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How will I cope with my bills?

A local expert from Citizen’s Advice answers a question from the public. This Month: How to cope with the rising energy bills.

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Q: My energy supplier recently went under and the new tariff I’ve been put on is far more than I used to pay. I’ve heard that energy prices are set to rise further and I’m not sure I can afford it. What help can I get? What changes can I make around the house to help reduce my outgoings this winter?”

A: The cost of energy is very high at the moment and it is causing people to worry. Normally we would suggest switching to a better deal but the situation is very difficult at the moment and there aren’t that many good deals out there. However there are still ways you can keep your bills down.

Small Things

Everyday changes can help, such as making sure that electronic devices such as games consoles are switched off and not left on standby, washing clothes at a lower temperature and only filling the kettle with the water you need. Turning down your thermostat by one degree and spending a minute less in the shower can save you £££ on your energy (and water) bills. The government’s Simple Energy Advice website has lots of similar tips.

Through the roof

You’re right in another way about bills going through the roof – and the walls and windows too. If you can afford it, one way of cutting costs long-term is to invest in good insulation. If you are renting, you could ask your landlord to do this. You can get more information from Healthy Homes Dorset.

You may also be able to get help with the costs of insulation via the Energy Company Obligation scheme. Contact your energy supplier for more information.

Depending on your financial situation, there may be some support available for helping to pay your energy bills. For example, if you claim pension credit or other means-tested benefits, you may be eligible for the Warm Home Discount, which cuts £140 per year from your energy bills. Check the government website to find out if you are eligible to apply.

Support fund coming
The government recently announced a £500m fund to support households this winter. The fund is going to be

distributed locally via Dorset Council but at time of writing there is no specific detail about eligibility or the application process so keep a look out for announcements about how this might help you.

You can always call the national Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 for free advice about energy costs or contact Citizens Advice in Dorset on 0800 144 88 48.

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