Worried about the heating bill? Andy from The Speakeasy in Cardiff shares some tips on keeping the house warm this winter…
Winter is now officially here. The Christmas lights and carols in shops are there to lift our spirits around town. Yet it can be harder to be cheery when you’re at home and finding it hard to get warm. With that in mind, here are 7 top tips to help bring down the cost of your heating this winter. These are guaranteed to make it easier to stay warm.
1. Free insulation for your house!
No matter how much you put the heating on, if your house isn’t insulated, that heat is just going to leak out. If you are on a low income (especially if you are claiming means tested benefits), you may be able to get free loft or cavity wall insulation.
Ask your energy supplier if you qualify for their ECO scheme. If that fails, the Welsh Government has a great scheme called NEST. NEST will do what it takes to bring your house up to energy efficiency C or D, if it is currently E, F or G. Call NEST on 0808 8082244.
2. You could get a £140 discount
Energy suppliers used to have cheaper tariffs for people on a low income. Now, medium to large suppliers have to offer the Warm Home Discount. This discount gives you £140 off your winter electric bill! If you pay by prepay, then it will go onto your meter as credit.
Each supplier has different criteria, but if you’re claiming a means tested benefit, call your electricity supplier to see if you qualify.
3. Get rid of fuel debt
It can be really hard to manage if you have gas or electricity debts that you are paying back as well as paying for the energy you use (especially if you have a prepay meter!). Thankfully, a few of the energy suppliers have charitable funds to help clear fuel debt if you’re struggling to make ends meet.
We at The Speakeasy are experts at dealing with fuel debt. We help people in fuel debt on low incomes to get a completely fresh start. Over the past five years we have cleared over £250,000 of debt for people all across Wales. Give us a call on 02921 660789 for more information.
4. Energy saving tips
It’s a simple idea: save energy, save money! But usually we don’t know where to start. There are a few organisations that give free advice and tips to help you use less energy. The easiest thing to do is search online for easy, free things you can do to lower your bills.
5. Don’t heat an empty house
It’s hard enough to keep your house warm when you’re there, so make sure you aren’t spending money on heating when the house is empty. Most central heating controls will let you set the heating and hot water to come on at certain times of the day. If you set the heating to come on 20 minutes before you normally get up or get home after work, then it will be warm when you need it and not before.
Another thing is to set the heating to switch off 30 minutes before you normally leave for work. This works as your house will probably still be warm while you are there, but you aren’t paying to keep it warm after you’ve gone. If you’ve got a hot water tank, set it to come on for an hour in the morning before you have your showers and an hour in the afternoon so you have hot water for the evening. It doesn’t need to be on all day!
6. Go smart
By 2020 every house in the UK is going to be offered a smart meter at no extra cost. A smart meter will let you see how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence as you use it. This can make it much easier to find ways to use less and save more. Smart meters also send meter readings directly to your energy supplier so that you always get accurate bills.
Give your energy supplier a call to say that you’re interested in getting a smart meter now.
7. Switch supplier/tariff
This is the quickest and easiest thing you can do to save hundreds of pounds. Energy companies make loads of money off people who have never thought to switch to a better deal. Go to www.uswitch.com, put in your tariff and how much you usually spend. In less than a minute you will be told how much you are likely to save by switching.
On average people save about £403 per year by switching supplier. It is also dead easy. I switched my energy through uswitch.com two months ago and it took less than 10 minutes. You could do it right now!
However, if you really like your current supplier and don’t want to move, give them a call and see if they have a cheaper tariff that you could be on. This would save you money without you having to change a thing.
If you’re struggling with your energy bills, it’s best to talk to your supplier early and get some advice before you get into trouble. The Speakeasy’s Energy Advice Project gives free advice and assistance to people in fuel poverty all across Wales. We particularly help people to secure grants to clear gas, electricity or oil debts and install working central heating systems.
We help people all across Wales, so please get in touch with us if you need help. You can call us on 02921 660789 or look at our website speakeasy.cymru/energy.
Want to find out about services available to you and your child in your area? Would you like to chat about family matters in general? Then get in touch with the FamilyPoint Cymru helpline.
- Phone: 0300 222 57 57
- Text: 07860 052 905
- Instant message (see top of page)