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Are your energy bills costing too much?

Posted 14 May 2015

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A guide to help you save money on energy in the home.

If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills, recent research* carried out for the Debt Advisory Centre Scotland shows that you’re not alone. In fact, 10% of Brits have arrears on their water, gas or electricity accounts. On top of that, 4.7 million say they’re regularly cut off from their pre-paid electricity and over 4 million say they often can’t afford to top up their gas meter.

If you’re in this situation, there are things you can do.

 

How to deal with arrears

 

If you’re in arrears on your energy bills, the best thing you can do is talk to your supplier about it, and the sooner you do it, the better. Doing nothing could lead to you being cut off, although this is usually the very last resort.

Energy suppliers have certain rules that they have to follow when dealing with customers who are in arrears – they have to provide advice to help you pay back what you owe, and also create a payment plan based on what you can afford – it’s in their interest to help you get back on track, so contacting them is nothing to be scared of.

For more advice you can contact Home Energy Scotland.

 

Are you claiming benefits?

If you’re currently claiming benefits, you can arrange to have the money that you owe taken directly from them – this will help stop the temptation to spend it. It’s applicable if you’re claiming Income Support, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, Pension Credit or Jobseeker’s Allowance and you can see if you’re eligible here.

There are also schemes set up by the Scottish government that offer grants that could help you save energy in your home. Try the Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland for more information and to see whether you’re eligible for a grant.

There are also schemes set up by the Scottish government that offer grants that could help you save energy in your home. Try the Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland for more information and to see whether you’re eligible for a grant.

 

Energy savings tips

 

If you’re using more energy than you would like, there are other ways of saving that you could try:

 

1. Get in the habit of turning things off when you leave a room. Radiators and lights don’t need to be on if you’re not using them.

 

2. Fix any leaking taps – particularly if they’re the hot ones. Dripping showers can also cost you money too.

 

3. Try turning your thermostat down by a couple of degrees – you probably won’t notice a change in temperature, but you should notice a decrease in your bills.

 

4. Set your washing machine to 30 degrees and only use 40 if you’re washing something that perhaps needs the extra heat, like bed sheets and towels.

 

5. Speak to your supplier to see if you could be on a more cost effective tariff, or shop around for a better deal.

 

*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 6th March and 26th March 2015, of whom 640 were Scottish residents.



by Sarah Symons

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.