Energy-saving tips: 10 little-known ways to lower your bills

It is claimed that Annual energy bills will rise next year by £120 to a new record of more than £1400. According to the energyhelpline.com, this would take place if other suppliers followed SSE’s lead and increased prices by 9pc.

With household energy bills at an all-time high, it makes financial sense to know your consumer energy rights. Knowing about proper compensation, and where to turn for help if things go wrong, can not only save you a lot of time and hassle but also help you cut costs drastically.

We look at the top 10 things you did not know you were entitled to from your energy firm.

Get compensation for wasted time

You don’t have to wait in all day for a meter reader or engineer. If your energy firm needs to visit you at home, you are entitled to a two-hour appointment slot – and, should they not turn up, you are entitled to compensation of £22 for a gas or electricity appointment or £44 for both.

Know the backdate limit

If you have had your bills recalculated because of a mistake by the energy provider, there is a limit to how much they can ask you to pay up. If your usage has been underestimated, the supplier can backdate your bills for only up to 12 months. However, to avoid even a year’s worth of charges, get into the habit of providing regular meter readings to ensure you always pay the right amount.

Know your rights with price rises

If your energy provider is putting up its prices, it is required to give you 30 days’ notice and cannot implement the increase if you tell it within 15 working days that you’re leaving. And despite what the name suggests, those on fixed-rate tariffs cannot be charged an exit penalty if they switch within this time.

Payments for blackouts

If consumers lose power, they can claim compensation for power cuts from their energy distributor, rather than the supplier. If your power is out for more than 18 hours you are entitled to £54, and £27 for each additional 12 hours without power. Similarly, those who have four or more power cuts lasting three hours or more in a year should receive £54. To get your refund, contact your energy provider.

Get extra help

Customers of pensionable age, or who are disabled or chronically ill, can get extra help through their supplier’s Priority Services Register. This includes free quarterly meter readings, bills in large print or Braille or bills sent to a friend or relative, and a free annual gas safety check for those in receipt of means-tested benefits.

Know the switching timetable

If you switch energy supplier in order to ensure that you are on the most competitive tariff, it should take no longer than five weeks from start to finish. This includes the two-week cooling-off period and three weeks for the switch. Keep in mind that suppliers have also committed to make switching hassle-free, so if there are any problems it is their responsibility to sort it out, not the customer’s.

Get back control

If you have had your energy supply switched to another provider without your permission, you are entitled to compensation of £250. You are also entitled to compensation if you can prove you were deliberately misled by a sales person.

Know where to get help with debt

If you get into debt, your supplier must agree repayments that are affordable for you. Some suppliers, such as British Gas, EDF and npower, also have trust funds that can help you to settle debts or other essential costs. To find out more or request an application form for help, contact Charis Grants at charisgrants.com or on 01733 421060.

Find free insulation

Loft insulation can save you an average of £120 on your annual energy bill, but costs as much as £300 to install. But just because you can’t afford this type of energy saving doesn’t mean you need to miss out. For those on low incomes, many suppliers will offer free loft and cavity wall insulation with cash incentives. For instance, E.On and EDF are offering incentives of £100 and £200 respectively to those on low incomes who register for free insulation.

Remember your cooling-off period

Have you switched your tariff only to have a cheaper one launched just days later? Or maybe you felt pressurised or put on the spot by a telesales agent? Not to worry, it is not too late to change your mind. All consumers who switch energy supplier are entitled to a 14-day cooling-off period during which they can switch back without incurring any charges.

 

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