Residents in north and west Kent can get help to cut their gas and electricity bills by an average of £200.
Citizens Advice north and west Kent (CANWK) is running Energy Best Deal workshops for local clubs and groups. These will help people understand how to compare energy prices, negotiate with providers and cut down how much energy they use.
Community groups – especially those for pensioners and young families – are being invited to apply for a free hour-long workshop with an energy champion. Last year over 9,000 people from across the UK attended an Energy Best Deal session. People who took steps to cut their bills following the advice they received in the sessions expected to save an average of £200. One couple in Kent have saved £639 by switching supplier.
Energy Best Deal is a project run by Citizens Advice and Ofgem and funded by energy companies. This year Energy Best Deal has secured a £200,000 increase in funding, raising the total to £1.4 million.
Louise Walford, South East Energy Champion at CANWK, said: “Energy Best Deal can help people keep their homes warm and their bills affordable this winter. “Workshops are on offer across north and west Kent to help people cut their gas and electricity costs by comparing prices and negotiating with their suppliers.”
Dermot Nolan, Ofgem CEO said: “Ofgem is committed to supporting consumers in managing their energy bills. “We are pleased to be working directly with Citizens Advice on Energy Best Deal. They have excellent advisers all over GB who provide energy customers with face to face advice and practical support to help with switching, managing bills and accessing social support.” Mr Nolan added: “Consumers should also remember they have a choice. Those unhappy with their energy company can vote with their feet and shop around for a better deal – savings of around £300 can be made by switching from a standard tariff to the cheapest fixed tariff.”
Local groups wanting to organise an Energy Best Deal workshop should contact CANWK on 01732 440488.
Energy top tips
1. 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. Citizens Advice runs a price comparison tool: https://energycompare.citizensadvice.org.uk
2. Check your bills carefully and send a meter reading to your supplier regularly. This will allow you to check how much energy you use and make sure you’re paying the right amount. Find out more about how to do this here: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/your-energy-meter/how-to-read-your-energy-meter
3. 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.
4. If money is tight, contact your local Citizens Advice. They can check to see if you are getting the benefits you are entitled to, or if you can get help paying your bills.
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: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland/consumer/energy/energy-supply/get-help-paying-your-bills/grants-and-schemes-to-help-you-save-money-on-energy-bills-s
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 on household energy bills: http://hec.est.org.uk