North Herefordshire MP Bill is backing Big Energy Week (16-21 January 2012) – a national initiative designed to help people cut their utility costs.

Rising fuel bills threaten to increase the cost of living and squeeze household income. In response, the Government – working with Citizens Advice – is encouraging consumers to explore all the options open to them.

During Big Energy Week Herefordshire residents can get practical advice and support on cutting their fuel bills. The end result could mean moving to a better deal with their existing supplier, switching to another company altogether or taking up home insulation offers.

Bill commented, “Fuel bills are a serious concern for many of my constituents.

Ultimately, the Government is not able to set prices. But what we can do is ensure that proper regulation is in place, support the implementation of energy efficient measures and promote real transparency.

Big Energy Week is a great opportunity for people to take the initiative and find ways of saving money.

More information can be found on the new website Leaflets are also available in Citizens Advice Bureaux across the county – including Hereford and Leominster.

I hope anyone worried about keeping warm this winter will consider getting involved’.

Citizens Advice Chief Executive, Gillian Guy, added: “We know hikes in prices have put extra pressure on people’s budgets at a time when money is already tight. Day in day out our Bureaux helping people who can’t afford their fuel bills.

“We’re worried that some people are struggling unnecessarily because they’re not on the best deal; live in homes that haemorrhage heat or are not getting all of the financial help available to them.”

Big Energy Week is helping people save money on their bills by encouraging them to:

Contact your supplier to check you are you are on the best tariff and payment method for you.  Monthly direct debit is on average £100 cheaper per year than paying by cash or cheque.

Visit an accredited switching website to see if you could get your energy cheaper elsewhere. You may be able to save up to £200 off your annual bill by shopping around for a different supplier, particularly if you have never changed energy firm.

Insulate the walls and the loft of your home and you could save on average around £120 per year.  All major gas and electricity suppliers are giving away free or discounted insulation to any household, not just their own customers. Ask if you’re eligible so you don’t miss out.  That goes for heating oil customers too.

Check you are not missing out on any benefits or tax credits that could up your income; your local Citizens Advice Bureaux can help you with this.

Using less energy could save you money, just by doing simple things like turning off lights and switching appliances off at the wall. Turning your thermostat down 1°C alone could cut your heating bill by £60 on average.

If you are unable to pay your bills you should contact your energy supplier immediately as they have to help you manage your bills in a way that you can afford. 

If you use heating oil or liquid petroleum gas to heat your home, shop around and compare prices from different oil suppliers.  You could also save money by buying in bulk with your neighbours; check if there is an oil club you can join or start one up.