Energy advice for carers
Jo Salisbury from the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) answers questions from carers on energy efficiency and getting through the winter...
Everyone across the UK has seen a huge increase in their energy bills. With the wider cost of living crisis, more and more people are worried about turning on their heating this winter. If you care for someone at home, you’ll likely be using a lot of energy.
At the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE), our energy advisors often speak to people including carers and those on low incomes, struggling with expensive heating systems, or needing extra warmth due to illness.
I’m worried about my energy bills, what support is available?
First look to maximise your income. Check the benefits you are entitled to claim, especially Pension Credit and Universal Credit. Claiming the right benefits can also help you access additional payments like the Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Payment, Cost of Living Payment, energy rebate and to grants to improve your property. There could also be support for water tariffs too.
£15 billion pounds of benefits remain unclaimed each year including nearly £1.3bn of Carer’s Allowance. There are 850,000 people missing out on pension credit, whilst a further 3.4 million people are missing out on attendance allowance. A simple benefits check can take 10 minutes online, if you’re not online one of our friendly energy advisors at CSE or other agencies like Citizens Advice can help.
Should I turn off the heating to save money?
We don’t advise anyone to turn off their heating because this could cause complications with health conditions. Keep your heating between 18-21°. If you or someone you care for feels the cold more due to inactivity, you could invest in an energy efficient electric blanket. As well as keeping your heating system at a continuous lower level to help you save money.
What else could I be doing to save energy?
Activities like washing clothes, showering and cooking can can be energy intensive, especially when you look after someone. Small steps like washing full loads in your washing machine or batch cooking could help make a difference.
CSE's top energy saving tips:
- Wash your clothes at the lowest temperature possible. Washing at 30°C uses 38% less energy than washing at 40°C. Always make sure you are only washing full loads.
- Close the curtains when it’s getting dark. Tuck them behind the radiator and shut the doors to rooms to keep the heat in.
- Make sure you are using your heating correctly. For example, correct use of Night Storage Heater controls will save around £108 a year.
- Defrost your freezer regularly. A defrosted freezer can save £200 a year.
- Switch to LED bulbs. Switching incandescent bulbs to LEDs will save up to £13 per year per bulb.
I already do lots of those things, what else can I do at home to save energy?
Insulate your home to avoid wasting heat through walls, windows, roofs and doors. There are often grants available (speak to CSE’s energy advisors for help with this).
Draughtproofing is cheap and easy. Blocking gaps around windows, doors and letterboxes will stop warm air from escaping. Do not block vents especially if you have any gas heating.
Fitting low-cost secondary glazing is a good option if double glazing is too costly or you’re not allowed to install it in your home.
Should I get a smart meter?
A smart meter can help keep an eye on your energy usage and you can then use the information to make adjustments and lower your bills. Smart meters are thought to reduce energy by 5%, and they are free from your supplier.
I’ve heard of something called the Priority Service Register, what is it?
The Priority Services Register (PSR) is a free service that your energy and water supplier use to ensure the correct support is given to its most vulnerable customers. It’s a system designed and overseen by Ofgem to better ensure that individuals with special requirements have access to additional support from their energy and water suppliers as and when they require it.
The Centre for Sustainable Energy is a national charity supporting people and organisations across the UK to tackle the climate emergency and end the suffering caused by cold homes. Visit www.cse.org.uk for details.