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  • Writer's pictureAyrshire Daily News

Ayr MSP highlights household energy support to beat January chill

As many households struggle with the hangover of festive bills, Ayr MSP Siobhian Brown is

urging residents to check if they are entitled to additional support with household energy

costs.

Pic - Registered Gas Engineer Website

Changes by Ofgem to the energy price cap mean average household bills increased by 5% (£94) on 1 January – at the beginning of what could be the coldest three months of the year.

 

Mrs Brown met with Scottish Gas and its parent company Centrica to discuss the help and support available to households. The supplier, which has committed £100 million to help consumers since the start of the energy crisis, has implemented the biggest support package ever offered to UK energy customers by a supplier and is recruiting 350 new customer service advisors out of its Edinburgh headquarters.


The British Gas Energy Support Fund provides grants of up to £2,000 to thousands of its customers with debt In addition, the British Gas Energy Trust delivers millions in grants, energy efficiency measures, fuel vouchers, and advice to all energy consumers – as well as funding for frontline organisations like Citizens Advice and Money Matters centres. You don’t need to be a Scottish Gas customer to seek support from the British Gas Energy Trust.


Commenting Siobhian Brown MSP said:


“With the energy price cap having increased at the beginning of what could be the coldest three months of the year, many households are struggling with the cost of living. I want to make sure people know the support available to help them and I encourage anyone who is struggling to speak to their energy supplier and organisations such as the British Gas Energy Trust.”


John Downie, Head of Policy & Insight at British Gas Energy Trust, said:


“We understand how lost people can feel if you’re struggling with debt. The Scottish Gas

Energy Support Fund was set up to respond to the increasing cost of living. Through the

fund, thousands of eligible customers with fuel debt of up to £2,000 have been awarded

grants to pay off their debt.”

 

Scottish Gas engineer Julie Dickinson said:


As engineers visiting customer homes, we know households are facing tough times. There

is help available and people should contact their energy supplier to make sure they’re

receiving support – whether that is being added to the Priority Services Register or accessing grants, like those available through the Scottish Gas Energy Trust.


There are several changes you can make around the house to improve energy

efficiency and save costs. Here are our top tips:


1. Bleed your radiators: Air can enter the system and form bubbles at the top of your

radiators, which stops them from working efficiently. If you notice cold spots at the

top of your radiators, switch them off and after they cool, turn a radiator key in the

valve at the top to let the air out.


2. TLC for your boiler: In our experience, people often don’t give much thought to their

boiler until something goes wrong with it – but regular services can prevent

problems from arising at all. Scottish Gas’s Homecare products mean customers can

protect their boilers and have an annual service. It’s essential for keeping the

household going, so it’s well worth looking after. To find out more, visit:


3. Shut out the cold: You wouldn’t leave the back door open when the heating’s on,

but warm air could still be escaping without you realizing – and cold air could be

sneaking in. Draught proofing around your windows and doors can save around £60

per year. Self-adhesive foam strips are easy to fit on windows to prevent draughts,

while draught excluders are perfect if there’s a gap between your door and the floor.

Your keyhole and letterbox can allow cold air into your home. Keyhole covers and

letterbox brush strips are cheap to buy, quick and easy to fit, and will stop those

draughts.


4. Furnish for warmth: Think about where your heat sources are, and make sure your

radiators can do their job properly. Putting your sofa in front of a radiator may keep

the best spot in the house extra toasty, but it will absorb heat that could be warming

the rest of the room. Curtains and rugs have an important part to play as well

because thick material (the thicker the better) prevents heat from being lost through

windows and doors – just don’t forget to open your curtains during the day so that

the sun can do some of the work!


5. Turn off radiators in rooms not in use: It’s important not to spend money heating

spare rooms or other rooms not in use during the winter, so if you know a room isn’t

going to be used, make sure you turn the radiator off and close the door to stop cold

air circulating through the rest of the house. When you do need to use the room,

just turn it back on ahead of time to heat it up.


6. Wrap your pipes up warm: We often come across frozen condensate pipes – which

can burst or crack when the water inside turns to ice. The best solution is to stop the

water inside your pipes from freezing in the first place. Insulating materials are an

easy, cost-effective solution, available from most DIY stores – it will ensure the pipes

don’t lose heat saving an average of £15 on your bills and preventing any costly

repairs.


7. Heat your home, not your walls: Cover a thin sheet of card with tinfoil and place it

behind your radiators (if you're feeling particularly crafty you can make it T-shaped

so it sits on your radiator brackets). It'll reflect the heat into your rooms,

meaning they warm up faster and retain more heat. If DIY isn't your thing, you can

also buy ready-made foil insulation. Households can save around £25 a year doing

this depending on the insulation in their home.


8. Check your thermostat settings: It’s easy to turn the thermostat up when

it's cold but what temperature should your house be? Aim to set your main

room thermostat somewhere between 18°C and 21°C and you can save around 10

percent on your heating bills – an average of £115 a year – by turning it down by 1

degree. It's also a good idea to set your thermostat to one temperature and then use a timer to turn it on and off when you need the heating most. That way you won't

waste excess energy from leaving the heating on too high, for too long.


9. Get your heating right for bedtime. Set your heating to start 15 minutes before you

wake up and turn off 30 minutes before bed. This can save money and even help you

get a better night’s sleep. You can also turn down the heat in any room, not in use.


10. Be energy smart: Unsurprisingly, winter is the peak season for energy usage. Making the most of smart tech like thermostats means you can control your heating on the go

and avoid wasting money on energy you’re not using. For example, if you’re stuck at

work or delayed on the way home, you can use your smartphone to stop the heating

from coming on too early and warming up an empty house. Also, if you have a smart

meter installed, you can see how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence,

helping you to identify where you can make savings.


11. Get the help you’re entitled to: It’s always worth finding out if you’re eligible for

extra assistance with your energy bills, especially before the cold weather sets in.

Face-to-face advice, financial support, and grants up to £1,500 are available from the

British Gas Energy Trust (even if you’re not a British Gas or Scottish Gas customer).

Most suppliers also offer assistance funds to provide grants towards energy costs.”

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