Cutting the cost of keeping cosy this winter

This winter could be long and cold for many of us, with electricity and gas prices going through the roof.

The wholesale price of gas has gone up by 300% this year, and we have seen prices creep up throughout this year. Gas is running low due to many factors, including increased demand in the Far East, not enough wind in September and a cold winter last year. When supply is low, wholesale prices increase and those price increases are passed onto us customers.

What’s more, the energy cap goes up by £140 from 1st October 2021 affecting those on pre-pay meters who already pay more for their energy and those of us on variable rate tariffs.

So what can you do to keep warm this winter – without getting hot under the collar about energy bills?

First, ensure you are on the best deal

Energy suppliers offer fixed rate deals, and if you are coming to the end of yours, it’s always worth shopping around for a better deal. There are lots of comparison sites you can try to look at all providers, but Octopus Energyseems to offer good deals in many cases.

Remember, if you are on a variable rate tariff it will be price capped, so it could actually be a very good deal. If you are happy you are paying as little as possible for the energy you use – you need to see how to use less of it.

Second, stop wasting energy

We all tend to be wasteful with energy. It’s always easy to leave a light or appliance on even when we are not actually using it, or to heat rooms we are not in.

So, start by turning the thermostat down by 1 degree. If 22 degrees is your preferred temperature, reduce it to 21 degrees. The chances are you will not feel the difference, and for every degree a thermostat is turned down, yearly energy bills fall by up to £80.

Use zone heating to help keep costs under control. Only heat the rooms you are actually using. Don’t heat the bedrooms during the day, or the living room while the family is tucked up in bed. If your family congregates in the kitchen before everyone heads off to work or school, you don’t need to heat the lounge during the day. If you don’t have individual thermostats, switch radiators off in the rooms that you don’t use, and keep doors shut.

Even little fixes around the home can mount up to significant savings in your energy bills. For example, fitting your hot water cylinder with an insulating jacket will save you £18 a year in heating costs. Ensure your loft is insulated – your heating bills could go down by as much as 15%. Draught-proofing around windows and doors could save you around £25 a year.

The Energy Savings Trust has plenty of ideas that could help you cut your heating bills.

Third, get some help

You can get help if you’re struggling to afford your energy bills or even topping up your prepayment meter. There are benefits, grants and help offered by the government and energy suppliers which you could be able to apply for.

Warm Home Discount Scheme. You might be able to get £140 off your electricity bill or a £140 voucher for your prepayment meter. It’s worth applying under the Warm Home Discount Scheme if you’re either:

  • getting the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit
  • on a low income

Winter Fuel Payment. This is an annual one-off payment to help you pay for heating during the winter. You can usually get it if you were born on or before 26 September 1955.

Cold Weather Payments.These are one-off payments to help you pay for extra heating costs when it’s very cold. You get a payment each time the temperature drops below a specific temperature for a set period of time. You could be eligible if you already get:

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit

Local energy grants. There is a number of grants available to help with heating. You might be able to find grants or schemes run by your local council and you can check if you can get a local energy grant on the Simple Energy Advice website.

It could be a long cold winter – but there’s no reason why you and your family can’t enjoy a warm, cosy home!

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