A campaign to help people in rural areas save money on their energy bills this winter has been launched by Citizens Advice Cornwall with the backing of Cornish Pirates Rugby Club.
The initiative will include advice and information on saving energy, how to switch energy suppliers, buying fuel and setting-up or joining oil clubs.
Cornish Pirates, player Alex Cheesman, Team Manager Jan Rendall and player Brett Beukeboom help launching the Citizens Advice Cornwall Keep Warm This Winter Campaign. – Photo: Simon Bryant/Pinnacle.
Citizens Advice Cornwall chief executive, Neil Colquhoun, said:
“Rural communities often suffer from lack of choice and access to services. Research by Citizens Advice has found the top areas with the coldest and unhealthiest homes are all in rural areas, such as Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.
“Fuel poverty is also a big concern, with around one-in-seven rural households nationally struggling to pay to heat their homes.
“Our new campaign is aimed at highlighting these issues and showing the practical steps householders can take to avoid unnecessarily big fuel bills.”
In Cornwall, 15% of all households suffered from fuel poverty, rising to 20% on the Isles of Scilly, compared to the English average of 10%. Fuel poverty happens when a household’s required fuel costs are above the national average and if they were to spend that amount, the money they were left with would tip them below the official poverty line.
As part of Citizen Advice Cornwall’s Rural Energy Campaign, the charity has published a booklet giving helpful information about how to get the best deal from suppliers and the benefits and help you are entitled to, such as the Government’s Winter Fuel Payment for pensioners, the Cold Weather Payment and the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
Cornish Pirates General Manager, Tom Magill, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this campaign. We know many of our supporters can sometimes find it hard keeping up with fuel costs in winter so we’d encourage everyone to have a look at the new Citizens Advice booklet for money saving tips.”
Citizens Advice Cornwall campaigns manager, Sandra Harbage, said:
“The booklet also contains crucial information on how to switch energy supplier, choosing the right energy tariff, use of smart meters and advice for the many homes in Cornwall that are not on mains gas, such as joining an oil club and dealing with LPG suppliers.”
Statistics from Citizens Advice also show installing insulating cavity walls, topping-up loft insulation, fitting double glazing and upgrading a boiler can save a household £250 a year and cut emissions by one tonne of carbon dioxide.
Not leaving electrical items on standby and turning lights off when not in use could save a family £130 on annual energy bills and cut 500kg of emissions.
Dr Tim Jones, of Cornish energy charity Community Energy Plus, said: “As the host of Cornwall’s collective energy switching initiative and the county’s largest community oil buying club, we are pleased to be working with Citizens Advice Cornwall to encourage more people to take control of their energy bills and ensure that they’re not spending more than they need.”
Dr Caroline Court, Acting Director for Public Health, Cornwall Council and Council of the Isles of Scilly, said: “Keeping warm is vital to staying healthy, particularly for those who are more vulnerable to the cold such as the elderly and people with a long-term health condition. One of our top priorities is to prevent illness and deaths from the cold weather”.
Citizens Advice Cornwall Top Ten Tips for Saving Energy:
1 – If you have a timer on your central heating, set the heating and hot water to come on only when required, for example, 30 minutes before you get up in the morning and set it to switch off 30 minutes before you’re due to leave.
2 – If you have a hot water tank, set the cylinder thermostat to 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees F). Cylinder thermostats are usually fitted between a quarter and a third of the way up the hot water cylinder.
3 – Close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows and check for draughts around windows and doors.
4 – If safe to do so, turn-off the light when you leave a room.
5 – Don’t leave appliances on standby and remember not to leave laptops and mobile phones on charge unnecessarily.
6 – When doing the washing, try to fill the machine, tumble drier or dishwasher. One full load uses less energy than two half loads.
7 – Try and ensure you only boil as much water as you need.
8 – A dripping hot water tap can waste enough energy in a single week to fill half a bath. Fix leaking taps and make sure they are fully turned-off.
9 – If you use oil, have you thought about joining an oil buying club?
10 – Do a home energy check which could up to £250 a year on household energy bills. Check the Energy Savings Trust website at http://hec.est.org.uk