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Save on your utility bills

>There are lots of ways you can save money on your energy and water bills. This section details how.

Energy saving tips- the best way to lower your energy bills is by using less energy

Financial help available- make sure you're getting all the financial benefits you're eligible for

Are you paying too much?- learn how to read your meter to ensure you're not being overcharged

Getting the best deal - make sure you're on the cheapest energy tariffs available to you

Water saving tips- reap the financial benefits of saving water

Did you know?

We have an Energy Advisor, here to help you save money on your energy bills. If you would like any help with the information on this page, please call our Customer Service Centre and ask to speak to them.

Energy saving tips

By saving energy you can save money on your energy bill.

Download our energy saving tips!

Energy saving tips

Download advice on appliances

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Financial help available

You may qualify to receive some money to help you pay your fuel bill. In this section we've tried to include as many sources of help as possible. You can double-check if you're eligible for any government-backed schemes at www.gov.uk/energy-grants-calculator.

Winter fuel payment

The winter fuel payment is paid automatically to people who are getting the state pension. Depending on your situation, you will receive between £100 and £300. You should receive the payment by Christmas.

Cold weather payment

The cold weather payment is an automatic payment made to those who qualify after seven consecutive days when the average temperature has been or is forecasted to be 0°C or below. Each payment is £25 and is paid the same way as your other benefits. You may qualify if you are in receipt of any of the following benefits:

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker's Allowance (Income-based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (Income related)

Warm Home Discount Scheme

In addition to the government’s Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payment, there is another source of financial support to help vulnerable people pay their energy bills which comes from the energy companies themselves. It is called the ‘Warm Home Discount’ and runs each year until 2015. This has replaced the various 'social tariffs' which were on offer. The Warm Home Discount separates households into two groups – the ‘Core’ group and the ‘Broader’ group.

The Core Group

Support under the Core group is targeted at older, poorer pensioner households. Details of which households qualify under the Core group are in the table below:

Year

You are eligible if you are…

Annual Discount

2013-14

Under 75 and only getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (you won’t qualify if you also get Saving Credit); or

75 or over and getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (even if you receive the Saving Credit)

£135

2014-15

All households in receipt of Guarantee and Savings Credit elements of Pension Credit.

£140

If you qualify for the discount, you’ll get a letter telling you one of the following:

  • you don’t have to apply for the discount – you’ll get it automatically
  • you must apply for the discount before the deadline – the letter will tell you why and how

Letters are sent between September 2013 and January 2014. Contact the helpline if your letter doesn’t arrive by February 2014. (Warm Home Discount Scheme Helpline, 0845 603 9439, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)

The money is not paid directly to you, it appears as a discount on your electricity bill. If you use a prepayment meter, your electricity company will notify you of how they will pay the money (for example, they may send out a voucher which can be used to top up the meter).

The Broader Group

Support under the Broader group is targeted at other vulnerable households. Each energy company has defined a set of eligibility criteria which are outlined below. If you think you are eligible, you will need to contact your energy company and join. It is important to note that each energy company has set a cap on the number of households which can enter the Broader Group so it is best to apply as early as soon as you can once applications open, which is usually after April of each year. It is also important to note that you will need to reapply to join the broader group each year.

The following suppliers are members of the Warm Home Discount scheme. Click on your energy company's logo to find out if you may be eligible to join their Broader groups.

Atlantic logo British Gas edf energy e on
first utility M&S Energy npower logo Sainsbury's Energy - Working together with British Gas
Scottish Hydro Scottish Power Southern Electric logo SSE logo Utility Warehouse

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Struggling to pay your utility bills? In debt to your energy provider?

Your energy provider may be able to help!

If you're struggling to pay your bills, speak to your energy provider. They may be able to offer you a better tariff to go on, or can give you advice on how to manage your energy bills.

If you are in debt, your provider may be able to draw down funds from a trust fund to help you clear your debts. The following providers have a trust fund specifically for this (click on the company logo to find out more).

EDF Energy Trust - this provides support for utility debts and other priority household debts eg, rent arrears edf energy
Brisitsh Gas Energy trust - this provides support for utility debts and other priority household debts eg, rent arrears British Gas

Npower Energy Fund - this provides support for utility debts .

If your provider isn't listed above, it is worth doing some further research to see if they offer anything similar.

n power

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Am I paying too much?

The utility companies are obliged to take a meter reading at least once every two years. Some take readings as often as every quarter. This shows up as an 'actual' reading on your bill. It is important to double-check that this reading is correct so that you don't pay too much or too little.

Often, your bill will be based on an 'estimate'. It is important to check your meter and assess whether or not the estimate is fair, otherwise you may pay too much or too little. If you pay too little it means you will have to 'catch up' with your payments at a later date.

You can take a reading at any point and submit it to your energy provider. Submitting meter readings regularly ensures you are billed accurately.

So, how do you take a meter reading?

Take a look at the following videos or, if you prefer illustrated instructions, click on the following links:

How to read an electricity meter

How to read a gas meter

How to read a water meter

Unable to take a reading?

If you are physically unable to take a meter reading, or find the bill difficult to read, you may be able to join your energy provider's Priority Service Register. This is a special service for customers who are of pension age, diabled, suffering from a chronic illness or have a visual or hearing impairment. The Priority Service Register is available from all electricity and gas suppliers (as part of their license obligations). Among the services on offer are:

  • Bills available in large print and Braille as well as talking bills
  • Meter reading service
  • Meters moved to an accessible location for free (if possible)
  • Controls and adaptors for appliances
  • Bill nominee scheme
  • Priority in an emergency, this could include providing aletrante heating and cooking facilities in the event of a disconnection.

If you think you may be eligible then you need to contact your supplier directly to register.

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Getting the best deal

Electricity and gas

It is recommended that you check whether you're on the best tariff on an annual basis. If you've been with your energy supplier for more than a year, there's a good chance you're no longer on the best tariff. There are lots of different energy providers out there, and they each offer many different tariffs. Luckily there are several comparison sites which can do all searching and comparing for you. Follow the Money Advice Service's guide to switching:

Switching gas and electricity suppliers - the basics

What you need to start is:

  • the name of your current supplier and the tariff you are on
  • an idea of how much energy you use, preferably in kWh (Kilowatt hours) – you can find this on your bill, or give your supplier a call - if you’re not sure, knowing how much you spend will probably be enough

Then just follow the simple steps below.

  • Step 1 - Check whether it's a good time to switch.
  • Step 2 - Choose a comparison site.
  • Step 3 - Decide if it's worth fixing your energy tariff.
  • Step 4 - Follow our switching tips.
  • Step 5 - Check the supplier's customer service track record.

Step 1 - check whether it's a good time to switch

Energy prices rise and fall depending on the market. Martin Lewis over at MoneySavingExpert.com keeps an eye on this, so check his switching indicator to find out.

Find out if it is time to switch on the MoneySavingExpert website

Don’t get stuck with penalty charges. Make sure you know whether your contract ties you in for a set time, and what the penalty is if you break it.

Step 2 - choose a comparison site

Some comparison sites are more reliable than others. Look out for sites that adhere to Ofgem's Confidence Code. This is designed to make sure you get an impartial and reliable service. The following have been approved as of March 2013.

Always try a handful of different sites – they may give different results.

Cashback and rewards from comparison sites

Get a little something extra by picking a comparison site that’s running a special reward offer. Some offer cashback rewards for switching through them. These are paid into your account a little while after you switch (usually within 3-4 months). With others, rewards might be things like a crate of wine or Amazon vouchers.

These offers change all the time – MoneySavingExpert.com keeps a list of the latest deals.

See cashback and reward deals on the MoneySavingExpert website

Step 3 - Decide if it's worth fixing your energy tariff

Getting a fixed tariff means the price you pay for energy won’t change during the term of the contract. It’s good if you’re worried about whether you could afford price hikes – you know what you’ll pay in advance, so you can plan for it.

If you don’t mind slightly unpredictable bills – and it looks like energy prices are likely to stay the same or fall – then there isn’t much reason to fix your tariff. You can read more about the pros and cons of fixing in the section ‘Fixing FAQ’ on the MoneySavingExpert website.

Read about tariff fixing on the MoneySavingExpert website

Step 4 - follow our switching tips

  • Choose an online tariff. With these you manage your account online and supply your own meter readings. It saves the supplier the cost of sending out someone to do it – and that saving gets passed on to you.
  • Pay by Direct Debit, it tends to be cheaper.
  • You usually get a better deal if you buy both your gas and electricity from the same supplier (unless you use prepayment meters), this is known as 'dual fuel'. If you only buy electricity, you are still entitled to go on a 'dual fuel' rate.
  • Get help if you’re unsure. If you come across something you don’t understand, try finding answers on the Consumer Focus website. Someone may well have asked your question already, and if not you can post it yourself.Ask your question at Consumer Focus energy questions

Step 5 - check the supplier's customer service track record

All energy companies sell you exactly the same gas and electricity, so aside from price the only real difference between them is the customer service they offer. Some have a great track record while others have a reputation for being difficult and unhelpful.

For a good measure of customer service, Consumer Focus counts the number of times customers have had so much trouble that they’ve gone to an independent organisation for help. You can check the scores on their website.

Check customer service scores on the Consumer Focus website

For information on any other aspect of energy bills, such as what your rights are if you are in debt, please visit Consumer Focus's energy questions page.

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Water saving tips

Download our water saving tips!

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Water saving tips competition

We've got lots of great of water saving tips on our website and in the latest edition of Link. So now that we've told you our ideas, we'd like to hear yours.

All you need to do is email in your suggestions and the five best tips will be published in the Autumn edition of Link and will each win a £25 shopping voucher.

How to enter

You can submit your suggestions by e-mail (isabel.wreford@viridianhousing.co.uk or post (Isabel Wreford, Colwell House, 376 Clapham Road, London, SW9 9AR) along with you name, phone number and address. The five best tips will be published in the next edition of Link and will each win a £25 shopping voucher.

There is no word limit. Our Energy Advisor, Isabel, will judge the entries, based on their simplicity and water saving potential. The judge's decision is final.

In debt to your water company?

Like some of the energy companies, some of the water companies have trust funds which may be able to help you clear your debts. Click on the logos to find out more.

Affinity Water Trust Customers can apply to receive grants to help them clear their water debts and other household debts, eg, energy debts.
Anglian Water Customers can apply to receive grants to clear their water debts.

South East Water Helping Hand

Customers can apply to receive grants to clear their water debts.

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