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Date: 21 November, 2003


Advice on how to cut your fuel bills and information about cold weather and winter fuel payments

Apart from mortgages, energy bills are Britain's biggest household expenditure. But bills can be reduced when energy saving methods are applied, and it helps the environment too

According to SwitchandGive, an independent online comparison service, many people don't take advantage of the many energy saving methods available which, with a little effort, can help cut down your gas and electricity bills by more than half.

Simple steps to an energy efficient home

Ify Anyaegbunam, from SwitchandGive, offered a few suggestions to help cut energy bills: "35% of heat is lost through walls so investing in insulation can be the most cost efficient way to save energy and can save up to £100 per year. Double glazing can also reduce heat loss through windows by 50% and your heating bill by 40%.

"When the sun is out, simply opening the internal doors of the rooms which get the most sun will allow the warm air to travel through your home. In addition to this, close curtains after dusk, try to dry clothes outside on sunny days and avoid using tumble dryers or radiators.


"A lot of energy is used to heat radiators so don't waste money by blocking them with furniture. Foam upholstered sofas are great heat insulators and they prevent the heat from getting to the rest of the room.

"Put kitchen foil behind any radiators that are fitted to outside walls to ensure that the heat is not lost. If you turn your thermostat down by just 1°c you can save about £10 a year without even noticing the difference.

"If your boiler is 15 years old then it's probably served its time. A new energy efficient condensing boiler will save you around a third of your heating bills straight away and even more if you upgrade to modern controls. Buy a 7.6cm (3") thick insulation jacket for your hot water tank to save £20 per year and energy efficient light bulbs to save £10 per year. The light bulbs cost from £4 and last 12 times longer than regular bulbs."

Save and give by switching

Switching suppliers is another easy way of saving up to £200 on your gas and electricity bills. Switching is simple and offers homeowners a chance to compare every tariff from every licensed energy provider, free of charge.

Ify Anyaegbunam added: "There are no long-term commitments so you can switch as often as you like. In fact, it is recommended that you review your energy providers as often as you review your car insurance. By switching suppliers through you can save up to £200 and a free donation of up to £40 will be given to Christian Aid. In addition, for every enquiry made via the phone line a free donation of £1 is made."

To find out how much you can save on your gas and electricity bills visit or call 0845 084 0300.

Cold weather payment

Don't compromise your health to save a few pounds on heating this winter. The introduction of cold weather payments means that pensioners can now claim £8.50 per cold weather period.

During periods of cold weather the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) makes payments to those that need extra help in paying their winter fuel bills. A Cold Weather Payment of £8.50 per period is paid automatically when the average temperature is, or is forecast to be, 0°c or below over seven consecutive days.

There is no need to make a claim. Payments are made automatically by the Income Support Computer System or Jobseeker's Allowance Payment System. A small number of cases are paid clerically by the Social Security or Jobs and Benefits Office.

Winter fuel payments

A Winter Fuel Payment is a one-off payment to help older people with their winter heating bills. To get a Winter Fuel Payment for winter 2003/2004 you need to be 60 or over in the qualifying week of 15 - 21 September 2003 and normally live in Great Britain or Northern Ireland.

If, during the qualifying week, you get the Minimum Income Guarantee paid through Income Support, you will get £200. If, during the qualifying week, you do not get the Minimum Income Guarantee, you will get £200 if you are the only eligible person in your household or £100 if there are other eligible people in your household. However, if you are aged 80 or over you could get an extra payment of £100 per household. This is the new 80+ Annual Payment.

For more information about Winter Fuel Payments or to get a claim form for either this winter or past winters ring the Winter Fuel Payment Helpline on 0845 915 1515 (0845 601 5613 for textphone users).

Lines are open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4.30pm and calls are charged at local rates.


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