Local MP Jo Swinson is encouraging people to call a free helpline to find out what assistance is available for energy bills.
Jo was speaking after new research revealed that around 2700 households in East Dunbartonshire are entitled to help with their energy costs. Nationally, more than one in ten UK households are eligible for help.
The Home Heat Helpline (0800 33 66 99) is a free, impartial and confidential service that connects people and families on low incomes and those in poor health with support which is worth an average of £160. The help available includes grants for insulation, new boilers, discount and rebate schemes.
Commenting Jo said:
"Many people don't realise what support is available. Anyone in East Dunbartonshire who is concerned about staying warm should call the Home Heat Helpline and seek advice.
"I would also ask people to look out for neighbours, friends or relatives who may be in difficulty and make sure that they are aware of the Home Heat Helpline at 0800 33 66 99 or at homeheathelpline.org.uk."
People can call the Home Heat Helpline and speak to one of the friendly advisers who will provide advice on reducing energy bills. You can also access the service online by visiting www.homeheathelpline.org.uk where a new Energy Checker will help to show if you are entitled to help.
Christine McGourty from the Home Heat Helpline also advises people to think about what they can do around the home to reduce their energy consumption:
"As the weather gets colder and households turn on their heating, now is the ideal time to remind people that lots of help is available to keep warm, and that the Home Heat Helpline is there to assist them. We're urging anyone on a low income, older people, families with young children and those with long-term health conditions to call the Home Heat Helpline to claim the free help they are entitled to in reducing their bills."
There are also some other simple steps people can take in reducing their energy. For example:
- turning your thermostat down by 1°C could cut your heating bills by up to 10 per cent and save you around £100 a year.
- turn radiators down in rooms which you only use occasionally
- switch your lights off when you're not using them
- turn appliances like TVs and phone chargers off at the wall rather than leaving them on standby when they're not being used
- replace normal light bulbs with energy efficient ones
- regularly defrost your freezer to make sure it's operating at full efficiency
- draw curtains over windows at night to provide insulation for the room
- move furniture away from radiators and heaters to allow heat to circulate around the room
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.
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.
In addition, the Home Heat Helpline is able to direct calls – at no cost to the caller – to a number of specialised services including Warm Front, Consumer Focus, Energy Saving Trust Advice Centres (EST), benefits teams at DWP and Home Improvement Agencies (including Care & Repair).
The New Policy Institute (NPI) was commissioned by the Home Heat Helpline to estimate the number of vulnerable households who are eligible for free CERT home insulation grants and other free help from their energy supplier in October 2012.