Keep warm at home
- If you are over 65, or have a health problem, heat your home to at least 18°C to keep warm
- Make sure that you have some warm slippers or shoes that have a good grip.
- Try to keep your feet up as the air is cooler at ground level.
- Put on several warm, light layers of clothing which will keep you warmer than one thick layer. Have hot drinks, use a hot water bottle and if you're sitting down, put a blanket over you.
- Keep moving – avoid sitting down for long periods as muscles become stiff and slow when they are cold. Even housework will generate body heat and help to keep you warm.
More information on keeping warm in winter is available:
- Age UK's preparing for Winter guide.
- The Met Office has health and wellbeing help and advice about how to prepare and stay safe this winter.
- The NHS also has a series of keep warm, keep well advice and five ways to stay healthy this winter
- Safe, Healthy and Well (PDF) is a one-stop information leaflet which brings together existing services offered by Bedford Borough Council, and other organisations to help residents keep safe, healthy and well during the winter months.
- If you are aware of someone that is in, or at risk of, fuel poverty, NEA have released a ‘Warm & Safe Homes Action Guide’. This provides practical advice to identify, and guidance on how to assist those at risk.
Priority Services Register
If you are a pensioner, have long-term ill health, are registered disabled or have a hearing or visual impairment, you may be eligible for extra help offered by energy suppliers. Citizens Advice explains what the Priority Services Register is.
To ensure you receive additional services, you need to sign up to your supplier’s Priority Services Register. If you have different suppliers for electricity and gas, you will need to register with each. If you have a carer, they can register on your behalf. There is no charge and you can register for all or some of the services.
Read the Ofgem guide on how to sign up to the Priority Services Register.
Warm home discount
You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2019 to 2020 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
Winter fuel payment
You could qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment if you were born on or before 5 April 1954, receiving between £100 and £300 to help pay for your heating bills.
Energy Company Obligation
If you are in receipt of certain income-related benefits and own or privately rent your home, you might be able to get help for energy-saving improvements such as insulation and a new boiler through the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO).
The British Gas Energy Trust
The British Gas Energy Trust helps families and individuals living in need, hardship or other distress who are struggling with their gas and / or electricity debts by awarding grants to clear those debts.
Insulating your home (PDF). is a straightforward measure and is one of the most cost-effective ways of keeping warmth in your home. It takes less fuel to keep a well-insulated home warm so by fully insulating your home you could save £100 or more on you annual heating bills.
The causes of fuel poverty are inadequate thermal insulation, inefficient and uneconomic heating systems, low household income, and high fuel prices. The consequence is that millions of households cannot afford sufficient warmth for health and comfort.
Identifying the problem
Individuals will rarely identify themselves as suffering from fuel poverty. Instead they will often highlight a range of problems that could be signs of fuel poverty. Common complaints are:
- I can’t pay my electricity/fuel bill
- I’m about to be disconnected
- I can’t afford to heat my home
- My house is cold
- My house is damp
- I’m always ill
Alleviating the problem
There are several links on this page that contain helpful guides and information on what individuals can do to ensure they are keeping warm in their own home.
Get energy efficient and reduce your energy bills
Most of the energy we use in our homes is produced using processes that release CO2 emissions into the air. Energy used in homes is responsible for over a quarter of all UK emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas causing climate change, so making your home as energy efficient as possible and reducing the amount of energy you use is one of the most effective ways of reducing your fuel bills and helping to mitigate climate change.
Heat your home well
- Turn the thermostat down by 1°C. It could cut your heating bills by up to 10%.
- If your boiler is 15 years old or more, replacing it with a new high efficiency boiler can save you around a third on your heating bills.
- Electric storage heaters work best with an Economy 7 electricity tariff as these work by storing heat during off-peak periods when electricity is cheaper, and releasing it into the room the following day and evening. You might have to adjust the input control to anticipate the following day’s weather, although some storage heaters have their own thermostats which do the job for you. Storage heater guide (PDF).
Keep your heat in
- Close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows and fit draught-proofing to seal any gaps around windows and doors to stop heat escaping.
- If your home has cavity walls, they can be insulated to reduce heat loss. Also, make sure you have at least 10 inches (270mm) of loft insulation. Find out more on the Energy Saving Trust's guide to home insulation.
Be wise with energy
- Always turn off the lights when you leave a room, and adjust your curtains or blinds to let in as much light as possible during the day.
- Choose electrical appliances that are energy efficient and therefore will be cheaper to run. Find out about the EU Energy Label and how it can help you to choose the most energy and water efficient fridges, washing machines and dishwashers.
- Do not leave the fridge door open for longer than necessary, as this will let cold air out. Avoid putting hot or warm food straight into the fridge; allow it to cool down first. Defrost your fridge regularly to keep it running efficiently and cheaply.
- Choose the right size pan for the food and cooker (the base should just cover an electric cooking ring), and keep lids on when cooking. With gas the flames only need heat the bottom of the pan. If they lick up the side then you’re wasting heat.
- Heat the amount of water you need in the kettle, and make sure you cover the element. Jug type kettles need less water as they have smaller elements.
- To cut down on wasted energy, avoid leaving appliances such as TVs on standby and remember not to leave appliances on charge unnecessarily, such as mobile phones.
- Always wash a full load in your washing machine, at 30°C, or use a half-load or economy setting.
- Hang your washing on a line or dryer, instead of using a tumble dryer, which uses energy.
- Set the cylinder thermostat at 60°C (140°F) which is fine for bathing and washing.
- Borrow an energy monitor from the library. We have made 15 energy saving monitors available to borrow from the Borough's libraries (Central, Kempston, Wootton, Putnoe and Bromham), initially for up to 3 weeks. The monitors are quick and easy to set-up and are supplied with full instructions. The energy monitor is clipped on to a household electricity supply and allows you to monitor your electricity usage throughout the day. This will enable you to identify possible areas of energy saving, which could help you reduce the amount of electricity you use, to help you save money on your electricity bills and lower your carbon footprint.
- Find out about how smart meters will help you use less energy.
Further sources of advice
Generate your own energy
Have you considered generating your own electricity or heating? You can reduce your energy bills and generate some income.
By generating renewable energy instead of using conventional energy sources (fossil fuels) you can reduce the amount of CO2 your household produces. It may be possible to generate a significant proportion of your home's heat or electricity requirements from renewable technologies. Consider installing a renewable energy technology on your home:
- solar thermal panels to heat your water
- solar photovoltaic panels (PV) to provide you with electricity,
- biomass and wood-fuelled heating system to provide heating and hot water
Renewable heat incentive
The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (Domestic RHI) is an incentive to encourage a switch to renewable heating systems. People who join the scheme and stick to its rules receive quarterly payments for seven years for the amount of clean, green renewable heat it’s estimated their system produces.
Feed in Tariff (FIT)
On the 31 March 2019, the FIT scheme was closed to new applicants. Generators that have already applied and receive payments will continue to do so for the life of their system. Please see the Ofgem FAQ and guidance for more information.
Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)
How does the SEG work?
- Licensed electricity suppliers are required to offer at least one SEG compliant export tariff to any generator with an eligible installation
- Eligible generation installations include (up to 5MW):
- Anaerobic digestion (AD)
- Hydro power
- Solar photovoltaic (PV)
- The electricity suppliers decide what their export tariff will be (rate, type and contract length) but must be more than 0p/kWh at all times
- The installation must also comply with the following:
- The installer/installation must be suitably certified (provide an MCS certificate)
- Have an export meter point administration number (MPAN)
- Have a smart export meter
- You can apply to any licensed electricity supplier for the SEG – you do not have to use your existing electricity supplier and different suppliers will offer different rates
Water butt kit
To help residents save water and money, we offering water butt kits at subsidised prices.
The kit is ideal for collecting water from your home, garage, greenhouse or shed which you can then use to water your garden, reducing the need to use mains water. Plants prefer rainwater to tap water, and water butts are the perfect way to collect it.
The kit includes a stand which enables you to fit a watering can under the tap, a child safe lid, and a rainsaver diverter kit to attach the water butt to your downpipe. Easy-to-follow fitting instructions are also supplied with each kit. To order a water butt, call: 0844 571 4444 or order online at getcomposting.com.
Free water saving home visit
Anglian Water offer free water saving home visits. During the visit, a member of their team will:
- provide water saving advice
- fit water-saving products where possible.
Tips to help you reduce the amount of water you use around the home
Around 25% of your energy bill is from heating the water in your home you use during showering, washing clothes and dishwashing, so by using water more efficiently and cutting out waste and unnecessary use, you can save money and conserve water.
- A running tap uses a lot of water: Don't leave the tap running while brushing your teeth and use a bowl for washing vegetables and dishes.
- Fix dripping taps - it could be wasting up to 90 litres of water a week.
- Take a shower instead of a bath, but remember a power shower can use twice as much water as a bath.
- Install a toilet cistern displacement device to reduce the amount of water used, by 1 litre, every flush.
- Wait until you have a full load before doing your washing or using the dishwasher, or use the half-load button on your machine.
- If you need to purchase a new water using appliance, check to see how water efficient it is and get the most efficient model you can afford.
- Use a bucket and sponge to clean your car instead of a hosepipe.
- Collect rainwater from your home, garage, greenhouse or shed in water butts and buckets, and then re-use it in the garden. The average rooftop collects 85,000 litres of water every year. A water butt is a great way to put some of this to use.