Turning down the heat
Energy prices are high, but we can all save money by shopping around for the best prices, Click here for our page on switching suppliers. Saving energy by turning down the heat just a little, or making sure you switch off lights and electrical appliances will also save you money. See our Quids In! Bill-busting Special, packed with tips on how to save energy and cash.
Which? rates energy companies
Good Energy is the best energy supplier, according to the 2013 Which? Switch energy satisfaction survey, followed by Ecotricity and then Ebico and Utility Warehouse.
The results show that small providers are streets ahead of Britain’s six biggest energy suppliers, British Gas, EDF, Eon,Npower, SSE and Scottish Power. Npower languished at the bottom of the table with a customer satisfaction score of just 39%. Read more
Smart meters need to be harder to hack
Smart metres are often suggested as a way to keep to a heating budget, but concerns have been raised about their security. Read The Guardian’s report here. Money Supermarket looks at the pros and cons of prepayment meters here.
The cost of cold homes
Cold homes cost the NHS in England £1.36 billion every year as older people suffer health problems, according to Age UK. This feature in Inside Housing is from 2012, but the problems remain the same.
A helping hand from the industry
The Home Heat Helpline advises people worried about paying their energy bills and keeping warm during the winter. It gives advice to low-income households in urgent need of heating help and advice. (Tel: 0800 33 66 99, calls are free and the lines are open 9am-6pm Monday to Fridays.) It also takes calls from other organisations such as the CAB and housing associations.
The Home Heat Helpline was launched by the Energy Retail Association in 2005. The ERA merged with the Association of Electricity Producers and the UK Business Council for Sustainable Energy to become EnergyUK in April 2012.
Since it began, the Helpline has received more than 300,000 calls from across Britain. The orgnisation claims that almost callers said that they had cut down their energy bills after calling, and many more were able to access benefits and grants.
Who can help?
Click here to download a comprehensive directory of schemes set up to help people struggling to pay their bills. Organised by region and supplier it is produced by Auriga. If you are in difficulty, speak directly to your supplier. Many have helpful schemes and grants available.
The Warm Homes Discount Scheme offers a £135 discount on electricity bills for older people, and some suppliers also offer this discount to people on a low income.
These days there are almost as many switching sites as there are energy providers. You should look for companies that adhere to the Ofgem Confidence Code. Ofgem has a list of key points to bear in mind when shopping around for a better deal.
The Energy Saving Trust‘s website is packing with tips on saving energy and water. You can also call the Energy Saving Advice Service in 0300 123 1234 for independent advice. (Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, Saturday 10am to 2pm, national rate call)
Turn2us has a detailed page of advice on what to do if you are struggling to pay your energy bill.
The CAB has a page of advice for those struggling to pay fuel bills.
AgeUK gives tips for staying warm and healthy in winter.
Keep Warm, keep well: advice from the NHS states that being cold can adversely affect health and gives tips about how to stay warm.