Published Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Yet it is this group of people who need their heating on especially during the winter period. The Consumer Council wants to help older people be as prepared as possible. It is important for older people to understand what they can do to reduce their energy bills and improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
Ways to pay your gas and electricity bills
There are a variety of ways to pay your energy bill including Direct Debit, quarterly bills and Pay As You Go and it's important to be on the right tariff for your personal circumstances in order to get the best discount available. For example, consumers paying by direct debit or on a Pay As You Go tariff may receive a discount. Pay As You Go meters give you greater control over what you spend, but you must remember to purchase credit. You should contact your electricity or gas supplier to make sure you are on the most suitable tariff.
Switching electricity and gas supplier
You can now switch your domestic electricity supplier and, if you live in the Greater Belfast and Larne areas, your domestic gas supplier too. By switching to a different supplier you might benefit from a lower tariff and better service. You can contact the Consumer Council on 0800 121 6022 to request a free copy of our guides on how to switch your energy supplier or visit our website to use our price and service comparison tool a www.consumercouncil.org.uk/energy/price-comparison-
Home heating oil
The price of oil goes up and down throughout the year. Naturally, most people tend to use more oil during the winter months and it is important to plan ahead.
- Always shop around before you order and never settle for the first quote you get.
- Use the Consumer Council's online heating oil price checker www.consumercouncil.org.uk/oil-price-watch/ to find the cheapest and dearest oil in your area.
- If you can afford it, buy in bulk - the more you buy the cheaper the price per litre.
- Ask your supplier what payment or prepayment options are available.
- Ask your local Council if they offer an oil stamp savings scheme to help you spread the cost of your bill.
Improve the energy efficiency of your home
If installed correctly, energy efficiency measures such as boiler replacement, draught excluders, energy saving light bulbs, loft and cavity wall insulation can reduce the amount of energy you use and save you money. Contact the Energy Savings Trust on 0800 512 012 or the Warm Homes Scheme on 0800 988 0559 for more information.
Receive free additional services from your energy supplier
Gas and electricity suppliers provide free additional services for those over 60 or with specific needs. For example, the provision of special controls or adaptors to operate your gas or electricity appliances, talking bill service, braille and large print bills and more. Contact your energy supplier for more information.
If you or any of your dependants require life supporting electrical equipment, sign up to Northern Ireland Electricity's (NIE) Critical Care Register (regardless of who your electricity supplier is). This service provides you with assistance in the event of an interruption to your electricity supply. For more information, contact NIE on 08457 643 643. (Please note: Northern Ireland Water offer a similar Care Register - please telephone 08457 440088 to register)
The Consumer Council's Energy Information for Older People leaflet contains more information about safety and energy efficiency and our Switching Domestic Electricity and Gas supplier leaflets explain how to switch energy supplier. You can download the leaflets from our website at www.consumercouncil.org.uk/publications/ or call us on 0800 121 6022 to request your free copy.
How to complain effectively
If you encounter a problem with your energy supplier or fuel distributor you should contact the company as soon as possible to resolve the problem.
If you are unable to resolve your complaint directly with your supplier or you are not happy with the service you have received the Consumer Council can help. Contact us on 0800 121 6022 or e-mail us.
The Consumer Council can investigate complaints about coal, electricity and natural gas but we cannot investigate individual complaints regarding home heating oil. However, if you have a problem with your home heating oil supplier we would like to hear about it. Consumers can contact us on 0800 121 6022, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or let us know via twitter and facebook.