If you are self-isolating or having to simply work from home during this period, it is understandable that use of gas, electric and water will be more than usual.
Some energy suppliers have provided information on how they can support their customers during this tough time, where costs for energy will be higher, but where incomes could be lower or more restricted due to individual circumstances.
What support can energy firms provide right now?
(Each case will be reviewed on an individual basis, although the support particularly applies to vulnerable customers)
(A spokesperson has advised that it wouldn't rule out giving the delay to both people who had self-isolated, fearing they might have contracted the virus or those people who were simply working from home)
Where you may be struggling – for example if you are off work or on shorter hours because of coronavirus – Npower will also review how much you are able to pay, considering your individual circumstances.
Other prepayment energy suppliers are currently working through guidance. Once these firms have given a clear outline on how they can support their customers during this difficult time we will update our information.
However in the meantime it is always worth noting the following:
No matter which supplier you're with, it's worth getting in touch if you end up in financial difficulties.
If you're in self-isolation and can't top up your prepayment meter, you should contact your supplier as soon as possible.
Energy bills – here’s how to save money
Switch energy supplier
If you haven’t switched suppliers in the last year, you may have been moved to an expensive out of contract tariff. This might be a good time to review your energy supplier, and switch.
Useful comparison sites:
The Money Advice Service says the average amount of money saved by switching suppliers is £300 a year.
Change your bulbs
Switching all your existing light bulbs to more energy efficient LED bulbs will lower your energy costs.
These bulbs are just as good as their older counterparts in terms of light - but last longer and do not use as much energy.
If the average household replaced all of their bulbs with LEDs, it would cost about £100 and save about £35 a year on bills.
Get into better habits
Little changes to your routine can save you money in the long run.
The Energy Saving Trust, an independent organisation, which aims to help people reduce their energy usage, has a list of quick wins to help you chip away at those bills.
For example, spending one minute less in the shower each day could save you £7 a year.
Alternatively, switching appliances off properly, rather than just onto standby, could save you £30 a year.
In addition, doing one less wash a week could save you £5 a year.
Other small changes include remembering to turn the lights off when you leave a room, or turning the television off when you are not watching it - this will save you a few pounds a year.
On their own, these changes do not amount to much - but it all adds up.
Draught proof windows and doors
Making sure your house is draught free will help to keep warm air in and cold air out.
For windows, you can buy draught-proofing strips to stick around the window frame.
For doors leading to the outside, you can try a purpose-made cover for your keyhole and a letterbox flap or brush to stop blasts of cold air coming in.
You could also install a draught excluder at the bottom of the door, and plug gaps around the edges.
Taking measures like this could save you around £20 in energy costs.
We are aware that due to the location of our properties, some being in a rural area, that other fuels are used as opposed to gas, for example, oil, gas bottles etc.
Therefore, where support is needed for the purchase of such fuels, we advise making contact with the following organisations:
Shropshire Council Welfare Support Team – 0345 678 9078
(Emergency gas/electric top-ups can be applied for through this team)
Shropshire Rural Communities Charity - 01743 360641
The Marches Energy Agency also provide advice on making homes warmer and cheaper to run.
Contact the Marches Energy Agency for more information on 01743 246007
Severn Trent Water
Having worked in partnership with Severn Trent Water over a number of years, we can provide the following information based on what they can provide, if you are encountering financial difficulty as a result of the current pandemic:
The ‘Watersure’ scheme can help if your income is low and you use a lot of water. If your application is successful, your bill is capped. That way, managing your account and bills will be easier. The scheme is for customers on a water meter receiving benefits, and either have three or more children under 19 years old, or a medical condition requiring extra use of water.
If you receive Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Pension Credit or Universal Credit we can take small deductions directly from your benefits. The advantages of paying in this way are:
The Severn Trent Trust Fund may also be able to help. As an independent charity they provide grants to customers who find themselves in extreme financial hardship.
If you’re struggling to pay, you could access the Big Difference Scheme which could offer you a reduction of up to 90% off the average bill for the year.
For more details on any of these schemes please give Severn Trent a call on 0345 604 3772 or visit www.stwater.co.uk