Scots are being offered a special service this week to help them save money on their fuel bills.
The CAB service is today launching Big Energy Saving Week – an intensive information campaign that will urge people across the country to take advantage of cost-cutting schemes that could save them hundreds of pounds a year.
Yesterday the Scottish CAB service revealed that by using these schemes it delivered a total of £243,000 last year to Scots who needed help with their fuel bills. This week’s campaign is based on the same sort of advice.
The advice is free, and can be obtained from any CAB or from www.bigenergysavingweek.org.uk or the campaign phoneline 0808 808 2282. In addition, local CABs are holding information events all week in communities across the country – including in Forfar, Arbroath, Stow, Golspie, Irvine, Lanark, Ardrossan, Airdrie, Nairn, Lauder, Galashiels, Wishaw, Kilbirnie and Largs. Full details of all
The Scottish wing of the campaign is being launched today (Monday) at Tesco’s in Nairn Road, Forres from 10.30am-11.00am. (Photographers welcome. Location IV36 2EY. More Details 07774 751655).
Launching the campaign, Citizens Advice Scotland’s Chief Executive Margaret Lynch says,
“Fuel poverty is one of the main issues that people bring to the CAB service. The bills keep rising, but peoples’ income levels struggle to keep up. As a result many households get into debt, and others have to make the choice between eating and heating.
“The good news is that help is available. There are many good schemes around. Some offer financial help, others help you insulate your home so you don’t have to use as much energy. How much you save depends on your circumstances, but it can be hundreds of pounds over the course of a year.
“Many people tell us they would love to use these schemes but they don’t know how to, or they don’t know which ones are the best. This week is all about making that information available to people. There are over 200 CAB events happening all over the UK to promote the campaign. Here in Scotland we will be out in more than 20 communities, taking the message direct to people.
“But you can also get the information by contacting your local CAB or through our national website and phoneline (see above). We urge everyone in Scotland to get this information this week, and to pass it on to people you know – particularly those who you think are financially vulnerable.
“Last year, by giving information like this, the Scottish CAB service delivered nearly a quarter of a million pounds in help for people who needed our advice on fuel bills. So it really does work. The schemes are there, the advice is free, and it’s there for anyone who asks for it. There’s no catch here. The CAB service is on the side of the consumer, and we want to make sure everyone gets every bit of help they are entitled to. So please come and get it. That’s what this week is all about.”
Big Energy Saving Week is supported by the UK government and the fuel companies as well as the CAB service and other charities. It will run from 27-31 January and aims to help consumers take practical steps to make cuts to their bills by checking they are on the best deal, switching tariff or supplier and taking up help to insulate their homes to cut the amount of fuel they use.
Notes to editors - click to expand/collapse
Local Campaign events in Scotland - These are all run by local CABs and will mainly take the form of stalls, posters and CAB staff handing out leaflets and giving advice to passers by. Photographers and journalists are welcome to all, but pls check first in case of changes – 07774 751655.
SURVEY SHOWS THE NEED FOR THE CAMPAIGN
A UK-wide survey for Big Energy Saving Week highlights that less than a third of those asked had spoken to their energy supplier to check they were getting the best deal for them. Only 19 per cent had insulated their homes and as few as one in ten had switched to a cheaper way to pay.
These are the three messages of Big Energy Saving Week: Check, Switch and Insulate. Research has shown that householders could benefit from savings of up to £320 from energy efficiency measures, an average of £100 by paying by direct debit and those who had never switched before could save up to £200 by shopping around.
The survey also found that people are trying to cut their energy costs by turning down the heating (52 per cent of people) or using less electricity (51 per cent of people). More than a sixth (16 per cent) are using fewer rooms in their home.
TOP TEN TIPS
To help people take control of their bills the Citizens Advice service has released ten top tips to help you check, switch and insulate. These are the basic messages of Big Energy Saving Week. More details from www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/campaigns/current_campaigns/big-energy-saving-week/
1. Check your bills carefully and read your meter regularly. This will allow you to check how much energy you use and make sure you’re paying the right amount.
2. Talk to your supplier if you think your bill is wrong or if you have problems paying. They’ll be able to give you advice about available support or talk you through repayment options.
3. If money is tight, contact your local CAB. They can check to see if you are getting the benefits you are entitled to, or if you can get help paying your bills.
4. Make sure that you’re on the cheapest tariff. Check with your supplier and use an accredited switching website to see who’s offering the best deal. Tariffs are changing in 2014 so it is important that you are aware of your current deal and any changes your supplier is planning.
5. Most energy suppliers offer fixed price tariffs, where the price of a unit of energy will stay the same for the length of the deal. These can work out cheaper in the long term and make it easier to budget – although you might need to pay by direct debit and your bills will still go up if you use more energy.
6. If you use a pre-payment meter, remember that standing charges will be added daily - even when you aren’t using energy. Check how much they are and keep your meter topped up even during warm weather to avoid unexpected charges
7. If you use heating oil as your main fuel, buy before winter and see if there are any local oil buying clubs you can join. If not, you might want to start your own.
8. Make your home energy efficient – insulate lofts and walls, double glaze or use thick curtains to keep the heat in, and get your boiler serviced or replaced to ensure it is energy efficient. There are schemes to help with this.
9. Save money and energy – don’t leave appliances on standby or leave laptops and mobile phones on charge unnecessarily. Fix leaking taps and always turn off the light when you leave a room.
10. Do a home energy check to find out about savings of up to £250 a year on household energy bills. Visit the Energy Saving Trust home energy check at hec.est.org.uk. Use this check to get a full report with details of your home’s energy use and the savings you could make.
MORE QUOTES, FROM THE UK CAMPAIGN
Angela Knight, Chief Executive of Energy UK, said:
“Energy companies know the cost of living can be a real concern so it is important customers get a good deal on their energy. Around a million people switched supplier in November and December, 230,000 of which moved to a smaller independent supplier. This goes to show that if customers aren’t happy with the deal they are getting, it’s easy to shop around and find one that suits better.
“Customers can also help themselves by making sure they are energy savvy and making the best use of the energy they use. There are many ways to cut your energy use from fitting new boilers, double glazing or improving your insulation and to smaller things like closing the curtains when it gets dark and not leaving the telly or other electrical appliances on standby.
“Big Energy Saving Week is an example of the energy industry and its many partners working together to help our customers make the most of their energy use, take control of their bills and access all the help available to them if times get tough.”
The UK Government’s Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Edward Davey said:
“The recent recession was the deepest in our peacetime history and many people have less money in their pockets as a result. That's why helping people who are struggling to pay their energy bills is a top priority for this Government. We’ve been working tirelessly to reform the energy market, almost doubling the number of suppliers since 2010 and making it easier to switch supplier, which people are doing in droves. And there is targeted help with bills for the most vulnerable.
“There are more opportunities than ever before for individual householders and communities groups alike to take control of their energy. From community energy projects to the Green Deal and renewable heating schemes, I want to make sure people are aware of how they can make their homes warmer and reduce their energy use.
“Big Energy Saving Week provides an excellent way to showcase just what customers can do to reduce their bills.”
MORE DETAILS OF THE OPINION POLL
New figures show that three in five people in the UK are worried about the effect that rising household bills will have on their finances over the next year and over half (53 per cent) of UK adults – 27 million people – will have to cut their spending to cope. The Big Energy Saving Week campaign will help people avoid making other cutbacks. Of those who plan on cutting their spending:
• 59 per cent said they will have to reduce the amount they spend on food;
• More than a third will look for ways to reduce their energy bills;
• 8 per cent of people said that they will consider moving to a cheaper home;
• Two thirds of people say they will have less time to spend on time out with family and friends.
Twenty per cent of British households are struggling or falling behind with their bills. A further 32 per cent of people said they were keeping up with costs, but it was a struggle from time to time.
Of those concerned about paying their fuel bill:
• Just over half have cut down the amount of energy they use;
• More than a third have spent less on food;
• 1 in 3 has sacrificed leisure activities or spending time with family and friends;
• 15 per cent have gone into their overdraft to pay their energy bills;
• 1 in 10 has borrowed money from family and friends.
Note on Transfer of Consumer Responsibilities to CAB service
In April 2014 the UK Government will transfer responsibility for speaking out for consumers across post, energy and, in Scotland, water to Citizens Advice Scotland and Citizens Advice (England and Wales). Citizens Advice Scotland will also take on a Great Britain-wide helpline for complexenergy or post complaints. Both of these are currently the responsibility of an organisation called Consumer Futures, which will be absorbed into the Citizens Advice service. This is the last in a series of Government reforms to make it easier for consumers to know where to turn for help, and ensure they have an effective champion. We've already beefed up our role in representing consumers across other issues like payday loans, and now provide an advice service for people with consumer problems.