As UK utilities British Gas and npower announce gas price rises, Energy Secretary Ed Davey has written to all MPs today with advice on how their constituents can make savings on energy bills.
“The government cannot control volatile world energy prices, which account for around half the current domestic energy bill, but there are a number of ways it can help consumers to cut their energy bills,” he writes.
And to highlight that help, next week has been designated ‘Big Energy Saving Week’, an initiative that is being coordinated by Citizens Advice, along with the Energy Saving Trust and Ofgem.
The Green Deal is now officially in operation, although currently only property assessments are on offer from providers with finance deals on actual improvement measures not possible until the end of January next year.
Last week, representatives from the insulation industry warned that the gap could, as well as putting more households at risk of fuel poverty, jeopardise some 16,000 jobs in the industry.
But Davey argues that the Warm Front scheme is still providing heating and insulation measures to low-income and vulnerable households in England and has changed its criteria so that more people will be eligible. The Warm Home Discount scheme will also give one million of the poorest pensioners and a further million of the most vulnerable a £130 discount on the electricity bill.
There will also be more help for hard-to-treat properties and the most in need through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), which will run alongside the Green Deal, points out Davey.
But again, the ECO will not come into force until “early 2013”, by which time more households may have been pushed over the fuel poverty threshold.
Davey places the onus on the consumer with the reminder that switching supplier and paying by direct debit typically saves around £200 a year.
And now, thanks to the government, suppliers are required to put consumers on the best available tariff – but only if asked to do so.
Given the complexity of the energy market, the government has also had to set up a Energy Saving Advice Service (ESAS) offering phone advice to consumers on making homes more energy efficient, reducing bills and eligibility to help schemes.
For further information:
Slow start to Green Deal putting 16,000 UK jobs at risk (11-Oct)
UK government’s Green Deal officially gets off the ground (2-Oct)
UK government defines new way to measure fuel poverty (19-Sept)
UK home insulation levels making slow progress (8-Mar)
15 October 2012