After all the expense of December, what better time than January to look at your energy bills and see if you could save money in the year ahead by switching providers or plans?
You may or may not have heard of ‘Big Energy Saving Week’, but the national campaign – taking place from 21st to 25th January 2019 – is dedicated to looking at how much you are paying for your gas and electricity. Specifically, the week focuses on how to save costs by switching, checking you are receiving all the relevant discounts or grants you qualify for, as well as making homes more energy efficient.
Recent Ofgem (Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) research found that more than half of households were still on a poor value deal when they could actually be saving hundreds of pounds by switching. Particularly likely to benefit are those who have never switched before (estimated to be as much as 34% of the country).
The busyness of everyday life, feeling loyal to a certain provider you may have been with for a while or perhaps being unsure of how exactly to change suppliers can all hold us back from making a switch – but the stats don’t lie. Last year’s campaign in Tunbridge Wells saw as much as £200-300 being estimated in savings per year for tenants if they changed suppliers – so, how could you do the same? Overall, the UK-wide campaign helped thousands of people save approximately £1 million overall, according to Citizens Advice.
Check on an established online tariff checker:
If you feel comfortable with checking the best deal online, try Citizen Advice’s dedicated Online Tariff Checker. The free tool allows you to see if you could save money on your gas and/or electricity bills. Simply take a couple of minutes to answer some questions on your current arrangements and consumption and ideal plan (i.e. pay by direct debit or after receiving bill) to see if you could save (and how much) and where to go to do so (as well as seeing providers’ customer service rating). Note, most suppliers offer the best deals to those paying by direct debit.
What’s an ‘Energy Switch Guarantee’?
Some providers will say they offer a ‘Energy Switch Guarantee’ – essentially meaning they want to promote that they make a switch as ‘reliable’ and ‘hassle-free’ as possible for consumers and that it will take place within 21 days . It also means that if you do make the switch and change your mind, you have 14 days from your move being confirmed to change back to your previous supplier.
Don’t worry if you don’t have an idea of your home’s gas and/or electricity usage as you can simply choose your house type (e.g. ‘terraced’) and input how many people live there for an approximate idea of what you could save.
Are you receiving all the relevant benefits?
Regrettably, not everyone realises the benefits out there when it comes to energy. Specialist support (e.g. the government-backed ‘Warm Home Discount’) for consumers with certain needs (i.e. low-income families and those receiving certain benefits) is available from participating suppliers, but not everyone knows about it, or is signed up to the Priority Services Register.
Some receive guaranteed pension credit and automatically receive the Warm Home Discount, but some that meet the criteria will have to apply to save up to £140 on your winter bill through the scheme (which comes through between September and March) if you are with a relevant supplier. The discount does not affect receiving Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment, but is offered on a first-come-first-served basis, so get in touch with your provider as soon as you can by phone or online to find out more.
The ‘Priority Services Register’ was set up to ensure people with certain needs are made a priority to be reached if a power cut takes place. Signing up can be done online or via your energy provider.
More information on getting help with any of above is available via Citizens Advice – more on that below.
Want more one-to-one help to look at your bills?
Citizens Advice has you covered – we’ve collaborated with them to have them on hand at the locations below in Tunbridge Wells to offer advice from the week starting Monday 21st January, with related events running until the end of the month (contact CA for more information).
They will be at the following locations:Here you can meet someone from Citizens Advice who can guide you through exactly how to switch fuel supplier or tariff and claim the Warm Home Discount, advise you on getting the most value for money and make sure you are getting all the benefits (i.e. relevant discounts and/or grants) and consumer rights. They also can answer any questions you have regarding your energy (e.g. about smart meters or recent price caps).
Elsewhere in the region, Citizens Advice is running Big Energy Saving Week-related activities in Dartford, Gravesham, Tonbridge & Marley and Thanet.
If you are having problems related to paying bills, remember Citizens Advice can help with that too – its advice and services go far beyond Big Energy Saving Week into supporting you with any concerns, whether they be regarding money or debt, work, mental health or legal issues.
Find more details on your local branch below.