Cold and frosty days that make you want to curl up by the fire are all part of the appeal of the festive season. But for many, a warm and cosy home may be a dream rather than a reality this time of year.
Across the country, there are around 2.4 million households in fuel poverty according to latest Government figures. That’s 2.4 million families left having to make impossible choices between heating their home, feeding themselves and their children and paying their rent.
In this unprecedented year, keeping your home warm has never been more important, as it is essential for staying healthy.
If you, like many, are concerned about affording your energy bills this winter, take some time to find out what help and support might be available to you. There are also practical things you can do in your home to reduce your energy usage.
Read on for our quick guide
Help and support
NEA’s WASH Advice Service is a free support service providing advice to householders in England and Wales on their energy bills and keeping warm and safe in their home. You can contact them on 0800 304 7159 or visit their website here.
There are a number of grants and benefits available to people who are struggling to afford their energy bills. These include the Winter Fuel Payment, Cold Weather Payment, Warm Home Discount Scheme and Grants to pay off energy debts.
Citizens Advice have a really useful guide to all of these, here.
You can also go straight to the Government website here.
Things you can do
There are many small things you can do in your home that can add up to significant savings on your energy bills over the year.
· Insulate your home as far as possible – use draught excluders and seal up any gaps around windows and doors.
· If you can, fit insulation in your loft.
· Draw your curtains at dusk to help keep the heat in, but make sure they don’t cover the radiators.
· Make sure your radiators are not obstructed by furniture.
· Use your thermostat to set the temperature to at least 18 degrees and allow your heating to run throughout the day. You can use your thermostatic valves on your
radiators to turn up the heat in the rooms you spend more time in and down in those you use less.
· If you are over 65 or have a health condition, it may be beneficial to keep the heating running at least 18 degrees overnight.
· Don’t sleep with your windows open.
· Make sure you have allowed us to carry out your annual gas safety check on your boiler.
· Turn your appliances off rather than leaving them on standby.
· Use energy efficient appliances wherever possible and try to reduce your use of tumble dryers and washing machines.
· Switch energy suppliers. You may be able to save money by using a different supplier. Online comparison sites can help you find the best deals,
· Keep your home damp-free by reducing condensation. See our guide here.