Heating your home usually makes up the biggest part of your home energy bill. This translates to about 53% of the money you spend on gas and electricity. Heating is an essential living cost which, depending on your home, can be quite high. Unfortunately, some people are unable to keep their homes adequately heated, otherwise known as fuel poverty, which is a serious and complicated issue.
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Fuel poor households are those that spend more than 10% of their income on fuel use and for heating to a certain temperature range. This is defined as 21℃ in the living room and 18℃ in other rooms. A household’s energy efficiency, energy costs, and income are the 3 main factors at play here.
Fortunately, there is help available and ways to keep your home warm. To raise awareness of Fuel Poverty Awareness Day on February 23, I’ve compiled a list of tips to make heating your home more affordable.
Take Regular Meter Readings
One of the most important things you can do to make your heating costs more manageable is to take regular meter readings. If you take note of your readings and give them to your energy supplier on a regular basis, you’ll be able to keep an eye on your energy use. This way, you’ll be able to quickly notice if there’s a large spike in your energy readings.
By submitting your meter readings to your supplier consistently, you’ll also help make your bills more accurate. If you see an ‘E’ next to your meter reading on your energy bill, this means that it is just an estimate made by your supplier. With only estimates, it is more likely that you’re paying the incorrect amount for your energy.
Talk to your Energy Supplier
If you are having trouble with your energy payments, it is definitely worth it to contact your supplier. This might come as a surprise, but the energy company is on your side when it comes to debt and can be a significant help.
They might be able to find a solution that works for you. For example, talk to your supplier to set up a gradual payment plan that you can afford. However, it is important to be realistic with what you can pay since you still have other essential bills to pay. They must also give advice on how to avoid getting into debt in the first place, possible ways of repayment, and provide you with an accurate account of the amount you owe.
If a payment plan is not possible, the energy company might give you the option of a prepayment meter. This means that you’ll be paying for the fuel as you use it, which can drastically change your energy use habits. However, prepayment meters are usually more expensive so be sure to ask about other options. Also, if you owe £500 or less for gas and electricity, you can switch to a new supplier and reassign the debt to your new company under their terms instead.
If you’re unable to come to an agreement with your supplier or not satisfied with the offer, you can ask for additional help. The Citizens Advice group is able to help you and you can contact them either through their consumer helpline or an online form.
Improve your Home’s Energy Efficiency
How efficient your house is plays a big role in your energy bill. If your home is old or has fallen into a state of disrepair, then there could be plenty of warm air escaping out into the cold. These draughts can come from almost anywhere but is more likely in doors, windows, loft hatches, and pipes.
Draught excluders are great ways to stop warm air from leaking. Cut them to match the dimensions of your windows or doors, peel, and stick them on the edge. For your door, install a letterbox flap or brush and a keyhole cover. Also, draught proof your loft and put in proper cavity wall insulation to further improve your home’s energy efficiency.
By using these easy-to-install products, you’ll make your home more energy efficient. This will help your central heating system greatly, since less warm air will be lost. Not only will it really make a big difference to your energy bills, but to your own comfort as well.
Check if you are Getting the Best Deal
If the running costs of your heating is too high, it’s worth considering a switch to a new energy provider. Depending on your specific situation, you don’t have to be stuck with your current energy supplier. Instead, shopping around for a better deal could lower your bills by around £300 a year.
Take a look at various price comparison sites to find the best deal for you. Make sure that the site you are using is approved by Ofgem and is accredited with their Confidence Code. Ofgem has a list of their approved price comparison sites.
Check if you are Eligible for Discounts and Benefits
Another way to reduce the burden of your energy bills is to ask if you can receive discounts or benefits. For example, there are 3 government schemes that you might be able to apply to if you match their requirements.
There is the Warm Home Discount, which gives you £140 off your electricity bill. The second is the Winter Fuel Payment, which is an annual payment between £100 and £300 to help you pay for heating during the winter months. Finally, there are Cold Weather Payments. These are payments of £25 per week when temperatures drop to very low levels.
Additionally, contact energy companies and ask about ways that they can help. For example, British Gas, EDF, and E.on offer grants and schemes that are open to anyone. Other companies, such as npower and Scottish Power have grants specifically for their customers only. Make sure to look around to find all discounts, benefits, grants, and schemes that are available to you.
Heating your home can be very expensive. Unfortunately, this is a problem for the millions of households in the UK that have trouble making their energy payments. However, there is help available in the form of grants, discounts, payment plans, and advice from energy suppliers and organisations. And with increasing support for Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, hopefully there will be a solution to this issue sooner rather than later. Please show your support by getting involved #fuelpovertyawarenessday!
Author Bio: Harold Calingacion is a content marketer who loves to write informative and interesting articles, always looking to improve the lives of readers. He earned a BCom in East Asian Studies and International Business from the University of Alberta. In his off-time, Harold enjoys travelling, photography, reading up on interior design, and learning about music production.