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Energy and water advice for residents

Quick home energy wins

Energy used in homes is responsible for over a quarter of all UK emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas causing climate change. 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.

  • a dripping tap can waste more than 5,300 litres of water a year. Make sure your taps are turned off properly and change washers promptly when taps start to drip
  • spend one minute less in the shower each day and a family of four could save £75 a year on energy and water bills
  • a running tap wastes more than 6 litres of water every minute, so turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing your face
  • turn your lights off when you’re not using them. If you switch a light off for just a few seconds, you will save more energy than it takes for the light to start up again. This will save you around £14 a year on your annual energy bills
  • replace your bulbs as and when you can with energy efficient LEDs – on average it could save about £35 a year on bills
  • turning your appliances off standby mode can save you £30 a year and remember not to leave laptops and mobile phones on charge unnecessarily
  • if you have a timer on your central heating system, set the heating and hot water to come on only when needed
  • if you turn down your main thermostat by 1 degree, you can save around 10% on your energy bill, but make sure your home is warm enough during cold weather. Cold homes can damage your health
  • close your curtains at dusk to stop heat from escaping through the windows and check for draughts around windows and doors
  • draught-proofing of windows and doors and blocking cracks in floors and skirting boards can save around £20 a year on energy bills

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice Bedford offers free, independent, impartial energy advice to residents of Bedford Borough. They can provide tips to help you check, switch and save on your energy bills, advice on how to resolve issues with your energy supplier, and support applying for energy grants, if eligible.

They offer face-to-face and telephone appointments. Please call 01234 867944 or visit Citizens Advice Bedford.

Support from energy companies

If you are struggling to pay your energy bills, contact your supplier as soon as possible as they can work with you to agree on a payment plan you can afford under Ofgem rules. Most have also signed fresh commitments this year to support you.

You can ask for:

  • a review of your payments and debt repayments
  • payment breaks or reductions
  • more time to pay
  • access to hardship funds
  • Priority Service registration – a free support service if you are in a vulnerable situation
  • emergency credit if you use a prepay meter and can’t top up

National Support Schemes

You may also qualify for further support towards your bills:

  • Winter Fuel Payment – a £100 to £300 fuel payment for people born on or before 26th September 1955
  • Cold Weather Payment – a £25 payment for every 7 days of very cold weather between November and March
  • Warm Home Discount – a £140 discount for some people getting Pension Credit or some people in low-income households
  • Boiler Upgrade Scheme - get between £5,000 to £6,000 off the cost and installation of heat pumps and biomass boilers.

Energy switching

You might be able to get a better deal with an existing or new supplier by contacting them directly. You can also visit comparison websites to see if you could be getting your energy cheaper by switching, make sure you’re aware of any exit fees on your current tariff.

In addition, consumers can group together to negotiate a better deal with their gas and electricity suppliers:

Meters

Smart meters are next-generation gas and electricity meters, and being available at no upfront cost, they offer many benefits over traditional meters. They offer automated meter reading, and end to estimated bills and live in-home display of your energy use and costs. For more information, visit:

Further advice

It may be possible to generate a significant proportion of your home's heat or electricity requirements from renewable technologies, reducing both the amount of CO2 your household produces and your energy bills.

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) is a support mechanism designed to ensure small-scale generators are paid for the renewable electricity they export to the grid. You may be eligible to apply if you have one of the following renewable energy generating technologies;

  • solar PV Panels
  • a wind turbine
  • hydro
  • anaerobic digestion (AD)
  • micro combined heat and power (micro-CHP)

Bedford Borough residents and local businesses are being encouraged to find out more about a scheme that could help them lower their energy bills and reduce their carbon emissions.

Solar Together Bedfordshire is a group-buying scheme that helps households get a reduced price on the installation of solar panels and battery storage.

It’s free to register, and there is no obligation to accept the personal recommendation. The more people that register, the better bargaining power Solar Together has to get you a more competitive price.

You can find out more information along with how to register here: Solar together Bedfordshire

Landlord energy efficiency standards

There is a minimum energy efficiency standard at 'E', for all privately rented properties. It is illegal to rent out a property unless it is 'E' or the landlord has carried out the maximum package of measures available through funding options (even if this does not get them above 'F').

From April 2020 this restriction on landlords letting out a property rated below an 'E' is extended to cover all existing tenancies for properties.

Further help

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