In the News

The Household Support Fund got little mention after the Budget. This puts money into the hands of local authorities to help those in need. Rather than give a sum of money across the board it can be targeted specifically to fuel and food poverty situations. So please spread the word and help signpost those who need to know where to go to get the assistance they require. The Budget gave additional funding to this scheme.
From April there will be funds for helping people insulate their homes. Ask your landlord what EPC rating you have and encourage him/them/her to do more in your home to bring down the bills and reduce condensation, black mould and consider what plans are in place to give up the gas.
Vampire Electricity consuming products
Do you leave things on standby? Not everyone agrees, but although each item is only costing a fraction, collectively the amount adds up over the whole year. So if finances are tight, it’s worth checking what could be unplugged when not in use. Remember if a plug gets warm it is using energy even when the appliance is not plugged in.

Talking on Radio 5 Live recently about energy and I highlighted the fate of customers in blocks of flats or communal heat networks where the owner or manager organises the shared heating system. These are classed as commercial users and are not protected by the Price Cap. If you are in control of any of the 17000 communal heat networks and the 500,000 customers who are facing hikes in their energy bills, please get in touch with support@shrinkourbills.co.uk I hope you can do better for these groups of people to prevent rent arrears or choosing between heat or eat.

I also mentioned Greg Jackson at Octopus Energy who offered an Agile Tariff. Contacting customers the day before, his company offered discounts during the next 24 hours in order to spread the load on the National Grid. If all the suppliers were to negotiate in this way, then the country would be using energy in an efficient way.

So we now know that discounted acquisition tariffs are a thing of the past but we are also left with the fact that affordable energy is not possible for everyone. In order to “give up the gas” we are going to have to look at rural homes, off-grid solutions, secondary supplies, insulating older houses and how to protect the country from the global fluctuations in price as Europe moves away from nuclear.

Each household can look at how they plan to heat their homes and the water in the years ahead.  A mixture of different systems will probably be best and so, if solar panels are possible, this is well worth investigating along with storage of the energy produced. Also worth considering are heat source pumps and modern storage heaters with flexible controls.  Insulation, reducing bills by changing habits, and a better understanding of the utility bills will all help to shrink bills at home and at work.   Here are a few tips:-

  1. Economy 7 Electricity (where a day and a night tariff exists) is only worthwhile if the night units are at least one third of the total usage of electricity.
  2. A family that uses a lot of electricity and gas, for example with the washing machine on daily and regular use of a dishwasher, will find that a higher standing charge and a lower unit rate is a better tariff.
  3. If you still have a hot water cylinder make sure that you are not leaving the extra switch on which is a top up switch if you run out of hot water. This behaves like a kettle in that it is constantly keeping the water up to temperature and will give you very high bills.
  4. Service your gas boiler at least once a year and if it is making strange noises, cutting out, or not heating the radiators properly, then it needs attention. Check the radiators for cool spots as they may have silted up and insulate your home.
  5. If you have solar panels, investigate storage for your energy. Between the hours of 11 and 2 you have sufficient daylight to be using your own generated power but spread the use so that you don’t put on all the gadgets at the same time.
  6. Is there anyone not yet using LED lights? If a light bulb produces heat and light it is not LED.
  7. Do you leave your mobile phone charger plugged in even when you are not using it? If the plug is warm, you are wasting energy and it is not a safe thing to do. Why not charge your phone when you are in the car or on the train if you can.
  8. My big favourite is a slow cooker for more than casseroles – you can even cook scones in a slow cooker! Because of the way it cooks you can buy cheaper cuts of meat, use up vegetables and create nourishing meals.
  9. Spend one minute less in the shower or turn off the water while shampooing/conditioning your hair and put it back on to rinse off.
  10. If you have to empty water from a tumbler drier, what do you do with the water? In the summer it may be to water plants, but in the winter you can put it back into the drawer of the washing machine, especially if it is still tepid in temperature.