Lockdown your energy bills

Spending more time indoors might mean you’re spending more on gas and electric. Having the heating on for longer, cooking extra meals and watching more TV will all have an impact on your fuel bills. To help offset this increase, we asked our energy advisor from Starts with you, Tom Kirby, to give us some money-saving tips during lockdown.

Tip 1: Switch supplier

One way to save money on your fuel bills is change your supplier. Shop around to find the best deal – it could save you more than £300 a year. You can compare energy prices with a free service such as uSwitch (call: 0800 404 7961 or visit their website www.uswitch.com). You’ll need to have a recent electricity and/or gas bill to hand. You can also get up-to-date advice on switching suppliers during the coronavirus pandemic from Martin Lewis’ moneysavingexpert.com website.

Tip 2: Look for the Warm Home Discount Scheme

If you’re receiving Pension Credit or on a low income, you can apply for Government’s Warm Home Discount Benefit. This is a one-off payment of £140 which is sent to your supplier and will come off your bill. Not all suppliers are part of the scheme so, if you’re eligible, make sure you choose one that is.

Tip 3: Read your meter

Don’t rely on estimated readings – read your meter every time your supplier asks you to, or when you receive a bill. This way, you’ll be paying the correct amount each time.

Tip 4: Don’t use heaters

Fan heaters, oil filled radiators and electric fires are very expensive to run. Use your central heating or storage heaters rather than electric heaters. If you do need extra heat, choose a heater with a timer and a thermostat to make sure you don’t overheat the room and waste money.

Tip 5: Look ahead

Even though we’re heading towards the summer months, you should still make sure you’re getting any winter payments you’re entitled to. The Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payment are usually paid automatically if you’re eligible. If you’re not getting it and think you should be, call the DWP on 0800 731 0160 (9.30am-3.30pm).

Speak to Tom

Tom works for our social enterprise company, Starts with you, which provides a range of employment and community support services in and around Greater Manchester. As an experienced energy advisor, Tom offers a one-to-one service which includes a full tariff review and help with switching providers. This usually involves him visiting you at home, which he can’t do at the moment. However, Tom says he’s still offering support and advice over the phone. You can ring him direct on 07782 522498 or email him at: tom.kirby@startswithyou.org

Other energy saving tips

Turn it down – turning your thermostat temperature down by as little as one degree will save a great deal of energy and money each year.

Microwave it – electric ovens are expensive to run so microwave your food if you’re able to.

Switch off – remember to switch off or unplug electrical appliances when you’re not using them. Leaving them on stand-by will cost you money.

Tea time – when you make a cup of tea, only fill and boil the kettle with as much water as you need.

Load it up – make sure you have a full load before switching on the washing machine.

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