A campaign calling for people to help their elderly friends and relatives save money on their energy bills has been backed by South Swindon MP Robert Buckland.
Big Energy Saving Week – a joint campaign with Energy Saving Trust, Department of Energy and Climate Change and Citizens Advice – calls on Brits to swot up on switching energy supplier and, where possible, help an older relative or neighbour find a better deal.
Robert, who attended the campaign’s launch event in Westminster, said: “With winter fast approaching, I am pleased to support The Big Energy Saving Week to help consumers reduce their bills and get the financial help they are entitled to. I encourage all residents in my constituency to see what they could do to reduce their bills and make sure they aren’t paying more than they need to.”
As people prepare for winter one of the things many can do is switch to a better gas and electricity deal. The findings from an Ipsos MORI survey of 2,710 UK participants shows millions of householders across the UK don’t realise how much they could save from switching energy supplier or tariff.
Almost half (45 per cent) of people don’t think they could save anything by switching and of the other half, the vast majority (75 per cent) believe it could only save £100 or less.
Big Energy Saving Week is a national campaign to help people cut their fuel bills and get all the financial support they are entitled to. The campaign provides advice to people over the telephone through the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234, or face-to-face at hundreds of events being held across Britain.
The campaign this year urges householders to help those elderly people who need support to winter-proof their energy bills. Just over 40 per cent of people with an elderly friend or relative said they were unsure on how to help an elderly person switch, and almost two thirds (65 per cent) of these people believe their elderly friend or relative cannot switch because they don’t know how to use the internet.
Online searches are the main way Brits find the best energy deal – over three quarters (78 per cent) of us would use an online site to switch, yet only 13 per cent have actually taken the time to help an elderly person to find a better deal.
This is in contrast with other chores undertaken by friends, neighbours and family. Of those running errands for older people, 61 per cent do their grocery shopping, 58 per cent visit them regularly for company and nearly half (47 per cent) drive them to local services.
Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said:
“What’s most concerning is that a fifth of the people we spoke to (20 per cent) said they were aware an elderly person they look after has fallen behind or been unable to pay their energy bills.
“We’re urging sons, daughters, friends, neighbours and even older people themselves to help each other, or someone they know, to check and make sure they are on the best deal online or over the phone. It could make a real difference this winter.”
Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Amber Rudd, said:
“By not switching, hardworking bill payers are missing out on hundreds of pounds – savings which could especially help older people heat their homes for less this winter.
“We’re spreading the message to help friends, family and neighbours to shop around for a better deal. We’ve made it easier to change supplier and increased competition in the market – so there’s never been a better time to switch.”
The findings from the study showed that misunderstandings and misconceptions could be a major reason behind why people are not switching. Nearly two thirds of people (60 per cent) wrongly believe one or more switching myths were true.
▪ A third of people wrongly think that prepayment customers can’t switch supplier if they’re in any debt.
▪ A quarter of people wrongly think that tenants require their landlord’s permission to switch.
▪ 25 per cent of people wrongly think they might be disconnected when changing supplier.
▪ One in five (22 per cent) wrongly think you can’t change energy supplier when you move house, rather than staying with the property’s existing supplier.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“Myths about energy bills and switching are standing in the way of savings.
"Consumers can cut their gas and electricity bills by shopping around and switching to a new deal. Whether you are a tenant in a private rented property, own your own home or have a prepayment meter there are savings to be made.
"While the process is fairly straightforward not everyone feels confident to find the best tariff and some are put off by myths around switching.
"That's why we're running Big Energy Saving Week to help people find the cheapest deal before temperatures really start to drop. Help and information is available online, over the phone, or by attending one of the hundreds of events across the country.”
For advice about switching and to find the best energy deal visit BeAnEnergyShopper.com For advice and tips on how to save money on your energy bill call the Energy Saving Advice service on 0300 123 1234.