Advice on cutting fuel bills

Rhona Calder of Duns CAB give out advice on fuel bills at Eyemouth Co-op store along with Michael Moore MP and Graham Bell from Scottish Hydro.

Rhona Calder of Duns CAB give out advice on fuel bills at Eyemouth Co-op store along with Michael Moore MP and Graham Bell from Scottish Hydro.

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The same week it was revealed that 10 per cent of homes in the Borders are entitled to seek some form of assistance with their fuel bills, local MP Michael Moore was in Eyemouth to encourage people to do exactly that.

Mr Moore attended a road show at the Co-op store in the town on Friday organised by Roxburgh and Berwickshire Citizens Advice Bureau as part of Big Energy Week.

Big Energy Week - which ran from January 16-21 - saw CAB advisers throughout the country try to help people spend less on heating and powering their home. This included a series of outreach events visiting 12 local areas across Scotland.

Mr Moore and a member of Southern Hydro Electric community liaison team joined Berwickshire Citizens Advice advisors at the outreach stand, which was based to offer householders free advice, information leaflets and calculations on whether they could save money on fuel bills. The aim of Big Energy Week was to let people know exactly how they can save money by checking their current tariff, switching suppliers and insulating their home.

Citizens Advice Scotland head of policy, Susan McPhee said: “Every day Citizens Advice bureaux across Scotland help people who are struggling to pay their fuel bills.

“In 2010/11 we helped clients with over 10,500, energy issues. Current economic circumstances mean many people are finding it hard to meet rising fuel costs. Through Big Energy Week we wanted to let people know exactly how they can save money by checking their current tariff, switching suppliers and insulating their home.”

The Big Energy Week roadshow and campaign kicked off as new figures from Citizens Advice revealed 35 per cent of people in Scotland are worried they can’t afford their next fuel bill and one in two say energy bills will put a strain on their finances this year.

Throughout Citizens Advice Scotland bureaux advisors also encouraged householders to find out if they are eligible for help.

In Scotland the Big Energy Week survey found that having the heating on less topped the list of what people are doing to cut energy bills (43 per cent), followed by using less electricity (36 per cent). And one in three people in Scotland did not know that energy companies are offering help to insulate their home.

The Citizens Advice research followed new figures recently released by Big Energy Week partner, the freephone advice service Home Heat Helpline (0800 33 66 99), which revealed that 5,100 households in the Borders - 10 per cent of households in the local authority area - are entitled to some form of assistance with their fuel bills but many people don’t know what help is available. That help is worth an average of £250 for each household.

Michael Moore commented: “Here in the Borders, rising fuel bills are stretching household finances and people are looking for ways to save money on their energy bills.  I commend Citizen’s Advice for providing the support and advice that people need to help cut bills and save energy.

 “It was great to be able to attend the event in Eyemouth last Friday and see first-hand the work our local CAB advisors have been doing to raise awareness of this issue and help people save money.

 “I want to encourage Borderers to take action to ensure they are doing all they can to reduce their fuel bills and accessing any support they may be entitled to.”

At www.bigenergyweek.org.uk you can get advice on how to cut your fuel bill and helpful contact telephone numbers and links.

Big Energy Week encourages you to take the following steps to try and manage your fuel bills: contact your supplier to check you are on the best tariff and payment method for you; visit an accredited switching website to see if you could get your energy cheaper elsewhere; insulate the walls and the loft of your home to save on average around £120 per year; check you are not missing out on any benefits or tax credits that could up your income; turning off lights and switching appliances off at the wall when they are not needed - turning your thermostat down 1°C alone could cut your heating bill by £60 on average.