As many households manage the cost of living this winter, local MP Scott Benton is urging residents to check if they are entitled to additional support with household energy costs.
On Wednesday 8 November, Scott Benton met with British Gas and its parent company Centrica to discuss the help and support available to households. The supplier, which has committed £100 million to help consumers since the start of the energy crisis, continues to provide the biggest support package ever offered to UK energy customers by a supplier. The British Gas Energy Support Fund provides grants of up to £1,500 to thousands of its customers with debt.
In addition, the British Gas Energy Trust delivers millions in grants, energy efficiency measures, fuel vouchers and advice to all energy consumers. You don’t need to be a British Gas customer to seek support from the British Gas Energy Trust.
Scott Benton MP said:
“While the energy price cap has recently been lowered, many households are still struggling with the cost of living. I want to make sure people know the support available to help them and I encourage anyone who is struggling to speak to their energy supplier and organisations such as the British Gas Energy Trust.”
British Gas engineers Alex Dewart and Isaura Johnston said:
"As engineers visiting customer homes, we know households are facing tough times. There is help available and people should contact their energy supplier to make sure they’re receiving support – whether that is being added to the Priority Services Register or accessing grants, like those available through the British Gas Energy Trust.
“There are a number of changes you can make around the house to improve energy efficiency and save costs. Here are our top tips:
- Bleed your radiators: Air can enter the system and form bubbles at the top of your radiators, which stops them from working efficiently. If you notice cold spots at the top of your radiators, switch them off and after they cool, turn a radiator key in the valve at the top to let the air out.
- TLC for your boiler: In our experience, people often don’t give much thought to their boiler until something goes wrong with it – but regular services can prevent problems from arising at all. British Gas’s Homecare products mean customers can protect their boiler and have an annual service. It’s essential for keeping the household going, so it’s well worth looking after. To find out more, visit: www.britishgas.co.uk/homecare.
- Shut out the cold: You wouldn’t leave the back door open when the heating’s on, but warm air could still be escaping without you realising – and cold air could be sneaking in. Draught proofing around your windows and doors can save around £60 per year. Self-adhesive foam strips are easy to fit on windows to prevent draughts, while draught excluders are perfect if there’s a gap between your door and the floor. Your keyhole and letterbox can allow cold air into your home. Keyhole covers and letterbox brush strips are cheap to buy, quick and easy to fit and will stop those draughts.
- Furnish for warmth: Think about where your heat sources are, and make sure your radiators can do their job properly. Putting your sofa in front of a radiator may keep the best spot in the house extra toasty, but it will absorb heat that could be warming the rest of the room. Curtains and rugs have an important part to play as well, because thick material (the thicker the better) prevents heat from being lost through windows and doors – just don’t forget to open your curtains during the day so that the sun can do some of the work!
- Turn off radiators in rooms not in use: It’s important not to spend money heating spare rooms or other rooms not in use during the winter, so if you know a room isn’t going to be used, make sure you turn the radiator off and close the door to stop cold air circulating through the rest of the house. When you do need to use the room, just turn it back on ahead of time to heat it up.
- Wrap your pipes up warm: We often come across frozen condensate pipes – which can burst or crack when the water inside turns to ice. The best solution is to stop the water inside your pipes from freezing in the first place. Insulating materials are an easy, cost-effective solution, available from most DIY stores – it will ensure the pipes don’t lose heat saving an average of £15 on your bills and preventing any costly repairs.
- Heat your home, not your walls: Cover a thin sheet of card with tinfoil and place it behind your radiators (if you're feeling particularly crafty you can make it T-shaped so it sits on your radiator brackets). It'll reflect the heat back into your rooms, meaning they warm up faster and retain more heat. If DIY isn't your thing, you can also buy ready-made foil insulation. Households can save around £25 a year doing this depending on the insulation in their home.
- Check your thermostat settings: It’s easy to turn the thermostat all the way up when it's freezing cold but what temperature should your house be? Aim to set your main room thermostat somewhere between 18°C and 21°C and you can save around 10 percent on your heating bills – an average of £115 a year – by turning it down by 1 degree. It's also a good idea to set your thermostat to one temperature and then use a timer to turn it on and off when you need the heating most. That way you won't waste excess energy from leaving the heating on too high, for too long.
- Get your heating right for bedtime. Set your heating to start 15 minutes before you wake up and turn off 30 minutes before bed. This can save money and even help you get a better night’s sleep. You can also turn down the heat in any rooms not in use.
- Be energy smart: Unsurprisingly, winter is peak season for energy usage. Making the most of smart tech like thermostats means you can control your heating on the go and avoid wasting money on energy you’re not using. For example, if you’re stuck at work or delayed on the way home, you can use your smartphone to stop the heating from coming on too early and warming up an empty house. Also, if you have a smart meter installed, you can see how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence, helping you to identify where you can make savings.
- Get the help you’re entitled to: It’s always worth finding out if you’re eligible for extra assistance with your energy bills, especially before the cold weather sets in. Face-to-face advice, financial support and grants up to £1,500 are available from the British Gas Energy Trust (even if you’re not a British Gas customer). Most suppliers also offer assistance funds to provide grants towards energy costs.”
Jessica Taplin, Chief Executive of British Gas Energy Trust said:
“We understand how lost you can feel if you’re struggling with debt. The British Gas Energy Support Fund was set up to respond to the increasing cost of living. Through the fund, thousands of eligible British Gas customers with fuel debt of up to £1,500 have been awarded grants to pay off their debt.”