In this article you'll find information about the specialist service we offer at Citizens Advice to help you reduce your energy bills by: switching supplier; applying for energy related benefits and/or discounts; sharing energy efficient measures for your home and supporting you if you're struggling to pay your bills. You can call us anytime for help but some applications for discounts need to be submitted by 31st March.
It's been a cold, hard winter and many of us have had to stay at home during lockdowns as we try to deal with the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Heating and general fuel bills are going to be higher than normal and this may lead to concerns for many householders about going into debt.
For this reason, it's the ideal time of year to think about switching energy suppliers as we emerge from Winter into Spring. It's also time to check whether you are eligible for energy related benefits.
How can Cambridge & District Citizens Advice help you:
- We can give you advice on energy switching by carrying out an online comparison. Savings from switching energy supplier average around £300 per year - see Money Saving Expert 2017 ;
- We can help you save money by sharing ideas to make your home more energy efficient;
- We can check that you are receiving any energy related benefits for which you are eligible and
- If you are struggling to pay your energy bills, our advisers can help you deal with fuel debt.
Why call us for specialist advice on reducing your energy bills?
We currently have two specialist advisers - Richard and Chloe - who have successfully completed the Level 2 NEA/City & Guilds qualification 'Fuel Debt Advice in the Community'. This qualification has given Richard and Chloe a better understanding of the causes of fuel debt so that they can continue to provide specialist advice to low-income and vulnerable households, as well as to clients in general. They can also share their specialist knowledge with our generalist advisers on the front line so that we can continue to improve our service overall.
Advisers at Cambridge & District Citizens Advice - including our volunteers - need to be well trained in the key issues that affect many of us, not only because we always aim to give our clients the best advice available, but also because our advice is regulated and quality controlled. In the last year we have consistently scored highly for quality and for customer service.
Energy related benefits that you might be eligible for include:
- Winter Fuel Payment: If you were born on or before 5 October 1954, you could get an annual one-off payment of between £100 and £300 to help pay towards energy bills. The deadline for you to make a claim for winter 2020 to 2021 is 31 March 2021.
- Warm Home Discount (WHD): Not all energy suppliers are part of the WHD scheme, but you might be able to get £140 off your electricity bill if you’re either getting the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit or are on a low income.
- Cold Weather Payment: These are one-off payments to help you pay for extra heating costs when it’s very cold. You will get a payment each time the temperature drops below a specific temperature for a set period of time. However, you have to be eligible for other means tested benefits to qualify.
You can find full details about housing and heating benefits on the Gov.uk website at https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits.
If you or any members of your family or friends are facing fuel debt or the risk of fuel debt, give us a call or email us for advice. Our contact details can be found on our Get Advice page. Why not give us a call now?
- Common issues faced by householders that can lead to fuel debt
Common issues faced by householders that can lead to fuel debt include:
- customer, supplier and private landlord responsibilities;
- problems with meters, fuel statements and billing errors;
- contacting the energy supplier and complaints procedures;
- definitions of vulnerability used by the energy industry;
- switching energy supplier;
- tariff and payment options including the Warm Home Discount Scheme, grants and other forms of assistance – including trusts and hardship funds.