In response to the challenges which continue to cause difficulties for many households, there is a range of advice and help available to keep your home warm, reduce your energy usage and save you money.
It’s important to regularly put your heating on to stop your pipes from freezing and because it can be more expensive to keep starting up and stopping your heating.
Here are some tips from Act On Energy which can help you to make your home as warm as possible, while reducing your energy use and saving you money:
- Turn your thermostat down by 1 degree - most people won’t notice the difference. The ideal room temperature is 18-21 degrees but do consider if this is warm enough for anyone who has a vulnerability. Do it now before you need to switch the heating on. This could save you up to 10% a year on your bill.
- And while we’re on heating….set your timer to come on 15-30 minutes before you need it and switch off 30 minutes before you leave or go to bed.
- Switch to low energy light bulbs. Yes, we know people have been talking about this for years, but it really does work. LEDs use about 90% less energy than standard bulbs. They are more expense to buy – but last up to 12 times longer. Turning off lights in rooms when you don’t need them could save about £25 a year
- Wash your clothes on the lowest heat setting. 90% of a washing machine’s energy is used to heat up the water. Reducing your number of washes by one cycle a week will save about £34 a year. Tumble dryers use a lot of energy so dry your clothes outside on a line.
- Switch appliances off ‘stand-by’ – this could typically save about £65 a year
- Insulate a hot water tank – it will pay for itself within 6 months
- Reduce your shower time – it’s easy to lose track of time so try setting an alarm for 3-4 minutes. You could save about £95 a year
- Thick curtains help to keep the heat in. Keep them tucked behind radiators and pull them at dusk to avoid heat escaping through glass.
- Draught proof your home – check doors, letterboxes, windows, loft hatches and floorboards. Move furniture away from radiators to let warm air circulate.
- Be savvy in the kitchen – only boil the amount of water you need when you need it. When filling the kettle like this you could save £13 a year. Keep a lid on it – trap the heat in your saucepan. Use the dishwasher only when it’s full – and reducing use by one cycle a week could save £17 a year. Turn the oven off a few minutes earlier and use residual heat to finish cooking. Using a microwave will also be cheaper than using the oven. Defrost your fridge and freezer regularly for maximum efficiency (and while we’ve got you…keeping a fridge or freezer door open for just a minute means it’ll take three minutes to cool down again)
We know that the rise in energy costs has left many people worried, but there is help available.
Contact your supplier if you’re struggling to pay your bill or you are in debt. The earlier you contact them, the better. They can help with debt payment plans and help you with managing your ongoing payments. Some also have hardship funds to help people.
Price Cap explained. From 1 October, the Energy Price Guarantee is helping householders with their rising energy costs. It means that a ‘typical’ bill will be around £2,500 a year. But this is not a maximum bill. The £2,500 referred to is based on a typical household usage – so the more energy you use… the more you pay. That’s because the Guarantee limits the amount you can be charged per unit of gas or electricity, it does not put a maximum limit on your bill. So, your exact bill amount will continue to be influenced by how much energy you use.
Energy Bills Support Scheme. The £400 reduction on domestic electricity bills will be paid over six months from October by your electricity supplier. It does NOT need to be paid back. Your supplier will be able to let you know how they are paying the instalments; it may be a reduction in your Direct Debit or a credit to your account – or discount vouchers issued via text, email or post for those with pre-payment meters to be redeemed in the usual way. Be very careful to avoid scams as no household will be asked for bank details at any point.
British Gas Energy Trust Grants are available for customers and non-customers to clear domestic gas and electricity debts owed to any supplier. For further information, visit the British Gas Energy Trust website
Help with your Energy Bills from Ofgem. The energy regulator is working with Citizens Advice and Energy UK to provide advice on how you can find help with your bills.
Act On Energy is working with Solihull Council to provide help to households with:
- Fuel bills, prepayment meters and debt
- Fuel supplies including boiler repairs and replacements, fuel meter top-ups, oil supplies
- Home improvements such as insulation, windows and doors for home-owners up to a value of £10,000, as well as support for private rented sector tenants via a grant to landlords.
For advice and support please ring the free Act On Energy advice line via 0800 988 2881, 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday, or visit the website Act On Energy - Energy Efficiency, Grants & Advice
The Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding (EBSS AF) is providing support of £400 for energy bills without a direct relationship to a domestic electricity supplier.
The scheme is now open to all eligible households until Friday 31 May 2023.
People who will be able to receive support under EBSS AF include:
- care home residents and others in care facilities/sheltered accommodation (wholly or partly self-funded)
- park home residents, houseboats and caravans that can provide proof of address
- social and private tenants who pay for energy through a landlord on a commercial supply
- homes on a heat network/private wire
- off-grid homes
- farmhouses used for wholly domestic purposes
How to apply
If you are eligible for EBSS AF, you will need to fill out a short online form at the GOV.UK website.
If you need help with your application form, please call 0808 175 3287.
Support is available for Solihull households in the form of advice, tips and practical for households, which might be struggling to pay bills and to stay warm during the winter. Grants are also available for:
- Essential food, toiletries and sanitary products
- Winter clothes
- Essential household appliances such as a fridge, freezer, cooker, microwave or bed
- Items to keep the household warm in winter such as heaters, quilts and blankets
- Heating repairs or servicing
- Monetary support to reduce fuel and water debt
For further information please visit the Age UK Solihull website or telephone 0121 704 8080, which is open Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm.
Householders in Solihull who live in energy inefficient properties may be able to benefit from a grant of up to £10,000 to cover the cost of installing a range of energy efficiency improvements to their home.
Measures available to Solihull residents could include:
- External wall insulation (EWI)
- Solar panels
- Door improvements
- Smart heating controls
- Cavity insulation
- Loft insulation
To find out more please visit: Sustainable Warmth Grant webpage.
Emergency help through the Household Support Fund is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions. Financial help and other assistance is available from:
- Winter Fuel Scheme and Act On Energy. For further information ring the free Act On Energy advice line via 0800 988 2881, 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday, or visit the website Act On Energy - Energy Efficiency, Grants & Advice
- Solihull Winter Warmth campaign and Age UK Solihull. For further information please visit the Age UK Solihull website or telephone 0121 704 8080, which is open Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm.
- the Discretionary Crisis Fund, that can provide essential household items for people in urgent need. Please call us 0121 704 8284 so we can assess what help you could get
- Solihull Community Housing via the Emergency Hardship Fund. Further information is available at Financial Difficulties - Solihull Community Housing.