Eight ways to stay warm and save money this winter
Winter can be tough, especially when you’re caring for someone who is older or has health problems. But according to Carers UK research, a third of carers are being forced to cut back on food and heating during the winter months just to make ends meet.
To help you tackle the winter chill, here are eight ways to stay toasty on a budget:
Be energy efficient
An energy efficient home is a cheaper (and warmer!) home. Here are some suggestions from the Energy Saving Trust:
Draft proof your home - you can do this professionally or by yourself. Find out how.
Stay in control of your heating - installing a room thermostat, a programmer and thermostatic radiator valves could save you around £75 a year. You can even control your heating using your phone: Which? has more information.
Install home insulation if you’re a homeowner - this has an upfront cost factor, but you may be able to get money towards it.
For help with insulation and energy efficiency costs, contact the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 or visit their website.
Upgrade your boiler
Modern condensing boilers can be much more efficient than older models. However, many people still have older, inefficient boilers in their homes, costing more money in the long run. The Energy Savings Trust breaks down the costs.
If you can’t afford to upgrade your boiler yourself, you may be able to get a grant. To be eligible, you need to be on a low income and receive qualifying benefits.
For more details, call the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 or go to www.gov.uk/energy-company-obligation.
Apply for financial help
The Winter Fuel Payment helps older people born on or before 5 August 1953 (this date changes every year) with fuel bills during the colder months. Your payment is made automatically if you received one last year. Call the Winter Fuel Payment helpline on 0345 915 1515.
You may get a Cold Weather Payment if you’re getting certain benefits. Payments are made when the temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees Celsius or below for seven consecutive days. If you are eligible, you’ll be paid automatically. If you think you should have a Cold Weather Payment but you haven't received it yet, contact your pension centre or Jobcentre Plus office, or go to www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment.
The Warm Home Discount Scheme is administered by energy suppliers and gives you £140 towards your electricity bills. You qualify if you are on a low income or receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, and you can still qualify if you are on a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go meter. Check with your supplier to see if you’re eligible or go to www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme.
The Priority Services Register helps disabled people, pensioners and people with long-term illness. Run by energy suppliers, carers can register for free on behalf of the person they care for some or all of the services. Services include:
Moving your meter to make it easier to access.
Installing controls or adaptors to make your meter or appliances easier to use.
Free quarterly meter readings if you can’t read it yourself.
Priority reconnection if your supply is interrupted and advance notice if they stop your supply.
Alternative facilities for cooking and heating if your energy supply is interrupted.
Additional protection from bogus callers with a password protection scheme.
Arranging for your bills to be sent or copied to someone else, such as a carer, who can help you read and check them.
Free advice and information about the services available because of your age, disability or long-term illness.
Learn about switching
Switching your energy supplier may seem like a lot of effort, but it can lead to substantial savings. To learn how to switch and save, read the Age UK Getting the best energy deal factsheet.
Get a grant
The Health Through Warmth Scheme helps homeowners with long-term illness who are on low income. Support includes help repairing a broken heating system, installing a new one or fitting insulation. The scheme is run by npower, but you don’t need to be an npower customer to get help. For more information, call 0800 022 220.
Download our Grant Giving Organisations factsheet for a list of other organisations that provide energy grants.
Get some advice
There’s tonnes of energy saving information out there, and it’s easy to get bogged down with it all. For help, here are some useful resources:
Age UK has a preparing for winter guide for older people. You can also call 0800 055 6112 for advice.
Money Saving Expert busts some common myths on energy saving.
Scope has advice for disabled people or call 0808 800 3333.
Don't be weighed down by debt
If you are having trouble paying your energy bills, don’t let the debts mount up - book a place on our debt advice surgery, run by South West London Law Services. See What’s On for dates and details.
We're here to help
If you are a carer in Croydon, we're here to support you. Find out more about how we help carers.