As concerns over energy costs grow, a campaign has launched to highlight the simple steps households in County Durham can take to reduce their energy usage and help save money on their fuel bills.
Organised by the Energy Saving Trust and Citizens Advice Bureau, Big Energy Saving Week (17th – 23rd January) is a national initiative to raise awareness and provide support for households on becoming more energy efficient to help manage energy costs and protect the planet by reducing emissions.
It is estimated that through making simple changes, such as adjusting heating controls or switching to LED lights, households could save around £100* a year on their bills and help towards the UK reaching net zero emissions by 2050.
In support of the campaign OFTEC, which represents the liquid fuel heating industry, has created a checklist to help households in County Durham reduce their energy usage and lower their carbon footprint. The advice includes:
- Bleed your radiators at least once a year to remove any air that has become trapped in your central heating system. Air pockets can prevent radiators from working correctly, meaning your boiler will need to work harder to heat your home.
- Adjust your heating timers to ensure your house only warms up when you need it to, especially if your working patterns have changed and you spend less time at home during the day. Many modern thermostats enable you to set different temperatures at different times with separate programmes for weekends which helps to effectively manage your heating needs.
- Check if you are eligible for financial support. The pandemic and current energy price rises have put a real strain on household finances. Help is available for those struggling with their energy costs including:
- Cold Weather Payment. This runs from 1st November to 31st March. If you receive benefits, such as Universal Credit or Pension Credit, and the temperature falls to 0˚C or less for seven consecutive days, you may be eligible for £25 a week for each seven-day period of cold weather.
- Winter Fuel Payment. Most people over 65 are entitled to the Winter Fuel Payment to help with heating costs. This is a tax-free payment of between £100 and £300 paid and the deadline to make a claim is 31 March 2022.
- Warm Home Discount. You may be entitled to discount on your electricity bill if you receive Pension Credit or if you have a low income. This is a one-off discount usually made between October and March.
- Book your boiler in for a service to ensure it is working efficiently and not wasting energy. An annual service can also help to avoid costly repairs in the future as your heating system will be optimised and cleaned. Remember to use an OFTEC (for oil) or GasSafe (for mains gas) registered technician as they are regulated and follow strict safety and professional standards.
Malcolm Farrow, from OFTEC, said: “As we head into another year of uncertainty around the pandemic and rising energy costs, many households in County Durham will undoubtedly be worried about the months ahead.
“While there are many ways to save money and increase the energy efficiency of your home, such as upgrading insulation or fitting double glazed windows, these can be expensive and difficult to implement, particularly if you rent or live in an older, rural property. There are, however, some simple everyday actions that you can take today to make sure you are getting the most out of the energy you pay for, while reducing your carbon footprint by optimising your heating system.
“Financial support from the government is also available for those struggling with household running costs, so it’s important to check your eligibility to help manage your energy needs over the coming months.”
More information and advice can be found at OFTEC’s website www.oftec.org