Tips on managing your utility bills this winter

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The scammer tried to make the woman part with £98 - luckily she wasn't fooled. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

In response to the continuing concerns about rising energy costs, Citizens Advice East Devon is offering practical information and support. They say 'We care because you matter', and their head of media & communications, Jess Park, has supplied this article on managing your utility bills.

If you are struggling with paying your bills, Citizens Advice East Devon can help you.  

We can check what benefits or grants you can get, help you work out your budget and even speak to creditors on your behalf. The worst thing you can do is nothing, so please get in touch if you are struggling. Our contact details are at the end of the article. 

 I am sure we have all been there. Utility bills have a way of sneaking up on you, especially when some are paid monthly, quarterly or even annually, but there are ways of sorting things out to be managed more easily, and that can save you money.  

 Here are our top tips for managing utilities:  

Manage your bills  

Don’t ignore providers or overdue bills. Speak to your providers to sort out a payment plan - they must help you do this and if they don’t, contact us. 

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Most water companies have hardship schemes or other ways to help, so it is important to contact them if you can’t pay your bills.  

The important thing is to get organised: note it on a calendar, make a spreadsheet, set reminders on your phone, whatever works for you! 

Shop around 

If you are on a fixed tariff then you know exactly how much you will be spending each month, which makes it easier to budget. However, at the end of the contract your provider can switch you to a variable tariff, which is often more expensive. Make sure you know when your contract expires so you can look around for better deals. 

We will provide a guide on how to swap utility providers next week. 

Check the settings of your heaters and meters  

It’s safe to say that in most cases energy is cheaper at night, so check your meter is set up correctly.  

We will provide a guide on reading your meters and ensuring they are set up correctly next week. 

Make use of timer switches to only come on at night so you don’t have to worry about turning the heating on or off. Using the switches or a thermostat could save up to £70 a year. 

Check your water tank has an insulating jacket -  it costs about £15 and should save you about £49 each year. 

Check your hot water pipes have foam insulation or 'lagging'. This costs about £10 and should save you about £15 each year.

If your heating doesn't work, try to get it fixed as soon as possible so you don’t need to use portable electric heaters, which cost more. 

If you rent your home, ask your landlord to fix the heating. They usually have to make sure your plumbing and heating work properly. If your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) says your home is rated F or G, your landlord normally has to make some improvements. If your landlord won’t make the improvements you can speak to us. 

Speak to us for an income maximisation check 

We can make sure you are getting the benefits and grants you are entitled to by performing an income maximisation check. We could also help you budget and help you swap providers. 

Whatever the problem we can help. 

How to contact us:  

Call us: 01395 265 070 

Email us: Enquiries@citizensadviceeastdevon.org 

Follow us: CitizensAdviceEastDevon 

Twitter: CitaEast 

Instagram: eastdevoncitzadv