Fuel Poverty – what to do and where you may be able to get help

What is fuel poverty?

Most of us would define fuel poverty as simply not being able to afford to keep your home warm. But there is an official definition: a household is said to be fuel poor if it has above-average energy costs, and if paying those costs would push it below the poverty line as far as its remaining income was concerned.  Rising fuel costs are pushing more households into fuel poverty.

What if I can’t pay my fuel bills?

If you’re struggling to keep up with your energy costs, you should remember that your energy provider won’t immediately cut off your supply. There are likely to be warning steps involved – for example, if you miss a bill payment, you’ll be sent a postal reminder after 14 days. This is generally followed by further correspondence and potentially even a home visit if the issue hasn’t been resolved.

That’s why it’s important to keep in contact with your supplier if you miss, or are in danger of missing a payment – they may be able to give you advice, or help you find a way to manage your payments. You might also benefit from one of the government’s schemes designed to assist people who struggle with their energy bills.

Information about support for households experiencing fuel poverty

West Devon Borough Council has a very useful page with information about support that householders may be able to access, depending on their circumstances.

What can you do at home to fight fuel poverty?

While there are government schemes that might be able to help with your fuel payments, there are things you can do at home to help cut energy costs. Some of the most common ways to cut your energy bill include turning appliances off at the plug instead of leaving them on standby, washing clothes at a lower setting, and using insulation tape or other barriers to keep out draughts coming through doors and windows.

For more ways to cut the costs of your energy bills, have a look at some energy saving tips  from Moneysupermarket.