Throughout 2016, PECT’s Healthy Homes project is working with residents in Peterborough and Fenland to tackle fuel poverty. When a household struggles to pay for adequate heating due to a combination of low income, high energy costs and poor insulation, it’s classed as being in fuel poverty.
It’s a big problem, affecting about 8% of homes in Fenland and 10% in Peterborough, and has real consequences not only on a household’s finances but also on health. The impact of cold homes is estimated to cost the NHS £1.5 billion and accounts for more than 18,000 premature deaths each year.
If you live in Peterborough or Fenland, you can get in touch with the Healthy Homes team on 01733 866440 to book a home visit, which covers changing tariff, tips to cut energy costs and home improvements such as insulation and boiler replacements for eligible households. However, everyone can benefit from some simple tips to cut energy bills, boosting income and health, while cutting carbon emissions:
1. Loyalty doesn’t always pay! You could save hundreds of pounds by switching to a different tariff or supplier. You can compare prices in a few minutes using uSwitch.
2. Check if you’re eligible for any heating benefits such as the Warm Home Discount, Cold Weather Payments or Winter Fuel Payments.
3. If you have an oil boiler, consider joining a buying group to cut costs.
4. Review how you pay for your bills – most suppliers will offer a discount for paying by direct debit or using internet billing, usually around £75 per year.
5. Small behaviour changes can have a big effect – reducing tumble drier use by one load per week can save £55 per year and using a washing up bowl for dishes rather than filling the sink can cut your annual energy bill by £30. There are more tips to reduce energy usage on the Energy Saving Trust’s website.
6. Check if your bills are correct – are the costs based on actual or estimated meter readings (a letter ‘A’ next to the reading indicates an actual reading; ‘E’, estimated; ‘C’, reading made by the customer)? Accurate meter readings are really important to avoid over or under paying, which could lead to a big credit or debt over time. For more information about understanding energy bills, check out uSwitch’s guide.
7. Upgrade to more efficient appliances and insulation. Healthy Homes might be able to help with this if you live in Peterborough or Fenland. Even DIY measures such as loft insulation can slash costs – a 3-bedroom semi-detached house will typically save £140 per year, with a payback period of two years.
8. Consider investing in renewable energy sources. At the moment, Peterborough City Council residents have the opportunity to apply for free solar panels – find out more on the Council's website.
Emma Taylor is the Healthy Homes Project Support Officer.