Published Monday, 27 January 2014
The Consumer Council has found that people who could benefit from these additional services are missing out, so we have prepared some advice on how to access these services and what you can do to be prepared in the event of loss of electricity or water supply.
What extra services do these companies offer?
Both Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) and Northern Ireland Water (NI Water) offer a Critical Care Register.
The NIE Critical Care Register provides support for people who rely on life supporting electrical equipment. NIE will tell you about any planned interruptions to your electricity supply at least three days in advance, how long the interruption is expected to last and they will also keep you informed of any changes during the interruption.
During a power cut NIE will contact you and provide up to date information. They will also let you know when they expect a fault to be fixed. This will allow you to make alternative arrangements if you need to. Customers on the Critical Care Register will also have their registered phone number recognised by NIE when they call and it will be flagged as a priority number.
If you rely on equipment that is vital to your health and which requires a water supply you should register with NI Water. If you are on NI Water's Register and you don't have water, they will prioritise you to get bottled water or a small tank of water. If there is flooding NI Water will aim to help their Critical Care customers as quickly as possible. However, it is important that you have planned a safe way out of your home.
Those on the Critical Care Registers can nominate a carer or relative to contact during a power cut or interruption to your water supply, if the company is unable to contact you.
All electricity, gas and water supply companies offer customer care services which include:
- Braille, talking and large print bills.
- Password scheme - callers must use a chosen password when they come to your home.
- Carer's contact service - You can name a carer or relative whom they can contact if they need to reach you at anytime.
Airtricity and firmus energy also offer customers free gas safety checks or a meter moving service, if the meter is located somewhere which makes it difficult to read. Special controls or adaptors are also available for those customers who need them.
Will I have to pay for the extra services?
No. This extra help is given free of charge.
Who can apply for these services?
If you or any one in your household is an older consumer, has a disability, has a serious medical condition or needs extra help for any other reason you can contact your electricity, gas or water company to sign up.
How can I get these services?
To sign up for any of these services you need to contact your electricity, gas and water company. Each company has a separate list so you will need to contact each one. They will take your details and ask you what services you would like to sign up for.
How can I find out more information?
You can find out more about these services by contacting your electricity, gas or water company.
We have also compiled a list of the services offered by the different utility companies along with their contact details. This information can be found on the Consumer Council's website www.consumercouncil.org.uk/energy. Alternatively you can call us on 0800 121 6022.
What can I do to be prepared for a loss of electricity or water supply?
If there is a power cut or loss of water supply NIE and NI Water should try to restore these as soon as possible. If NI Water is unable to restore service within 24 hours they will try to provide other supplies of drinking water. However, it is important that you are prepared if your supply does go off.
- Find out how your medical equipment operates. If you are unsure ask your health professional.
- Make sure your battery back-up for necessary equipment is always fully charged.
- Have adequate water storage.
- Consider the possibility of staying somewhere else if there is a prolonged interruption to your supply.
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