It has been announced today that 1 in 5 people in Britain are in poverty – a record high.
With insecure work and increased costs-of-living on the rise, this escalates concerns for those who struggle to afford the cost of living.
This announcement came on the same day as it was announced that the price cap was only to be lowered by only £17 per year – meaning a monthly difference of only just £1.41.
“We know that those who are more likely to be on these costly “default” tariffs are those who can afford it the least,” said energyhelpline spokesperson Victoria Arrington. “With the announcement today that record amounts of employed people in the UK are living in poverty, we have to ask if the impact of a £17 is enough for those who are truly struggling.”
Though the impact on bills is minimal, the price cap can hopefully bring attention to what may be an simple route to reducing the cost of living.
Analysis by energyhelpline shows that those who switch to a bargain tariff could save £377 – a staggering 22 times as much – now by switching supplier.
Though this is only one element of a complex issue, it’s hope that it could provide some relief to those who need it the most.
Other ways to bring down energy bills:
1. Check you are receiving the help you are entitled to – which may take more than £440 off your bill.
There are two main schemes which can help vulnerable people afford their winter energy bills. The first is Winter Fuel Payments, which are automatically credited to those who receive a state pension or certain other benefits – those eligible are typically paid between £100 and £300.
The other main scheme is the Warm Home Discount. This is a £140 (incl. VAT) one-off payment for you to use on energy bills. However, it is an opt-in scheme, so you will need to check if your supplier runs the scheme and if you fit their eligibility criteria.
Finally, if the temperature falls below zero Celsius for more than 7 consecutive days, you may be able to get access to a £25 Cold Weather Payment from the government, per 7-day occurrence of sub-zero temperatures between 1 November and 31 March.
3. See if your supplier can help.
If you are worried about getting behind on your bills, don’t hide it from your supplier. Many energy suppliers will restructure your payments or put you on a special program for customers in need to make things more manageable for you. This might mean moving to a system where your energy bill is paid ahead of other utilities, to ensure you don’t fall back into the red
4. Take Steps to make your home as energy-efficient as possible.
- Don’t let heat leak out. Be sure to block any draughts – which may come from under the door, your letterbox, and even from the keyhole. Making sure you close the curtains at night can also help keep heat in – the heavier the fabric, the better insulation it provides.
- Control the heat flow. Certain gadgets aim to redirect the flow of heat emitted from a radiator. This can include a simple “cap” which goes on top of your radiator to direct the heat more into the room, or even devices that use fans to push the flow of the heat inwards. Make sure that large pieces of furniture don’t cover up your radiators and stop them from releasing heat into the room.
- Use radiator foil to prevent heat loss. Poorly insulated rooms may benefit from foil put behind radiators and even on windows. For maximum effectiveness, you could opt for a specialty radiator foil which you can apply yourself (coming in at under £10 per roll). Even a high-quality roll of kitchen foil can make a positive impact. If placed carefully behind your radiator, it can be both well-hidden and highly effective.
- Consider window insulation film. This low-cost answer to double-glazing can be added to your windows with tape and a hair dryer. Though it isn’t as effective as traditional double-glazing, it can make a difference for a far less investment.
- Bundle up. Wearing warm clothes and using blankets can make a huge difference in how warm you are. Remember, wearing several thin layers will trap in heat next to your body and be more beneficial overall than one thick woolly jumper.
- Use an electric blanket. These typically use much less energy than other forms of heating – and when combined with a high-tog rated duvet, they can keep you nice and warm all night without needing to heat the whole room.
- Switch off electronics on “standby”. Televisions, appliances, and computers on “standby” mode could cost £100 or more in wasted energy over the course of the year. When these items are not in use, consider switching them off at the mains, so they are not sucking energy, and increasing your bill.