The problem with my office is that when it’s cold and wet , there’s a draught through my window. My thoughts drift between writing about the budget and buying a Lemsip to preventing a cold. Of-course I can always turn on the heating too. Let’s turn to the budget instead.
Government did not reduce the value of the fuel allowance nor the fuel measures in the household benefits package this year. Government also increased funding for energy retrofit programmes such as the Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme. This has the added benefit of jobs as well as improved efficiency in homes. We must ensure though that those in most need benefit equally for such schemes.
However, where monies have been lost, such as the telephone allowance for older people, or the impending uncertainty about medical cards for families, there is an inevitable impact on households budgeting options and large energy bills can be the most difficult to face.
So what next now that winter is definitely upon us? SVP continues to work with households to assist, advise and guide them on energy usage. Often people come to us for help very late in the day and although we recognise that sometimes it can feel too challenging for people to open the latest bad news envelope, or take the pending phone call, a problem shared really is a problem halved and we encourage customers to maintain a relationship with their supplier as well as talking to us or other advocate groups. As ever we continue to promote Pay As You Go options where practicable and financially appropriate.
Utility bills are not the only energy costs though. About 70% of the rural population depend on oil, which is increasingly more expensive to buy and requires a minimum fill. Carbon taxes on solid fuels have become the norm and of course there’s the cost of servicing and maintaining boilers and fittings equipment.
All energy providers and many websites promote energy savings tips, most are obvious, but are only any good if you put them into practice! A short-hand list includes only filling the kettle with as much as you need; a shower costs about 20% of a bath; turn off tv’s and appliances completely, standing by costs money.
So now that the winters upon us let’s look at the wider energy issue and consider not only our costs and how we pay, but also our usage and the efficiency of our homes; because from now on neither can be dealt with in isolation from the other.