Big Energy Saving Week – a joint campaign between Energy Saving Trust (EST), Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Citizens Advice – reveals 74% of Brits are still worried about their heating energy bills.
The campaign helps householders learn how to take control of their energy bills with free advice available during the week over the phone, online and at events across the UK.
Philip Sellwood, chief executive of EST, said:
“Rightfully, millions of householders are confused by their heating controls because, let’s be honest, it is a bit of a minefield. There are plenty of myths out there and it’s no wonder people aren’t getting it right. We are urging customers to learn about the myths, check their tariff, switch suppliers and insulate their homes.”
Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey said:
“The easiest way to cut energy bills fast is to shop around for the cheapest energy deal and switch suppliers. Thanks to government action to reform the energy market the number of independent suppliers has almost trebled since 2010 – encouraging greater competition which helps drive down prices.
“We’re also making it easier and quicker for people to switch, and the major energy suppliers have confirmed that switching times will halve by the end of this year to just two and a half weeks.”
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“Every day, Citizens Advice helps people who are struggling to meet the cost of their energy bills. Eighty thousand people a year come to us for help with fuel debts. With prices up a third since 2010, it’s more important than ever that people know what they can do to keep their fuel bills down and what help is available. That’s why we’re running events up and down the country to help people make sure they are not paying a penny more than they have to.”
The findings from an Ipsos MORI survey of over 2,000 UK respondents show that almost four fifths of people (78%) claim to understand how to use their heating controls. However, many of these respondents turn out to be using their heating controls incorrectly. Of those who thought they understood how to operate their heating controls:
- Turn the heating up when it’s cold outside. Half (52%) turn the thermostat up when it’s cold outside. A home shouldn’t need this as the thermostat is there to maintain the home temperature whatever the weather.
- Turn up the thermostat to heat the room quicker. Over a third (35%) turn their room thermostat up when they want the room to heat up quicker. This does not help a room become warmer any quicker and only heats the home to a warmer temperature.
- Leave the heating on low constantly. Thirty-eight per cent think it is more energy efficient to leave the heating turned on at a low temperature constantly, rather than turn it on and off. This means these homes are heated when no-one is there to benefit and then the home is too cold when people are in the home.
- Hot water runs out if you stop feeding the tank. Nearly a third (31%) leave their water heating on all the time to make sure they never run out, which could be costing far more on their energy bills than necessary.
- Keep electric storage heaters on all the time. Our research also found that few people with electric storage heaters fully understand how they work (only 38%). This means that households with electric heating could be paying through the nose by not taking advantage of cheaper night rate electricity.
EST’s research also found many households are still not regularly switching energy supplier.
- Only a quarter of bill payers claimed to have changed energy supplier in the last year, yet we found switching is easier than people think.
- Over two thirds (67%) of those who had switched energy suppliers in the last year agreed that it could save a lot of money, but only 31% of those who’d not considered switching thought it could benefit them.
- Older people are less likely to consider changing their energy supplier; 60% of those over 55 claim they are unlikely to consider switching in the next year, compared to 42% of those under 35.
Big Energy Saving Week (20-24 October) is funded by DECC in collaboration with EST and Citizens Advice Bureau. Other partners supporting the campaign include Global Action Plan, Age UK and ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England). The week will help householders to take practical steps to cut to their bills by checking they are on the best deal, switching tariff or supplier and taking up energy saving actions such as using their heating controls in the correct way.
Big Energy Saving Week is part of a wider DECC initiative known as the Big Energy Saving Network – a £1 million programme to support eligible third sector organisations and community groups and deliver help and advice to vulnerable consumers.
In order to reach as many households as possible, during the course of the week there will be local events across the UK which will be run by a network of Citizens Advice Bureaux and community volunteers.