Thursday 11th November
As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column, this week we focus on how to keep your energy costs down.
I need some help with keeping my energy bills down. I’ve been working from home since lockdown, and have been told I’ll not be back in the office before January at the earliest. Now the weather is starting to turn, I’m freezing sitting here all day in front of my computer! With energy costs going up, I’m worried if I turn the heating up my bills are going to go through the roof!
Firstly, even with the current uncertainty in the energy market, it is still worth seeing if you can get a better deal by changing your energy supplier. However, as well as comparing prices, it’s a good idea to check the customer service record of a company before switching. Citizens Advice has a price comparison tool available at: https://energycompare.citizensadvice.org.uk/ , and our star rating assesses the customer service records of the biggest companies. Because many energy companies are struggling, you won’t find as many tariffs as normal. If you don’t find a better tariff than the one you’re on it’s probably better to wait until deals are available again.
However, if you energy company has gone bust, don’t switch tariff or supplier until your account is moved to the new supplier. You might find it harder to get any money you’re owed if you switch before this happens. You will also then be able to accurately compare the tariff your new supplier has placed you on with other deals on the market.
There are also everyday things that can help, such as making sure televisions and other devices are switched off and not left on standby; washing clothes on a lower temperature; and only filling the kettle with the water you need.
You’re right in another way about bills going through the roof – and the walls. One way of cutting costs in the long term is to invest in good insulation – or ask your landlord to do so if you rent you home.
If your pay is close to the national minimum wage, the extra costs of working from home could be counted as a pay cut and bring you below the legal level. Talk to your manager or HR department, or your union representative if that feels more comfortable.
Finally, your employer should pay for any costs connected to your health and safety – such as a suitable chair for work at a computer. It’s also worth taking a look at your employer’s expenses policy as you may be able to claim for a number of other things, such as printer ink or telephone line rental.
For more information and advice visit: www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Look out for our column next week when we focus on support with Council Tax.
The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk