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13 November 2014

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You are in: Shropshire > Credit Crunch > Save money and stay warm this winter

Gas flame

Stay warm this winter

Save money and stay warm this winter

More than 25,000 households in Shropshire live in 'fuel poverty' according to Government figures. With so many people struggling to heat their homes, find out what you can do to save money and what help is available.

According to the Keep Shropshire Warm campaign, around 25,000 households in the county are spending over 10% of their annual income heating their homes - putting them among the UK's 'fuel poor'.

As many as one in six homes in Britain could be living in fuel poverty, according to Consumer Focus. The organisation, which until recently was known as Energywatch, estimates that more than four million households in the UK are spending at least 10% of their income on heating.

The government suggests three main factors lead to fuel poverty:

  • The energy efficiency of your home, and whether you could save money from installing better heating/insulation systems.
  • The cost of heating your home. More people find it a struggle to heat their homes adequately when gas and electricity prices go up. Through 2008 (until the end of November), British consumers experienced average price hikes of 45% for gas and 27% for electricity. 
  • Households' income is inevitably a major factor. As a result the government has introduced a series of measures to tackle pensioner poverty in particular .
Electricity meter

Electricity meter

In 2007 12 million people aged 60 and over received Winter Fuel Payments. This year one-off payments of £50 are being awarded to households that include people aged 60-79, and £100 for anyone 80 or over. There's also been an increase in the Cold Weather Payment from £8.50 to £25 per week.    

Help available in Shropshire

The Keep Shropshire Warm campaign was set up in 2007 with government funding, to identify people who are struggling to afford to heat their homes properly. It's managed by Marches Energy Agency and a team of experts offer advice on how you can make your home more energy efficient and what financial help might be available.

For example, you're entitled to free loft and cavity wall insulation if you're over 70 and  pay council tax to a Shropshire Council (excluding Telford & Wrekin). If you receive benefits you might be entitled to certain grants or discounts, and everyone can get free advice on being more energy efficient.

Steve Windmill from the Marches Energy Agency says they've helped around 5,000 homes this year alone: "At this moment in time, credit crunch and cold weather, we're taking around about 100-150 calls a week, mostly about insulation."

Insulation in the home

Loft insulation

Contractors employed by the agency are insulating 80-90 lofts a week as well as cavity walls. The grants are provided by an energy supplier and the Marches Energy Agency works on their behalf.

If you want more information to find out whether you might be eligible for a grant or discount in getting your home insulated, you can contact Keep Shropshire Warm on 01743 277123 or visit the website.

Telford & Wrekin's Affordable Warmth team operate a similar service. For advice or information on what grants are available, contact the freephone number 0800 512012.

DIY tips for a warmer home

As well as the core issues such as double glazing, loft insulation and cavity wall insulation, there are a number of simple changes you can make to ensure your home is as warm as possible, ensuring you save money on your fuel bills.

  • You can buy draught proofing strips from all major hardware stores to fit your windows and doors.
  • You can use draught excluders under exterior and interior doors to prevent heat escaping and draughts from coming in.
  • By fitting a draught excluder to your letterbox you can keep out draughts and keep in the heat.
  • If you haven't got double glazing you can use certain sealing products to create a basic form of double glazing.
  • Buy radiator and wall panels that can help insulate your home and make it warmer.
  • By turning your thermostat to the recommended level of 18-21 degrees you can benefit from your heating system working most efficiently.
  • Use timers for your heating and lighting.
  • Check your energy tariff to find out if you're getting the best deal from your utility company. Swapping providers can sometimes save you money on your fuel bills.
  • Insulating paint can be added to normal household paint to increase the thermal retention of your walls.
  • You can insulate the hot water pipes in your home to prevent any heat being lost from water in them.
  • You can also insulate hot water tanks to prevent heat being lost which will lead to more fuel being used to keep the water warm.

The government has pledged to eradicate fuel poverty in homes where there are children, elderly, sick or disabled people by 2010, and end it completely in other homes by 2016.

last updated: 04/12/2008 at 12:22
created: 03/12/2008

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