Rising energy bills cause real harm to people in the constituency, which is why I am making sure that my constituents are aware of all the ways in which they can save on their energy bills. The following is a list of practical tips, government schemes and contact details for free advisory services which I hope will be of help to you.
- Switching to the most competitive tariff for your requirements is the best and quickest way to making savings on your energy bill. Check https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/information-consumers/domestic-consumers/switching-your-energy-supplier/confidence-code for a reliable guide to the process, as well as a list of trusted price comparison sites.
- Joining a collective purchasing scheme can be a great way of saving money on fuel bills, especially if you are off-grid. Cheaper Energy Together is a national scheme to achieve the lowest possible price for consumers, saving an average of £167 on fuel bills; see https://www.cheaperenergytogether.org/ or call 0800 781 5937 for more information. To join the Devon Oil Collective and save on heating oil deliveries see http://www.devonrcc.org.uk/c/63/the-devon-oil-collective or call 01392 248919 for more details.
- You can also ask to be placed on the Priority Services Register which obliges your energy supplier to provide certain free services to people who are; of pensionable age; have a disability; have long term ill health; are blind or visually impaired. This does not necessarily mean money off bills but it can be very helpful to those in need of extra help. For more information click on this link
- Winter Fuel Payment - if you have reached the qualifying age you may get help with your fuel bills this winter. £200 is available to eligible households where the oldest person is under 80, rising to £300 if the oldest person is over 80. Eligibility is based on the oldest person's age on 22nd September 2013; therefore to be eligible this winter, the oldest person must have been born on or before 5th January 1952. See https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment for more details.
- Cold Weather Payments – if you are a recipient of certain types of benefits you are entitled to one-off payments of £25 which are triggered by very cold weather (defined as forecast or actual temperatures below 0C for 7 consecutive days). These will be paid automatically in line with other benefit payments, with further information available at https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment.
- Warm Home Discount – this is a discount of £135, aimed at low income pensioner households. You qualify for the discount if on the 'qualifying day' (20 July 2013) your supplier was part of the scheme, your name (or your partner's) was on the bill and you were either: 75 or over and getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (even if you get Savings Credit) or under 75 and only getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (you won't qualify if you also get Savings Credit). However if you are not eligible under these criteria it is still worth contacting your supplier as thresholds can vary. For more information see https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme/overview.
- Green Deal – this is a 'pay as you save' loan whereby energy efficiency or micro generation measures are repaid through energy bills. This loan is linked to the property until the debt has been repaid. This way, those who could otherwise not afford these measures are able to get help and make repayments affordably. Further support is available through the Energy Company Obligation scheme which allows people in hard to treat homes, in deprived areas and on low incomes to participate in the Green Deal, even when improvements may not pay for themselves within the allotted time. For more information see https://www.gov.uk/green-deal-energy-saving-measures or http://www.affordablewarmthgrants.co.uk/affordable-warmth.htm.
- Feed in Tariffs – these subsidies promote small scale (less than 5MW) generation of low carbon electricity by guaranteeing payment of a set price for all energy created, variable depending on whether the electricity is used domestically or exported onto the National grid. See https://www.gov.uk/feed-in-tariffs for more details.
- The government has a useful tool where you can enter your details and be given a list of all available assistance, as well as how to obtain it. Please see https://www.gov.uk/energy-grants-calculator for more details.
- The Home Heat Helpline is an industry-run helpline which aims to help customers who are struggling with their bills. Call free on 0800 33 66 99, Monday to Friday 9am-6pm.
- The Energy Saving Advice Service is an advice service which signposts callers to a wide range of organisations that can help install energy-saving measures in their homes and reduce their fuel bills. It is also supporting the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) as these schemes develop. Call 0300 123 1234 Monday to Friday 9am-8pm (10am-2pm on Saturdays). The advice provided is free, but calls are charged at the standard national rates.
- For those who have run up debts as a results of their energy bills (or any other cause), My Money Steps is an online debt service run by National Debtline which provides free, independent and confidential advice 24/7 at https://www.mymoneysteps.org and on 0808 808 4000.