Call for Scots to help elderly winter-proof energy bills
A joint campaign from Energy Saving Trust, Department of Energy and Climate Change and Citizens Advice Scotland is calling on Scottish residents to swot up on switching energy supplier and, where possible, help an older relative or neighbour find a better deal.
As people prepare for winter, Big Energy Saving Week aims to help people switch to a better gas and electricity deal.
Findings from an Ipsos MORI survey of 2,710 UK participants, including 527 from Scotland, shows millions of householders across the UK don’t realise how much they could save from switching energy supplier or tariff.
In Scotland, 42 per cent of people don’t think they could save anything by switching and of the other half, the vast majority (70 per cent) believe it could only save £100 or less.
Big Energy Saving Week is a national campaign to help people cut their fuel bills and get all the financial support they are entitled to. The campaign provides advice to people over the telephone through Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282, or face-to-face at hundreds of events being held across Britain.
The campaign this year urges householders to help those elderly people who need support to winter-proof their energy bills. Just over 50 per cent of Scots with an elderly friend or relative said they were unsure on how to help an elderly person switch, and almost two thirds (68 per cent) of these people believe their elderly friend or relative cannot switch because they don’t know how to use the internet.
Online searches are the main way Scottish people find the best energy deal – 70 per cent of us would use an online site to switch, yet only 13 per cent have actually taken the time to help an elderly person to find a better deal.
This is in contrast with other chores undertaken by friends, neighbours and family. Of those running errands for older people, 62 per cent do their grocery shopping, 61 per cent visit them regularly for company and nearly half (43 per cent) drive them to local services.
Mike Thornton, director of Energy Saving Trust Scotland, said: “What’s most concerning is that nearly a quarter of the people we spoke to (23 per cent) said they were aware an elderly person they look after has fallen behind or been unable to pay their energy bills.
“We’re urging sons, daughters, friends, neighbours and even older people themselves to help each other, or someone they know, to check and make sure they are on the best deal online or over the phone. It could make a real difference this winter.”
There are many ways you can save energy and stay warm this winter. Home Energy Scotland offers expert advice helping people take practical steps to reduce their fuel bills. Whatever your circumstances, we have lots of different ways to help you, or your elderly relative, save money.
Energy and climate change secretary, Amber Rudd, said: “By not switching, hardworking bill payers are missing out on hundreds of pounds – savings which could especially help older people heat their homes for less this winter.
“We’re spreading the message to help friends, family and neighbours to shop around for a better deal. We’ve made it easier to change supplier and increased competition in the market – so there’s never been a better time to switch.”
The findings from the study showed that misunderstandings and misconceptions could be a major reason behind why people are not switching. Nearly two thirds of people (60 per cent) of the Scottish population wrongly believe one or more switching myths were true.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of the Citizens Advice Service, added: “Myths about energy bills and switching are standing in the way of savings. Consumers can cut their gas and electricity bills by shopping around and switching to a new deal. Whether you are a tenant in a private rented property, own your own home or have a prepayment meter there are savings to be made.
“While the process is fairly straightforward not everyone feels confident to find the best tariff and some are put off by myths around switching.
“That’s why we’re running Big Energy Saving Week to help people find the cheapest deal before temperatures really start to drop. Help and information is available online, over the phone, or by attending one of the hundreds of events across the country.”