Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Use the summer for a warmer winter

Dear Mr Jones, We now have the statistics for the Home Heat Helpline (0800 33 66 99) for last winter which shows that more than 44,000 people called for assistance. As you may know, the Home Heat Helpline is a free, not-for-profit phone line set up to help energy customers who are having difficulties with their fuel bills or problems keeping warm.

But recent research shows that nearly half of all those who are eligible for some help with their energy, whether it’s for changing their boiler, insulating their homes or getting a discount, do not apply. This is because they did not know that the help was available or thought that it did not apply to them. In addition, people mostly think about getting work done when it’s cold. Taking action now will help them keep warmer and save money when winter comes.

We think there are two areas where you could really help make a difference. The first is that, as you are in contact with a wide range of households, individuals and groups, we would ask you to help us in getting the message out to the 50% of people who are eligible and not applying. And the second is to make people aware that taking action this spring and summer (e.g. sorting out the boiler and the insulation) will make their homes warmer next winter and would be a really good step to take.

If you would like any information, or leaflets and booklets with energy-saving advice for your constituents or press releases, then please let me know and we would be very happy to help.

Yours sincerely
Angela Knight CBE
Chief Executive Officer
T 020 7747 2930 W www.energy-uk.org.uk t @energyukcomms
Energy UK Charles House, 5-11 Regent Street, London SW1Y 4LR

Energy UK: Five things to do this summer to save on next winter’s energy bill

While more than 44,000 people called the Home Heat Helpline this winter for help with their bills and leaky homes, recent research, commissioned by the Home Heat Helpline, shows that nearly half of those eligible for help didn’t claim.*

“Now that we at last are seeing some sun, this is absolutely the right time to get ready to keep warm next winter and to start saving money. Don’t wait until it’s cold to see if you’re eligible. Claim what is yours.” said Angela Knight, Chief Executive of Energy UK.

“People tend to ring the helpline when it’s cold but if they ring today then the help that they are eligible for, particularly in getting their home insulated, can be done this summer and ready for the winter rather than the other way round. We are also calling on all consumer groups and Government to help in getting the crucial message out that by putting steps in place this spring and summer your home can be warmer next winter, and you could have savings in your pocket.

“Whatever the energy problem is, people should get in contact with their energy company right now, or ring the Home Heat Helpline if they prefer.”

With next winter possibly only five months away, Energy UK is urging people to start planning NOW with five simple summer savers.

1. Call the Home Heat Helpline - find out what help you might be eligible for and how to save money on your energy bill.

2. Apply for your Warm Home Discount – all the major energy suppliers give £135 off to customers who are struggling with their bills and are over 70, living with long-term disabilities or bringing up young children at home. Avoid the rush and apply now – most applications are open.

3. Get a free home energy check - Every supplier will be able to offer help and advice on what you can do today to save next winter – and most will do it for free. Make sure you talk to your energy supplier about your own home and circumstances.

4. Fix the leaks - summer is the perfect time to install insulation in your home to ensure you are warm through the winter. Companies offer to do this work for free or at heavily subsidised rates for some customers and the Home Heat Helpline can help you find out if you might qualify.

5. Spring clean your boiler – while its warm and the boiler takes a welcome break make sure your boiler is as efficient as it can be. If your boiler is 15 years old or more it might be time for a replacement. Boilers account for around 55% of what you spend in a year on energy bills, so it’s worth doing if you need to.

The helpline can be reached on 0800 33 66 99. People can call to speak to one of the friendly advisors or visit www.homeheathelpline.org.uk, where you can now chat online to advisers if you’d rather not call.

In the last year, over 40,000 people have called the Home Heat Helpline to claim assistance with their fuel bills.

Home Heat Helpline: 0800 33 66 99 or www.homeheathelpline.org.uk

Follow the Home Heat Helpline on Twitter for added advice and updates @HHHelpline

ENDS

Notes to editors
For further information please contact the press office on 0207 747 2941/2946

The Home Heat Helpline (0800 33 66 99) is a free, impartial and confidential service that connects people on low incomes or in poor health with financial help and practical advice on managing their energy bills. People can also access the service online by visiting www.homeheathelpline.org.uk

The Home Heat Helpline can advise people on:

· rebates: money off their energy bills

· how to save energy, including what grants are available for things like insulation and new boilers

· practical advice on energy efficiency at home

· advice on other sources of help (such as debt advice) or benefits

The Helpline is managed by Energy UK and funded by the major energy suppliers. The service is supported by a range of organisations including Age UK; Citizens Advice; National Energy Action; Family Action and Energy Action Scotland. In addition, the Home Heat Helpline can direct calls – at no cost to the caller – to a number of specialised services including Warm Front, Consumer Focus, Energy Saving Trust Advice Centres, benefits teams at DWP and Home Improvement Agencies (including Care & Repair).

The industry’s disconnection safety net is also in place to ensure that vulnerable customers will not be cut off even if they are unable to pay their bill.

The Warm Home Discount scheme is available for customers who take their electricity from British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, SSE, ScottishPower or First Utility. The scheme gives rebates to customers during the winter. Each energy supplier uses different eligibility criteria but customers are most likely to qualify if they are struggling with their bills and are over 70, living with long-term disabilities or bringing up young children at home.

* Censuswide was commissioned by the Home Heat Helpline in January 2013 to conduct research into public awareness of the assistance available with fuel bills. Nearly two thousand (1,951) people who are likely to be eligible for some form of assistance were questioned. Among people surveyed who were definitely entitled to help with their fuel bills, only 49% thought it was aimed at them. Even fewer people (38%) had contacted their energy supplier to ask about what help is available. When asked why, more than a third of respondents (39%) said it was because they thought it wasn’t aimed at them.