Resolver consumer expert Martyn James shares tips on what to do when struggling with the cost-of-living crisis
The government has introduced some support measures such as the municipal tax reduction, but these will not offset the sharp rise in gas and electricity prices.
So what can you do when you’re struggling to pay your energy bills?
NationalWorld spoke to consumer experts at resolver Martyn James for his top tips on where to find help.
Speak as soon as possible
Ofgem’s rules state that utilities must work with you to create an affordable plan.
But you have to be willing to give them some information about your circumstances in order to do that.
The solutions they find might include:
- A review of your regular bill payments and debt repayments
- payment pauses or reductions
- More time to pay off outstanding debts
- Access to hardship funds
- Suggestions for better tariffs or energy saving methods
See what grants, grants, and benefits are available
You may have heard of help and support for the elderly or vulnerable.
The Priority Services Register is a free support service designed to help all types of people who may need this support.
You must contact your energy supplier to be included on the list, but this is free of charge. Learn more at Ofgem’s website.
Try to reduce your energy consumption
Try these tips and give your utility meter readings regularly so you don’t end up with a big bill because of poor estimates:
- The big culprits in energy use in your home are “wet appliances” – the term for the goods in the kitchen that use water, such as washing machines and dishwashers. Try to only use it for full charges, learn more about the function of the “Eco Mode” button and lower the heat as low as possible. These machines need to heat the water they use, which can result in them being a quarter the cost of your energy bill
- Turn the thermostat down one notch. A smart thermostat can save you a lot, but when money is tight, that’s just not feasible. But did you know that turning the thermostat down just one notch can save you around £80 a year?
- Turn off standby. Most electrical devices can be properly turned off, although you may want to leave the smart TV/satellite/cable box plugged in if you don’t want to lose your favorite recordings. If remembering it is a faff, why not get a plug with a timer on it?
- Clean out the fridge. When your fridge is cluttered, it needs more energy to do its job, so keep it relatively clear and the temperature at a reasonable level. Most experts advise a level of 1 to 5 degrees Celsius – measure the temperature instead of relying on the dial.
- Your parents were right – turn off the lights! Or better yet, replace your incandescent bulbs with LEDs. This may seem like a hassle, but it could save you up to £50 a year. If it’s too expensive to do it all at once, replace them when the old ones die.
- Get a smart meter. Yes, it went horribly wrong last time, so the government program was scaled back while the technology was sorted out. The second generation of smart meters are now available, compatible with different energy providers, so you can switch if you want (but always check first). Smart meters make it easier to monitor your energy consumption and keep track of your bills.
- Save money on energy and water. That Energy Confidence have a lot of really great advice on their website. A great way is to add an energy efficient shower head and shave off shower time by just a minute per person. A family of four could save £28 on their gas bills and around £47 on their water bills with one meter.
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