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Check, Switch and Insulate – 18 October 2011

Energy bills have increased by more than £100 for most people since the summer. These price rises come at a time when consumers are already feeling the pinch from rising petrol prices and other household costs. This week at the Consumer Energy Summit, the Government, consumer groups and energy suppliers agreed a range of measures to help consumers save money on their household energy bills.

Key to the plans is the ’Check, Switch and Insulate’ campaign. Energy suppliers will have to communicate clearly with consumers to make sure they know about the potential savings from checking on their energy deal, switching tariff or supplier, insulating their homes and how to go about achieving these savings.

Check and Switch

"It is possible to save around £200 from an annual fuel bill just by shopping around for the best deal," said Grimsby Energy Performance Certificate provider Colin Childs from TheEnergyCounter.com. "Yet despite the potential savings, only one in six households switched energy suppliers last year. This is because people find the vast array of tariffs and offers confusing and complicated. However, we estimate that 20,000 homes in North East Lincolnshire could save money just by changing their payment method with their existing supplier. Energy suppliers will soon be writing to quarterly credit customers to tell them how they can save money by changing payment method."

Work is under way to overhaul and simplify tariffs and cut the hassle out of switching, with a next generation online method of checking and changing to the best deal. The time taken to switch supplier is to be limited to three weeks from this autumn. Energy suppliers have also agreed to look at ways to enable customers to compare their gas and electricity consumption, including the potential for a web-based tool that will provide consumers with a personalised comparison with similar households in their area.

Insulate

"Energy bills can be cut by more than £100 a year if adequate levels of loft and cavity wall insulation are installed," said Mr Childs. "A review of the Energy Performance Certificates produced for Lincolnshire homes by TheEnergyCounter.com found that 42% of homes did not have sufficient loft or cavity wall insulation. That equates to £3m of energy bill savings that homes in North East Lincolnshire could be enjoying."

The Big Six energy suppliers all offer free or cut price deals to install home insulation. From December 2011 the Government will write to the most vulnerable energy customers to tell them they are eligible for free or heavily discounted insulation to their loft or cavity walls and direct them to a dedicated independent helpline. It is estimated that about 10,000 homes in North East Lincolnshire will receive the letter. People wanting advice on insulating their homes should call the Energy Saving Trust on 0800 512 012 to find out about the latest local offers.

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