Fuel Poverty Action has produced some resources copied below to help people keep warm. Please download and share them wherever they can be of use.
If you have stories about how disabled people are being affected by fuel poverty that you are happy to share please or would like to get involved in campaigning against the effects of fuel poverty on disabled people please contact Ellen on 07505 144371 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- SOME TIPS ON HOW TO BRING DOWN YOUR FUEL BILLS
- STRUGGLING WITH HIGH FUEL BILLS?
- TEN THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU WERE ENTITLED TO FROM YOUR ENERGY SUPPLIER….
SOME TIPS ON HOW TO BRING DOWN YOUR FUEL BILLS
Produced by Fuel Poverty Action
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1. Switch supplier
Consider switching your energy supplier, or switching your tariff from your current supplier. An easy way to do this is through consumer rights advocates uswitch. You can find the cheapest deal through uswitch online at www.uswitch.com or by telephone on 0808 178 3492.
2. Warm Homes Discount
This is a discount of £120 off your annual energy bill. People who get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit are the core group that is eligible, receiving the discount from the government automatically. But the energy suppliers also have broader schemes for other people, each with slightly different criteria. Contact your supplier to find out whether you qualify.
• Insulating your home is an important way to save money on your bills. Several of the energy companies offer free insulation schemes. Get in touch with your supplier to find out if you could qualify.
• The government’s ‘Warm Front’ scheme also offers free grants to people to fund insulation and other home efficiency measures, including loft insulation, draughtproofing, cavity wall insulation and more. The government have just broadened the eligibility criteria for Warm Front- whether or not you’re eligible depends on which benefits you receive. To find out if you qualify, go to http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Environmentandgreenerliving/Energyandwatersaving/DG_10018661, call the Warm Front advice line on 0800 316 2805 or contact your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau. NB the Warm Front scheme expires at the end of October 2012 so apply as soon as possible!
• You can try out DIY insulation-measures: insulate cold walls on the inside with special insulating wallpaper, available from DIY stores.
• Fill the gap between the floor and the bottom of the wall with draught excluder strip (buy this from the DIY store) or, if you can’t get hold of it, strips of rag or rolled newspaper.
• Fill up gaps in the floorboards with ‘plastic wood’ filler that you can buy from a DIY store or sawdust mixed with glue.
• Buy an inside letter-box flap from a DIY store to stop draughts getting in through your letter box. Or make your own with a cloth bag fixed around the inside of the letter-box (with a hole in the bottom to retrieve the post!)
• Fit draught excluder strips round doors and windows.
5. Don’t overheat your homes
• If you have gas central heating, use your room thermostat to control the heating so that you have temperatures of 18°C in most areas and 21°C in the living room.
• Turn your heating off in the summer.
• Set your central heating timer to switch the heating off half an hour before you leave the house or go to bed (if it’s warm enough to sleep without heating.)
• Don’t heat rooms that you’re not using – turn the thermostats in these rooms off, and keep the doors closed.
• Service your boiler every year – this will increase the efficiency of your heating system.
6. Keep doors/windows closed
Keep doors and windows closed when you are heating your home. When you need to ventilate, for example when cooking or bathing and the room gets steamed up, close the kitchen/bathroom door so the rest of the house does not cool down and moisture does not spread and cause condensation.
7. Think about your curtains!
• Close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows.
• Don’t let curtains overhang radiators as this funnels heat out of the room via the glass.
• Don’t put heavy furniture, such as sofas, in front of radiators as this traps warmth and stops it from circulating round the room.
• Open your curtains during daylight to get the heat from the sun.
8. Hot water…
• Take short showers not baths. Showering uses about two-fifths of the amount of hot water needed for a bath. This saves about £45 per year.
• Don’t overheat your water. Setting the hot water cylinder thermostat to 60°C is adequate for bathing and washing.
• Repair dripping taps and make sure taps are turned off properly.
• Use the plug to save on hot water.
9. Electical Applicances…
• Buy energy efficient appliances. An energy label must, by law, be shown for most electrical appliances, with ‘A’ rated appliances the most efficient and ‘G’ rated the least efficient.
• Turn appliances off at the socket.
• When boiling the kettle, only boil the water that you need to use. This will save you around £25 per year.
• Cooking with gas or in the microwave is cheaper than an electric cooker.
• You can save on gas by cooking two or more things at once in the oven and by putting lids on saucepans.
• Washing at 30 degrees means less money spent heating the water in the washing machine.
• Make sure you wash full loads of clothes if possible.
• Use the economy setting on your washing machine if you have one.
• Tumble dryers use a lot of energy. If possible. dry clothes outside or on drying racks.
• Use low-energy light bulbs.
• Make sure you turn lights off when they’re not being used.
STRUGGLING WITH HIGH FUEL BILLS?
A short guide to government schemes that could help you out…
Produced by Fuel Poverty Action.
The government offers several schemes that can help you with heating your home and bringing down your bills. This guide has been made to help you work out what you’re entitled to. You can find all the info online at direct.gov.uk. See the end of this guide for a full list of useful contact details.
There are four different government schemes to be aware of:
a) Warm Homes Discount Scheme – page 1-2. (Only available for older people)
b) Cold Weather Payments – page 2. (Only available if you live an area that has just experienced seven consecutive days of very cold weather).
c) Winter Fuel Payments – page 3-4. (Only available for older people)
d) Warm Front Scheme – page 4-5. (For those on low-incomes living in homes that are poorly insulated and/or do not have a properly funcitoning heating system).
WARM HOMES DISCOUNT SCHEME
The Warm Homes Discount Scheme helps some pensioners with their energy bills. In winter 2012/2013, the scheme will give those who qualify a £130 discount from their energy bills.
The scheme applies to pensioners who receive pension credit, which is an income-related benefit to top up a state pension. Pension credit is made up of two separate parts: Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit. You might receive just one of these or both. If you’re not sure whether you receive pension credit or which parts you receive, or if you do not already receive it but want to find out if you are entitled, call the pension credit helpline on 0800 99 1234 or visit http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Pensionsandretirementplanning/PensionCredit/
If you are under 80 years old, You are entitled to this discount if :
a) You receive the Guarantee Credit aspect of Pension Credit
b) You DO NOT receive the Savings Credit aspect of Pension credit.
c) Your name, or your partner’s name is on your electricity bill.
d) You get your electricity from one of the following energy suppliers: Atlantic, British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, Equipower, Equigas, Manweb, M&S Energy, npower, Sainsbury’s Energy, Scottish Gas, Scottish Hydro, ScottishPower, Southern Electric, SSE, Swalec and Utility Warehouse.
If you are over 80 years old, you are entitled to this discount if:
a) You receive the Guarantee Credit aspect of Pension Credit (if you are over 80, you can receive the discount even if you receive Savings Credit as well)
b) Your name, or your partner’s name is on your electricity bill.
c) You get your electricity from one of the following energy suppliers: Atlantic, British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, Equipower, Equigas, Manweb, M&S Energy, npower, Sainsbury’s Energy, Scottish Gas, Scottish Hydro, ScottishPower, Southern Electric, SSE, Swalec and Utility Warehouse.
If you meet the conditions above you do not need to do anything now to get your discount in 2012/2013. The Government will write to all those potentially eligible for the discount in autumn 2012.
NB Several energy suppliers offer Warm Homes Discounts to a broader range of people beyond pensioners. To find out whether you could qualify, contact your energy supplier.
COLD WEATHER PAYMENTS
If there is a period of very cold weather in your area you may be able to get a Cold Weather Payment. A period of very cold weather is classed as when the temperature is an average of zero degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days in a row. The value of the payment is £25 for each seven consecutive days of cold weather.
You don’t need to apply for a cold weather payment – if you’re entitled, you will automatically receive this.
To receive a payment, you have to receive certain benefiits:
- If you get Pension Credit, you will usually receive a Cold Weather payment.
- If you receive Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, you will get Cold Weather Payments if you also have any of the following:
a) a disability or pensioner premium included in your benefit
b) a child who is disabled
c) Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element
d) a child under five living with you
- If you receive income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), you will usually receive Cold Weather Payments if you also have any of the following:
a) the support or work-related component of ESA
b) a severe or enhanced disability premium included in your benefit
c) a pensioner premium included in you rbenefit
d) a child who is disabled
e) Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element
f) A child under five living you you
If you think you are entitled to a Cold Weather Payment but have not received one within 14 working days of a very cold period, then contact your local pension centre or Jobcentre Plus.
WINTER FUEL PAYMENTS
The Winter Fuel Payment is paid to all households with an occupant aged over 60. The amount a household is entitled to depends upon your personal situation, but is between £100 and £300 per winter. The payment is paid regardless of your income and you can get it if you’re still working or claiming a benefit.
Your household will receive this payment in winter 2012/2013 if you (or someone else living in your house) were born on or before 5 July 1951 and NONE of the following applies for the week of 17-23 September 2012:
- you were in hospital for more than 52 weeks previously, getting free treatment as an inpatient
- you were in custody serving a court sentence
- you were subject to immigration control and did not qualify for help from the Department for Work and Pensions
- you lived in a care home, an independent hospital or Ilford Park Polish Resettlement Home (and had done so for the previous 12 weeks or more) and you were on Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- you move to another European Economic Area country or Switzerland and didn’t qualify before you moved.
If you are eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment and receive any of the following, then you do not need to claim and will be paid automatically:
– State Pension
– Employment and Support Allowance
– Income Support
– Jobseeker’s Allowance
– Pension Credit
– Attendance Allowance
– Bereavement Benefit
– Carer’s Allowance
– Disability Living Allowance
– Graduated Retirement Benefit
– Incapacity Benefit
– Industrial Injuries Benefits
– Severe Disablement Allowance
– War Pension
– Widow’s Benefit
If you do not receive any of the above benefits but you are eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment, then you need to claim. You can do this by downloading a claim form online at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Pensionsandretirementplanning/Benefits/BenefitsInRetirement/DG_198331 or by requesting a claim form by calling 0845 9 15 15. If you need to claim, make sure that you have sent your claim form in to arrive on or before September 21 to get your payment before Christmas.
WARM FRONT SCHEME
The Warm Front scheme provides heating and insulation improvements to households on certain income-related benefits that are having problem with their house’s insulation and/or heating system. The scheme can provide improvements of up to £6000.
NB: The Warm Front Scheme is due to expire at the end of 2012, so apply for a grant as soon as possible!
Grants are available for improvements such as:
• loft insulation
• cavity wall insulation
• hot water tank insulation
• gas, electric, liquid petroleum gas or oil heating
• glass-fronted fire – the Warm Front scheme can convert your solid-fuel open fire to a glass-fronted fire
You won’t have to pay anything as long as the work doesn’t cost more than the grant available. If the cost of the work is more than the grant available you’ll have to make a contribution to enable work to go ahead. Work will not start without making sure you are willing and able to pay the difference.
The first condition of being eligible for a Warm Front grant is that you must live in a property that you own or rent that is poorly insulated and/or without a working central heating system.
Secondly, to qualify, you must receive one or more of the following benefits:
1. Pension Credit (Guaranteed Credit and/or Savings Credit)
2. Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance with any of the following:
• Parental responsibility for a child under 16 who ordinarily resides with that person, or a child that is 16 or over but under 20 and in full time education.
• Child Tax Credit (which must include a disability or severe disability element for a child or young person)
• Disabled Child Premium
• Disability Premium (enhanced disability or severe disability element premium)
• Pensioner Premium (higher pensioner premium or enhanced pensioner premium)
3. Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA IR) that includes a work related activity or support component.
4. Child Tax Credit with an income of £15,860 or less.
5. Working Tax Credit with an income of £15,860 or less and any of the following:
• parental responsibility for a child under 16 who ordinarily resides with that person. (16 or over but under 20 and in full time education)
• disabled worker element
• severe disability element
• are aged 60 years or over
If you are eligible for a grant, then you need to apply. You can apply online at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Environmentandgreenerliving/Energyandwatersaving/Energygrants/DG_10018661, or apply over the phone by calling 0800 316 2805.
If your application form is succesful, you will then be visited by a Warm Front surveyor, who will measure the energy efficiency of your home. The surveyor will then make recommendations on which energy efficiency improvements are most appropriate for your home. The surveyor may find that the energy efficiency of your home is above the threshold required to benefit from the scheme. If this is the case you will not be provided with any recommendations and you will be left with details of where else you may be able to get energy advice and help. However, if the surveyor finds that the energy efficiency of your home is below the required threshold, you will receive a grant.
USEFUL CONTACT INFO.
Government advice: www.direct.gov.uk
Home Heat Helpline: useful advice service for people struggling with fuel bills. Find this online at http://www.homeheathelpline.org.uk/ or ring their free advice line on 0800 33 66 99.
Citizens’ Advice Bureau: find advice online and search for your local advice centre at http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ or call 08444 111 444.
Energy Supplier helplines:
British Gas: 0800 072 8629
EDF: 0800 096 9966
EON: 0345 301 4875
RWEnpower: 0800 073 3000
Scottish and Southern Electricity: 0845 026 0658
Scottish Power: 0845 026 0658
This guide was produced by Fuel Poverty Action. Fuel Poverty Action are a group of people fed up with high fuel bills, rising energy company profits, government cuts, negligent landlords and dirty, polluting forms of energy. We believe that everyone has the right to affordable, clean energy and warm, affordable and secure housing. We aim to support community action to defend these rights. Get in touch with us if you’d like to find out more.
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TEN THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU WERE ENTITLED TO FROM YOUR ENERGY SUPPLIER….
Produced by Fuel Poverty Action
1) Get compensation for wasted time
You don’t have to wait in all day for a meter reader or engineer. If your energy firm needs to visit you at home, you are entitled to a two-hour appointment slot – and, should they not turn up, you are entitled to compensation of £22 for a gas or electricity appointment or £44 for both.
2) Know the backdate limit
If you have had your bills recalculated because of a mistake by the energy provider, there is a limit to how much they can ask you to pay up. If your usage has been underestimated, the supplier can backdate your bills for only up to 12 months. However, to avoid even a year’s worth of charges, get into the habit of providing regular meter readings to ensure you always pay the right amount.
3) Know your rights with price rises
If your energy provider is putting up its prices, it is required to give you 30 days’ notice and cannot implement the increase if you tell it within 15 working days that you’re leaving. And despite what the name suggests, those on fixed-rate tariffs cannot be charged an exit penalty if they switch within this time.
4) Payments for power cuts
If consumers lose power, they can claim compensation for power cuts from their energy distributor, rather than the supplier. If your power is out for more than 18 hours you are entitled to £54, and £27 for each additional 12 hours without power. Similarly, those who have four or more power cuts lasting three hours or more in a year should receive £54. To get your refund, contact your energy provider.
5) Get extra help
Pensioners and people who are disabled or chronically ill can get extra help through their supplier’s Priority Services Register. This includes free quarterly meter readings, bills in large print or Braille or bills sent to a friend or relative, and a free annual gas safety check for those in receipt of means-tested benefits.
6) Know the switching timetable
If you switch energy supplier in order to ensure that you are on the most competitive tariff, it should take no longer than five weeks from start to finish. This includes the two-week cooling-off period and three weeks for the switch. Keep in mind that suppliers have also committed to make switching hassle-free, so if there are any problems it is their responsibility to sort it out, not the customer’s.
7) Compensation for being misled
If you have had your energy supply switched to another provider without your permission, you are entitled to compensation of £250. You are also entitled to compensation if you can prove you were deliberately misled by a sales person.
8) Know where to get help with debt
If you get into debt, your supplier must agree repayments that are affordable for you. Some suppliers, such as British Gas, EDF and npower, also have trust funds that can help you to settle debts or other essential costs.
9) Find free insulation
Loft insulation can save you an average of £120 on your annual energy bill, but costs as much as £300 to install. Many suppliers will offer free loft and cavity wall insulation with cash incentives. For instance, E.On and EDF are offering incentives of £100 and £200 respectively to those on low incomes who register for free insulation. Contact your supplier to find out, or check out the deals that other suppliers are offering…
10) Remember your cooling-off period
Have you switched your tariff only to have a cheaper one launched just days later? Or maybe you felt pressurised or put on the spot by a telesales agent? Not to worry, it is not too late to change your mind. All consumers who switch energy supplier are entitled to a 14-day cooling-off period during which they can switch back without incurring any charges.