Advice and Guidance
Switching energy and Gas Supplier
Changing tariff/supplier can result in savings of up to £300 a year. Here are a few simple steps you can take to find a better deal.
Find out what type of tariff you're on
Use a neutral price comparison website to compare suppliers
One you've chosen the your new supplier, contact them to arrange the switch and they'll do the rest
Take a photo of the meter reading the day before you're scheduled to switch. This will be used to close your old account
Make a note of the length of your new contract, so that you can find the best deal on the market as soon as it ends
Read more notes on changing energy supplier here
Ofgem’s approved price comparison websites
Changing my energy usage habits
Take regular meter readings and submit them to your energy supplier as this will help you keep an eye on your energy use and keep your bills accurate.
If you receive a bill and it has an ‘E’ marked against the meter reading, then this means it is ‘estimated’ by your supplier. You may not be paying the right amount for your energy. Having several estimated readings can sometimes lead to large unexpected bills.
Meters are read from left to right. Don’t include any numbers that are red or in a red box.
Note: if you have a smart meter, you won’t need to take and submit meter readings as these will be done automatically and you will not receive any estimated bills as your supplier will know how much energy you’re using.
Use heat controls correctly
Make sure you are using your boiler and heating controls correctly and use the programmer to set up the system to match your needs. For example, setting your heating to come on half an hour before you get up in the morning.
Use a room thermostat to control the temperature in your home. Ideally, this should be set between 18oC and 21oC but some people may need it higher.
Remember not to leave electric hot water immersion heaters on for longer than you need as this wastes energy and money.
Use storage heaters correctly
Some homes have night storage heaters. These build up heat overnight when electricity is cheaper, which is then released throughout the next day. Homes with storage heaters should be on an Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff.
If you are not using your storage heaters correctly you could be faced with a large bill. For further information go to www.nea.org.uk/advice.
Be more aware of your energy usage and how you can cut down
• Turning off appliances by the plug can save £30 per year
• Drying washing without the use of a tumble dryer could save up to £139 per year
• It is cheaper to have a shower than a bath as less energy is used to heat the water
Making my home more energy efficient
The main areas that heat can be lost are through the roof and windows. Blocking draughts can be a cheap way of making your home warmer and draught-proofing products are available at DIY stores, to see larger energy savings you may wish to invest in making your home more efficient (while some of these measures may have larger upfront costs than DIY measures, the ultimate saving will be larger). We have partnered with Radflek to offer savings on the purchase of their radiator reflectors using a special discount code. Please see below for more details.
You can reduce heat loss through the roof by investing in Loft Insulation Read more
Ways to reduce heat loss through walls Wall Insulation Read more
Ways to reduce heat loss through windows:
Up to 35% of heat loss is lost through windows. Here are a few things you can think about to minimise this loss.
Getting double or triple glazing. Having thicker windows allows light and heat to get into your house but cuts the amount of heat that can escape. Double glazing works by having two sheets of glass with a gap in between which means that it’s harder for cold air to get through. Triple glazing works in a similar way but with a third sheet of glass. Windows, however, are expensive and the payback period is quite high so these are generally only suggested to be changed if you need new windows. Getting thicker windows may also reduce outside noise in your property.
Investing in different curtains. The most energy efficient curtains should be floor-length to reduce heat loss through windows and thicker curtains will prevent more loss through the windows. If you have blinds instead of curtains, ensure that they fit snugly in the window frame otherwise they will not conserve much heat from the room.
Closing curtains at dusk to keep the heat in. This will prevent the cold air from inside coming into the house as the curtain will block it and keep some of the warm air from sunrays escaping the property. Another way to do reduce heat from windows is to close windows during cold weather.
Closing doors is an effective way to keep heat in a particular room so if you’re heating a room where you are spending time in, it will stop the heat seeping into rooms that you spend little time in, ie: hallways.
Checking for air-leaks. You can do this on a cold day with the heat on inside your home by placing your hand around the edges of all exterior doors and windows. It is not advised to seal up bathroom and kitchen air vents and fans as these are used to prevent condensation in the home. While utilising an extractor fan in kitchens and bathrooms will use energy, it will mean that you don’t need to open windows as often which will keep some of the heat within the home.
You can reduce heat loss through the floor by:
Using thermal underlay on any flooring. This will reduce some heat loss going through wood floors. You can also reduce heat loss by putting rugs and mats through any small holes in the floor.
You can reduce heat loss behind your radiators by:
Using radiator reflectors in your home. You could be losing half the heat that you are paying for through the wall behind your radiator. Fitted out of sight behind your radiator, Radflek Radiator Reflectors prevent heat loss through walls by reflecting 95 per cent of wasted heat back into the home, helping to cut energy consumption and heating costs throughout the year.
Radflek has been designed with the customer in mind meaning that you don’t need to be a DIY expert to install the reflector sheet – scissors, a tape measure and a few minutes per radiator will do the trick. When the heating is turned on Radflek reduces the amount of time it takes for your radiator to get to temperature as the wasted heat from the back of the radiator is now being reflected into the radiator (making it more efficient) and back into your home making you feel warmer quicker. Radflek helps reduce carbon emissions, less energy used means a smaller carbon footprint.
Visit the Radflek website here for more information.
Click here and GET 20% off with CODE: SSF20 making the most popular 5 sheet pack just £27.19 + P&P.
About Smart Meters
A smart meter is a new generation of gas and/or electricity meter that will allow you to see your energy usage in real time so that you can decide to make changes to save money. You will not have to send meter readings directly to your supplier as these will be done wirelessly. Smart Meters come with a device called an IHD (in-home display); IHDs are different depending on the supplier but most will allow:
If you pay by direct debit:
• How much energy you are currently using
• How much energy you have used in the last hour, week, and month
• How much your energy usage costs
• Whether your energy usage is low, medium or high
If you use a prepaid gas or electricity smart meter, it can also show you:
• How much credit you have left
• How much you have left on your emergency credit balance
• Your debt balance, if you have one
• An alert if your credit is running low
Getting a Smart Meter installed
Every household will be offered one between now and 2020. You can contact your supplier directly before then to ask if you are eligible to get one now. Smart Meters operate by radio waves so you don’t need Wi-Fi to use it.
If your gas and electricity are with the same supplier, your supplier will aim to install both new smart meters at the same time. If you have different suppliers for electricity and gas, you may require two installations. Your supplier will contact you about getting it installed.
About my options relating to fuel debt
If you are in debt to your energy supplier and struggling to get on top of it, then speak to your supplier as soon as possible. If they know there is a problem they can work with you to find a solution. Ask to set up a payment plan and be realistic about what you can afford to repay. You don’t want to leave yourself short for other essential bills.
You can also get advice on energy debt from Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506 or your local Citizens Advice Bureau. TextRelay users should use 18001 03454 040506.
Make sure you are claiming the correct benefits. This could increase your income as well as make you eligible for other types of assistance. Take advice from Citizens Advice on 03454 040506 or visit www.gov.uk/browse/benefits.
Other discounts and payments
Ask your energy supplier if you are entitled to a Warm Home Discount. This is a discount of £140 on electricity bills for the winter period 2019-20. Those who receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit are eligible, as are some other low-income and vulnerable households.
If you were born on or before 5 November 1953 you should be eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment. This is an annual payment of between £100 and £300. You will be paid automatically between November and December if you have claimed before or are in receipt of State Pension or some other benefits. Others will need to apply for it. Call the Winter Fuel Payment Helpline on 03459 15 15 15.
The Cold Weather Payment of £25 per week will be paid automatically to those on certain benefits when very cold weather occurs or has been forecast.
Priority Services Register
You can sign up to the Priority Services Register (through your energy supplier) to receive extra help from your energy supplier as well as from your distribution network operator (the company that operates and maintains your electricity supply). More info here.
You can receive the services available if you:
are of pensionable age
are disabled or chronically sick
have a long-term medical condition
have a hearing or visual impairment or additional communication needs
are in a vulnerable situation
Each energy supplier and network operator maintains its own register.
A wide range of support is available including:
information provided in accessible formats
advance notice of planned power cuts
identification scheme, password protection and nominee scheme for a family member or carer on behalf of the customer
priority support in an emergency
arrangements to ensure that it is safe and practical for the customer to use a prepayment meter
meter reading services
Contact your gas/electricity supplier and distribution network operator for more information and to register. Details of your distribution network operator can be found on your electricity bill.
How to pay for fuel
If you choose to pay by direct debit this is an instruction from you to your bank or building society. It authorises the organisation you want to pay to collect varying amounts from your account. This means that your bill will always be paid as you won’t forget. Frequently, suppliers will offer a cheaper deal if you pay by direct debit so if you are able to set one up, it is advisable.
A prepayment meter is a special type of energy meter that can be installed in domestic properties. With a prepayment, or 'pay as you go' tariff, customers pay for their energy before they use it – usually by adding money to a 'key' or by purchasing special tokens. Prepayments are estimated to cost more per unit of energy and some suppliers do not offer their cheapest deals to prepayment customers.
Depending on supplier you can often send a cheque for the bill amount to the address provided by the business. Be aware it can take up to five days for them to process the cheque and receive the money from your account.
Bills can be paid by cash or card at the Post Office. There can sometimes be a fee for using this service but you can do so even if you don’t have a bank account.
If you can manage your billing online, many suppliers will give you a more competitive tariff. Some suppliers have an app where you can top up/pay for fuel.
Frequency of billing
You can choose to pay your electricity bills either monthly or quarterly (every 3 months) when taking out a new tariff. Some people prefer to pay monthly as it will be smaller instalments and some people prefer to save up and pay quarterly.
Water saving tips
Advice and guidance provided by
In the bathroom
Brushing your teeth: Remember to turn off the tap while brushing your teeth – a running tap wastes approximately 6 litres per minute.
Leak detection: Leaky loos are one of the most common causes of unexpected high water use for consumers in the UK. When a toilet is leaking, water dribbles away down the back of the pan, which means a leaky loo often goes unnoticed. A leaking toilet most commonly refers to clean water running from the cistern into the pan.
To detect a slow leak add a few drops of food colouring to your toilet cistern
Don’t flush it for around an hour
If the food colouring is present after an hour, you have a leak
It’s easy to fix though! First contact your water company who may well fix it for free. Or you could find a recommended plumber to call or if you fancy a bit of DIY take the parts to the hardware store and ask the staff to help replace them
Remember to check again for a leak once fixed.
Short Shower: A short shower with an efficient showerhead uses less water than a bath, which is usually 80 litres. But beware since many power showers may actually use more than a bath. Baths and showers are accountable for the highest usage of water consumption in the home at around 34%.
To help keep track of time try using a shower timer.
It is estimated that Britain ‘showers away’ more than 2,000,000,000 litres of water each day.
If every home in the UK took one minute off their shower every day it would save £215 million on our collective energy bills every year.
Switch Showerhead: Aerated showerheads reduce the flow but don’t compromise on pressure. They maintain the pressure by mixing in air with water to produce a steady, even spray.
Low flow shower heads reduce the amount of water used, whilst still giving you the feel of a normal shower.
Baths: By running your bath just an inch shorter than usual, you can save on average 5 litres of water.
You can minimise your water use by reusing your bathwater to water your houseplants or garden.
Toilets: About 30% of total water used in a home is used to flush the toilet. Remember, this water is the same high quality water that's in our taps.
Update to a water efficient toilet: Dual flush toilets have a split flush button which gives the user the choice of how much water to use.
Dual flush toilets typically use 4-6 litres of water opposed to the old style flush systems which use a massive 13 litres per flush.
Cistern Displacement Device (CDD): A CDD is placed in the cistern to displace around 1 litre of water every time you flush. They are super easy to install.
Installing a CDD can achieve savings of up to 5000 litres per year.
They are available for FREE from most water companies.
Blockages: Try to avoid flushing away cotton wool balls or make up tissues, simply throwing them in a bin will cut down on the amount of water wasted with every flush and obviously protect our sewers.
Remember the 3 P rule: only poo, pee and paper down the toilet.
Please visit here to request your free water saving goodies from Thames Water
In the kitchen
The Dishes: A dishwasher on an eco setting can be more efficient than washing dishes by hand, if the dishwasher is totally full. However, recent research has found that only half of people say they use the eco setting.
Try to buy a dishwasher with a capacity suitable for your household size so it’s always full when you use it.
Avoid pre-rinsing dishes, detergents are highly effective so all you need to do is scrape and place.
Try adding a washing up bowl or plug into your sink – this can reduce water wastage by 50%.
Adding a tap aerator can help reduce the flow.
Laundry: When buying a washing machine, check the label or specifications for water use, the best models will typically use less than 7.5 litres per kg.
Read the manual to find our which cycles are the most water efficient.
Kettle: Try to fill the kettle with only what’s needed, this will save water and energy.
Lids: Using the lid on saucepans reduces the amount of water lost through evaporation, it also helps veg cook quicker.
Meat: high meat diet increases your carbon and water footprint. 70% of freshwater withdrawal is used by agriculture in the world and livestock use about 20% of freshwater for feed production. 15,415 litres of water is required to produce 1kg of beef; and 5988 litres to produce 1kg of pork. This may be lower if your meat is from the UK. For every litre of milk produced, a cow needs to drink at least 3 litres of water.
Dairy: A quarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions come from food. 58% of this comes from animal products.