Energy bills are often near the top of the news agenda, especially so during the colder months due to the impact of rising energy costs on the vulnerable and those less well off in our society. However, although price increases hit the poorest hardest, it has become a problem for middle-earners who also face ever higher bills for keeping their homes warm.
How many people can’t afford to heat their home?
The latest data, published in 2016, estimates that fuel poverty affects 3.5 million or about 13% of all UK households. A household is defined as being in fuel poverty when spending on energy costs exceeds 10% of household income.
In 2008 the government brought in the Winter Fuel Payment, entitling many older people to a single payment of between £100 - £300 to help with energy costs although in many cases this still doesn’t cover additional costs. The issue of escalating fuel bills came up again in 2017 when then Prime Minister Theresa May announced an energy price cap for those on variable-rate fuel tariffs.
There have been private and charitable initiatives to help as well, such as the Surviving Winter campaign which encourages wealthier recipients of the Winter Fuel Payment who don’t need it to donate their payment to those less well off.
Top tips on how to keep costs down
Invest in some good insulation
A lot of heat is lost through the roof of a house, so having a properly insulated ceiling is essential to keeping the cold out and the heat in. For those living in older houses, it may also be worth looking into cavity wall insulation. New build properties are generally built to a higher standard and very well-insulated.
If you have radiators installed on external walls, you could look to place reflective sheets behind them. These low cost sheets reduce the amount of heat lost through the wall by reflecting it back into the room.
Double glaze those windows
It’s estimated that about 20% of homes in the UK still don’t have double glazing – this is a quick win to help you keep more of your hard-earned heat indoors.
Keep your curtains drawn in the evening and open during the day
Even in these drab winter months, the sun is still powerful and just a few hours of sunlight shining through your window will lift the room temperature by a few degrees. Similarly, when it starts getting dark close those curtains to stop the heat escaping.
Consider changing energy provider
Switching your gas and electricity supplier could save you money each month – and it couldn’t be easier. Many of the major price comparison sites now have calculators which allow you to see how much you could save and walk you through the process from start to finish.
Get involved with Big Energy Saving Week 2020
Big Energy Saving Week is a national campaign organised by Citizens Advice which aims to help people cut their energy bills, use less energy, make their homes more efficient and help them to access all of the financial help available to them.
For more information, visit the Citizens Advice website.