Put on extra clothing / blankets
  • Check your meter reading / tariff
  • Fill the kettle with the amount of water needed
  • Use an “Intelliplug”
  • Use energy saving light bulbs
  • Exclude drafts
  • Insulate walls / roof
  • Shower with a friend
  • Wear a onesie

ENERGY FACTS

New figures show that almost of half (48 per cent) of the people in the South East are worried about the effect that rising household bills will have on their finances over the next year and 44 per cent will have to cut their spending to cope. The Big Energy Saving Week campaign will help people avoid making other cutbacks.

Of those who plan on cutting their spending:

  • 57 per cent said they will have to reduce the amount they spend on food
  • 39 per cent will look for ways to reduce their energy bills
  • 10 per cent of people said that they will consider moving to a cheaper home
  • 68 per cent of people say they will have less time to spend on time out with family and friends
  • Sixteen per cent of South East households are in a constant struggle with their energy bills. A further 27 per cent of people said they were keeping up with costs, but it was a struggle from time to time.

Of those concerned about paying their fuel bill:

  • 53 per cent have cut down the amount of energy they use
  • 33 per cent have spent less on food
  • 29 per cent has sacrificed leisure activities or spending time with family and friends
  • 13 per cent have gone into their overdraft to pay their energy bills

In 2013, 200,000 people got online advice about energy bills from Citizens Advice. Between October 2012 and September 2013, Citizens Advice Bureaux in the South East dealt with 8,864 fuel debt problems.

A survey for Big Energy Saving Week highlights that 1 in 5 in the South East had spoken to their energy supplier to check that they were getting the best deal for them, 17 per cent had insulated their homes and as few as 10 per cent had switched to a cheaper way to pay.

The survey also found that people in the South East are trying to cut their energy costs by turning down the heating (46 per cent of people) or using less electricity (46 per cent of people). Twelve per cent are using fewer rooms in their home.

Around a million people switched supplier in November and December, 230,000 of which moved to a smaller independent supplier. This goes to show that if customers aren’t happy with the deal they are getting, it’s easy to shop around and find one that suits better.

Big Energy Saving Week is an example of working together to help consumers make the most of their energy use, take control of their bills and access all the help available to them if times get tough.

To help people take control of their bills Citizens Advice has released ten top tips to help you check, switch and insulate.

  1. Check your bills carefully and read your meter regularly. This will allow you to check how much energy you use and make sure you’re paying the right amount.
  2. Talk to your supplier if you think your bill is wrong or if you have problems paying. They’ll be able to give you advice about available support or talk you through repayment options.
  3. If money is tight, contact your local CAB. They can check to see if you are getting the benefits you are entitled to, or if you can get help paying your bills.
  4. Make sure that you’re on the cheapest tariff. Check with your supplier and use an accredited switching website to see who’s offering the best deal. Tariffs are changing in 2014 so it is important that you are aware of your current deal and any changes your supplier is planning.
  5. Most energy suppliers offer fixed price tariffs, where the price of a unit of energy will stay the same for the length of the deal. These can work out cheaper in the long term and make it easier to budget – although you might need to pay by direct debit and your bills will still go up if you use more energy.
  6. If you use a pre-payment meter, remember that standing charges will be added daily - even when you aren’t using energy. Check how much they are and keep your meter topped up even during warm weather to avoid unexpected charges
  7. If you use heating oil as your main fuel, buy before winter and see if there are any local oil buying clubs you can join. If not, you might want to start your own.
  8. Make your home energy efficient – insulate lofts and walls, double glaze or use thick curtains to keep the heat in, and get your boiler serviced or replaced to ensure it is energy efficient. There are schemes to help with this.
  9. Save money and energy – don’t leave appliances on standby or leave laptops and mobile phones on charge unnecessarily. Fix leaking taps and always turn off the light when you leave a room.
  10. Do a home energy check to find out about savings of up to £250 a year on household energy bills. Visit the Energy Saving Trust home energy check at 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.

Consumers can also help themselves by making sure they are energy savvy and making the best use of the energy they use. There are many ways to cut your energy use from fitting new boilers, double glazing or improving your insulation and to smaller things like closing the curtains when it gets dark and not leaving the telly or other electrical appliances on standby. If in any doubt call the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99 – trained and independent advisors can offer advice and information. Consumers can also get help and advice online at www.bigenergysavingweek.org.uk,

Medway Citizens Advice

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Telephone: 01634 383760
Fax: 01634 383767
info@medwayadvice.org.uk

3rd Floor Kingsley House
37-39 Balmoral Road
Gillingham
Kent
ME7 4PF