Tips to Save Money

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Here are some ideas about ways that you may be able to save money on essentials, if you have a disability, are elderly, and receive certain benefits, and/or have a low income.

1) Warm Home Discount Scheme

This scheme provides £140 rebate on electricity bills during winter 2014-2015, for people who qualify.

The government has confirmed the scheme through to March 2015, with an investment from energy suppliers of £1.1 billion. Two million low income households should benefit each year.

Check whether you are eligible:

If you receive Pension Credit, you could be eligible for the Warm Home Discount scheme. You definitely qualify, and don’t need to make a claim, if you met these conditions on the qualifying date of 12.07.2014:

• you received only the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (no Savings Credit)
• you are over 75 and you received the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (even if you got Savings Credit)
• your electricity bill is in your name or the name of your partner
• you get electricity from a supplier who is in the scheme (listed below)

You should receive a letter from the government during the winter, confirming the payment. It may ask for additional information (which will be on your electricity bill) in order for the automatic rebate to be made. You can receive the discount even if you have a prepayment or pay-as-you-go meter. Letters are sent out between September and December. If you haven’t received one by then, contact the helpline on 0845 603 9439,
Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm. The closing date for claims for winter 2014/15 is January 30th, 2015 – if you miss the deadline, your claim won’t be accepted.

These are the energy suppliers who are participating in the scheme:

Atlantic, British Gas, Co-operative energy, EDF Energy, E.ON, Equipower (Ebico), Equigas (Ebico), First Utility, Manweb (see ScottishPower), M&S Energy, npower, Sainsbury’s Energy, (see British Gas) Scottish Gas (see British Gas), Scottish Hydro, ScottishPower, Southern Electric, SSE, Swalec and Utility Warehouse.

If you don’t meet the requirements above, you may still qualify. This is where it gets a bit more complicated! The electricity suppliers all have different rules about which people they include in their Broader Group, as it is called, to receive the discount. People on low incomes with a disability or a long-term illness, or those with children, are examples of groups who may well be included.

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2) Affordable Warmth

This scheme replaces the Warm Front Scheme (WFS), and aims to provide free boilers, cavity wall insulation and loft insulation for people who are eligible, living in poorly insulated or inadequately heated homes, whether as owner occupier or tenant of a private sector landlord.

Check whether you are eligible:

If your household receives:
• Child Tax Credit (with earnings less than £15,860)
• State Pension Credit
• Working Tax Credit and you are aged 60 or over, with earnings less than £15,860

or any of these benefits:

• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) that includes a work-related activity or support component, or the enhanced disability premium payable with income related ESA
• Income support
• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (the first 13 weeks of the claim)
• Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
AND one of these:
• a pensioner premium
• a disability or severe disability premium
• disabled child premium
• a child under 16, or up to 20 if they are in full time non-advanced education, normally lives with you

And your house is poorly insulated or inadequately heated.

What happens when you apply?

An Affordable Warmth assessor will visit your home to assess its energy efficiency, free of charge. Even if your home doesn’t qualify for help, the assessment is free, and you will be given advice about assistance from the Green Deal scheme instead.

How much money could you save after improvements?

The savings you can expect will depend a lot on your home, and your current heating system. People in larger, older homes with inefficient heating systems will make the biggest savings after upgrading. But people living in smaller and newer homes could benefit from cost savings too.

Here are some examples of what you might be able to save after energy-saving home improvements:

Cavity wall insulation – up to £140 a year
Loft insulation – up to £180 a year
New boiler – up to £310 a year

Based on figures from the Energy Saving Trust

The cost of Affordable Warmth home improvements is met by the energy providers under the ECO (Energy Companies Obligation).

You can apply on line here

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3) Grants From your Local Council

If your income is low, the local authority may be able to give you a grant for:

• improving your home, including insulation

• if you or a member of your household is disabled, to fit your home with equipment to make life easier

• getting small repair jobs done

You need to contact your local authority to find out how to apply.

Organisations such as Care & Repair, Age Concern or Mencap may be able to help with the paperwork.

If you apply for a grant, don’t start any work before the application is approved.

The council may send someone to inspect the premises – get their ID before you let them in.

Click here to read more about Disabled Facilities Grants

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4) Save Money: Tips to Help Avoid the Scary Fuel Bills…

• Don’t set the thermostat that controls your heating higher than 20°C (68°F). Thermostats are often in silly places, like the entrance hall, so keep an eye on the actual temperature in your living room (keep a thermometer in there). You may find that the temperature there is well over 20°C as the boiler is trying to heat your draughty hall up to the required temperature… Experiment with reducing the temperature on the thermostat until you find the right balance, to keep the room you are actually using warm enough.

• Set your heating system to come on before you get up in the morning, and go off when you go to bed.

• Only turn on the radiator to warm your bedroom before you go to bed – an hour or so should do, depending on the weather outside. Warm your bed as well, with a hot water bottle or an electric blanket.

• Keep your bedroom window closed at night – keeping the bedroom door open will give you sufficient ventilation.

• If you have an open coal fire keep it well filled up – about 3 to 4 inches (70-100mm), and use the air control to make it burn higher or lower.

• Have your chimney swept once a year, so that it burns efficiently and safely. For more tips, you can call the Solid Fuel Association for free on 0800 600 000.

• You can get help with winter home heating bills:

1. Winter Fuel Payment

2. Cold Weather Payment

Budget Schemes

For anyone who is worried about paying the gas or electricity bill, there is a free Home Heat Helpline
which you can call yourself, or on behalf of a relative, friend or patient. The number is 0800 33 66 99
and it is open from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 2pm on Saturdays. The minicom number is 0800 027 2122

The electricity and gas companies have payment schemes which enable people to spread payments more evenly over the year instead of having them peak in winter. Ask your supplier for details.

If you run into problems with paying your gas or electricity bills, let the supplier know quickly before the amount builds up. They’ll want to help find a solution, perhaps by spreading out repayments. They won’t disconnect all-pensioner households in the winter.

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