When Hard-up Save Money on Energy Bill

Is there a way for you to save money on energy if you are hard up?

It will get to a stage when cold weather will become unbearable.  You may have to make a decision and turn the central heating on to keep yourself sane in such long nights and short days. 

In Britain the average temperature in winter had been 5c. Last winter it was 3.5c. Protecting yourself from cold weather is going to be a challenge even in current winter especially when it's below 0 degrees. If you have children, elderly or health conditions, you and your household could be further in need of a warm home. Putting aside double or triple glazing, or anything else expensive to install,  I want to give you a few simple tips to save you  money on energy which may, at the same time, prevent you from catching a cold, asthma, or even a heart attack in this winter.

Payment in winter:

The cost of gas and electricity is significantly high during winter. It’s also a necessity to use fuel in this period. In summer you have the warm weather so there is no need to keep your home warm. Unfortunately, in winter, there is no escaping. You need it to stay alive.

It might put you at ease to know that your energy bills can be brought down if you know where to look. Cold Weather Payments are one of the ways to do just that.  To qualify for the payments, you may have to keep an eye on the actual weather forecast. Watch out for your nearest weather station and keep a record of the temperature at or below 0 degrees. The scheme is valid only between 1st November 2019 and 31st March 2020. There is a catch though: you must be in receipt of Pension Credit, Universal Credit, Income Support, Income Based Job Seekers’ Allowance, income related Employment Support Allowance for at least one day during the period of cold weather. You’ll get £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather. In case you want to find out how to get it, check here: https://coldweatherpayments.dwp.gov.uk/

If you are in receipt of state pension (and another benefit), you may be entitled to a one off Winter Fuel Payment. You should be getting this payment automatically. Your energy supplier adds the payment to your bill. If you don't get a reduction in your bill you should consider making a claim by calling 0800 731 0160. You will be asked to provide your National Insurance Number, bank or building society account details, and the date you were married or entered into a civil partnership (if appropriate).

Avoid estimated bills:

According to Ofgem, the energy industry regulator, an average household energy spend is around £1,254 per year.  To estimate your bill, a  fuel supplier uses various equations - your past energy usage, the time of year, whether your house is insulated and the number of people who live there.  

If you are paying your bill on an estimated reading, you are not the only one. It’s a well-known fact that in winter the cost of energy is high regardless of the variation in usage in the weekends, in the daytime or  at night. An estimated bill is not the true reflection of your actual use of energy. If you are ever in doubt, contact your provider to get a true reflection of your energy cost. You need to write your meter number or take a picture of it, contact your supplier and give them the number shown on your meter. You will then know your actual energy usage. 

Switch supplier

Perhaps you have done everything you could, yet, it’s impossible to bring the cost of energy down - what do you do next? You must consider switching your supplier. If being faithful to your energy supplier does not bring reduction in the cost of energy, what is the point of sticking with it.  

USwitch.com, a free online website that you can use to find whether there are better fuel suppliers available to you in your locality.   

Guess what: I recently helped a client to switch.  Through USwitch.com I brought her energy bill down by £300 for a year. You won’t necessarily see the reduction in your energy until you make the decision to be unfaithful and do something about it. You do need to come out of your comfort zone and make the move.

Pre-payment meter and save money:

You may want to call it a ‘key meter’ or a ‘pay as you go’ tariff. Around 5.9 million people in the UK have a prepayment energy meter. It’s a well-known fact that prepay customers have fewer options for tariffs and they pay more. If you can find out whether you can change to a credit meter, you will definitely save money.  It will open up to a variety of cheaper tariffs for you. If you request for a credit meter, before they make a decision, a fuel supplier will do a credit check on you to see whether you can keep up with repayments with the meter. If you pass the check, an engineer will call in to remove the prepayment meter. It could be that they may charge a fee to pay for the cost of installation of the credit meter. You might be able to offset the cost of installation by making savings on the new tariff.  

Do remember: each supplier has its own policy on whether to replace the prepayment meter. Contact your supplier first. 

There are other options too. If you are on a pre-payment meter you can still switch your supplier to get a better deal. According to Ofgem, as long as you owe less than £500, you can switch to a new supplier even if you are paying off the debt.  You would do it under the ‘Debt Assignment Protocol’. This  means the new supplier takes on the existing debt and you repay the new provider based on a new agreement with the new supplier. So long the supplier agrees with you to take on your debt, you can then definitely switch. 


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