Energy bills

As my last column before Christmas, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all the very best over this festive period. It is a time for celebration and family but it is also important for us to spare a thought for those who are less fortunate, and those who struggle with the added expense that Christmas brings.

It is certainly an expensive time of the year for people and ways to save money over Christmas are invaluable. One way of saving money is altering the way you buy and consume energy.

The temperatures have dropped considerably over the past week, and it is therefore important to check on elderly neighbours. The cold weather means you are more than likely using a lot more energy to heat up your homes which potentially brings with it the threat of fuel poverty.

Fuel poverty effects 4 million people nationally as millions of families face the reality that heating their home could mean them falling into debt or sacrificing household necessities.

There are however a number of ways to reduce energy bills. It is important to get advice about making your homes more efficient as even some small improvements like blocking drafts can make a big difference.

I’d also recommend contacting CAB and your energy supplier as you may be entitled to certain benefits, types of assistance, or a reductions in bills through schemes like Warm Home Discount rebate.

It is also very important to change suppliers. I was recently made aware that 5,821 constituents (15%) changed their electricity supplier last year and potentially saved hundreds of pounds in the process.

I believe this number is too small and I therefore recently pledged my support to the Energy Switch Guarantee (ESG). The ESG is a commitment by energy suppliers to make switching simple, speedy and safe – and will soon cover 90 percent of the market. It is easier than ever to switch suppliers and I really do encourage my constituents to do so.

I am also backing the smart meter rollout. 8.6 million smart meters have now been installed across the UK. These customers will find it easier to make energy savings because they are no longer estimating their bills as they can tell how much exactly they are using in different places.