How to use less gas and electricity at home
Watch out for vampire devices
Make sure you’re not leaving devices on standby. British Gas research states that UK households could save an average of £147 per year by switching off so-called ‘vampire devices’.
The Energy Saving Trust (EST) said consumers need to consider which devices they leave switched on. According to the EST, between 9% and 16% of electricity consumed in homes is used to power appliances in standby mode.
Use draft excluders
If you don’t already, using draught excluders will help to reduce heat loss within your home.
Other useful tips to help bring your costs down
- If you have a combi boiler, turn the flow temperature down to 60°C
- Turn down radiators in rooms you aren’t using
- Turn off appliances at the socket
- Wash clothes at a lower temperature
- Use your tumble dryer less
- Close all your curtains and blinds at night
- Track your energy usage using an App
Make your home more efficient
Suppliers can offer free gas safety checks every 12 months – this could make your boiler more efficient, keep bills down and make sure you and everyone else in your household are safe.
You can request a safety check if you get a means-tested benefit, own your own home and either:
- Live with a child under five
- Live alone or with others and have reached state pension age
- Live alone or with others and are disabled or chronically ill
- Live with others who’ve reached state pension age or are disabled, chronically ill or under 18
Landlords are normally responsible for keeping your gas appliances safe if you don’t own your own home.
Boiler Upgrade Scheme
The Boiler Upgrade Scheme is only available to people living in England and Wales. If you’re eligible, you’ll be able to apply to receive a grant to help you cover the cost of replacing an oil, gas or electric heated boiler with a more environmentally friendly heat pump or biomass boiler.
If you live in Scotland, you might be able to get an interest-free loan or a grant to make your home more energy-efficient.
If you live in Northern Ireland, you might be able to get a grant to replace your boiler.
Other ways to save
Direct Debit switch
Paying by Direct Debit is usually cheaper and will help you manage your costs more closely within your budget.
Simple Energy Advice calculator
This calculator allows you to see how you can improve your energy efficiency. You can compare relevant information to previous entries to ensure you’re not overpaying when it comes to your gas and electric bill.
If you use an oxygen concentrator
If you use an oxygen concentrator at home, you can get money back for the electricity it uses. The company that supplies your concentrator can make payments to your bank account. The supply companies’ details are:
Are you an Octopus Energy customer?
Octopus Energy has launched a rewards scheme that pays you to use less at peak times this winter.
The scheme aims to empower smart meter customers to manage their energy consumption in exchange for various benefits and prizes.
You can also receive a free electric blanket through OctoAssist if you fit the criteria.
To make sure the blankets are getting into the right hands, Octopus Energy will be supporting customers with specific vulnerabilities and medical needs.
To start your application, you must create a budget.
Are you a British Gas customer?
With PeakSave, you can save money on your energy bills by making small changes to when you use electricity.
Half-price electricity every Sunday from 11am to 4pm
To get your electricity half-price, you’ll need to:
- Be a British Gas electricity customer
- Have a smart meter, so British Gas can see how much you use on Sundays
- Pay by Direct Debit or when you receive your bill
If you’re having trouble paying your bills
If you cancel direct debit payments or refuse to pay
If you’re struggling to pay your bills you should contact your energy supplier in the first instance who may be able to help.
Cancelling direct debits could lead to you getting into debt and in some cases may mean the energy supplier installs a pre-payment meter (where safe and reasonably practical and all other means of payment have been exhausted). It may also affect your credit score.
If you’re considering using a loan shark
We understand nearly 2m households missed payments at the end of last year, with energy bills at the top of the list.
Loan sharks are criminals who lend money at extortionate rates of interest and control or even threaten their borrowers to ensure they pay. Victims of loan sharks can end up trapped in an endless cycle of debt for years, often with devastating consequences.
At PayPlan, we’re proud to be the first national debt advice provider to achieve partner recognition status with Stop Loan Sharks England and The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) for our work in raising awareness about loan sharks and helping customers access essential support services.
IMLT state that “loan sharks create an environment of fear, intimidation and control for their victims and will use almost any means to tempt people into taking out a loan with them. They know how to spot people who are vulnerable and who need money.
“This creates a vicious cycle of debt for those unable to pay back their loans and often leads to serious financial issues, such as families losing their homes or being pushed into extreme poverty because they don’t have enough money to survive.”
Our debt advisers are well-equipped to help customers who have experienced illegal money lending. They can identify those at risk of loan sharking practices and safely refer victims to confidential support services.
You can speak to Stop Loan Sharks England on 0300 555 2222.
If you’re being chased for a debt by an administrator
In almost all circumstances, the administrator will collect debts for your old supplier and your bill may come from them rather than your old supplier.
If you were using a pre-payment meter to pay off your debt, you might not be able to use the meter to pay the administrator – they’ll advise you on how you can pay.
You might be asked to pay all of your debt back at once (as administrators don’t have to follow the same payment rules as energy companies). You should still try to negotiate a payment plan with the administrator. They should consider this, even if they don’t agree to it.
Speak to your new supplier if your debt means you’re struggling to pay your energy bills.
What happens to energy bills when someone has passed away?
It’s important to contact the supplier as soon as you can. Most providers will have an online form you can complete, which will ask for contact details, details of the person who has passed away, whether gas/electricity will continue to be used at the property and any details of the executor of the estate. You can also give them a call.
If the property is jointly owned or rented, the person still living there will be liable for ongoing bills. If the energy bill was in the name of the deceased person’s sole name, any arrears should be paid by the estate. If there isn’t enough money to do this, the money will no longer be owed.
Dealing with finances whilst also coping with a loss can be overwhelming, and along with the National Bereavement Service, we’re here to help you. You can get in touch with us for further support by contacting us.
If you’re in debt
- Contact your energy supplier to discuss your circumstances
- Once they’ve been advised you’re in payment difficulty, they must take into account your circumstances and offer help
- Your supplier must work with you to agree on a payment plan you can afford, based on what is called ‘your ability to pay’
- They must clearly communicate how much you’ll regularly repay, how the repayment will be deducted, when the debt will be repaid and what to do if you experience difficulties during the debt repayment arrangement
Remember though, we’re here and ready to help with free, confidential debt advice. As well as providing practical advice and support, we can help you organise a budget to suit your personal circumstances. Get in touch with us.
If you’re struggling with arrears, you might be able to benefit from Breathing Space to give you space and time to work out how to deal with them. We can help you with this.
Please note BudgetSmart has been created to provide you with information but it’s important to always do your own research too. Whilst BudgetSmart contains links to third party websites we think you might find useful, PayPlan is not responsible for any external content or any actions you take when accessing these links/websites