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Big Energy Week – bring on your big energy questions

It’s Big Energy Week! A week where organisations, like Which? and the Citizens Advice Bureau, try to help you keep the cost of your energy bills down. So what energy related question would you like to see answered?

What’s the number one financial concern for Brits? Energy bills.

Research from the Citizens Advice Bureau found that more than 40% of us fear we won’t be able to pay our next energy bill. The fact people are so concerned isn’t surprising considering that prices have risen by a whopping 63% between 2000 and 2010.

Tips and tricks to save energy

The main aim of Big Energy Week is to give tips and tricks on how to save money on your bills. So, today we held a live energy Q&A with a panel of experts to do just that. We had a vast array of questions coming in. Here’s some of the highlights:

Laura asked about energy price cuts: I am with an energy company that dropped its prices recently, but I switched to a fixed tariff during the latest round of price hikes. Will I benefit from the cuts?

Charlotte Berry of Which? Switch said: ‘Unfortunately, if you’ve switched to a fixed price tariff then you won’t see your rates lowered as a result of the recent drops. However, since the drops are quite small compared to the rises last year you may still be on the best deal for you.’

Lee asked about Feed-in tariffs: What has happened to grants for solar energy and wind energy, are they still available and worthwhile in today’s energy market?

Sylvia Baron, Which? energy expert, answered: ‘The Feed-in tariff, which pays households for installing renewable energy like wind and solar is still on-going.

‘The rate for wind hasn’t changed yet, but might drop a bit in April. However, the rates for solar panels could be halved under government proposals. This has been challenged in court and the government is now appealing – we’ll know in the next few weeks what the outcome will be.’

Brian asked about cutting bills: Having just been made redundant at 60, what advice can you give to reduce energy bills and make my house more energy efficient?

Doug Malcolm of British Gas answered: ‘My best advice would be to check the insulation levels within your property. By ensuring you have adequate insulation in your loft you can save yourself up to £175 a year on your heating bills. Further to this if you have a property with cavity walls you could have these insulated and save up to £145 a year.

‘There are grants and promotions available throughout the market place which may result in getting either free or discounted insulation depending on your circumstances.’

So, will any of those answers help you cut your energy bills? If not, or you have a specific question you’d like answered, post your energy related questions or concerns below and our experts will get back to you as soon as they can.

Comments
Member

Far too often I see mention of all the grants available for insulation, but nobody mentions the fact that those of us who live in houses with single brick walls are always ignored, although we are the ones most in need of help to reduce our energy usage. When are we going to see grants for us?

Member

Hello Santorr

Solid walls can be insulated but the cost is quite high: £5,500-£8,500 for internal wall insualtion and £9,400-£13,000 for external wall insulation. The savings though are about £445-£480 a year.

There are no grants currently available under any national schemes for insulation (except for low-income and vulnerable consumers), and, in the current economic climate it is unlikely that the Government is going to introduce any. The current scheme (CERT) which funds discounted or free loft and cavity wall insulation is funded through consumers’ energy bills and it hardly funds any solid wall insulation because it is much more expensive.

But with the Green Deal, due to come in later this year, the Government is planning to move away from this towards a market-based product and use energy bills to help support this, including through subsidy for solid wall insulation. See our Which? Conversation on the new Energy Company Obligation (ECO): https://conversation.which.co.uk/energy-home/eco-scheme-energy-company-obligation-cert-green-deal/ .

Member

I’m reluctant to be polite and say thank you for your comment, since it only repeats the answers I’ve been given far too often, but I’ll repeat a comment I’ve posted on another page – that even cheap or interest free loans would help – what apart twisting the arms of the banks, that, theoretically, we own.

Member

What a shame that we can’t have a ‘feed in tariff’ type scheme for these single wall insulations, though with the above figures we’d be looking at about 15 years before payback.

If the government really is going to keep to its’ green credentials, and not be fined for energy usage/CO2 output, it has to come up with out-of-the-box thinking on these ones. How about a tax led initiative for houses with such issues, for example: you want to install one, HMRC gives you tax relief to help pay for it (like we see with benefits, child care, etc). This would hopefully then open the scope for lower tax/non tax home owners to get direct help with such initiatives as money won’t be spent on those who could afford it (when spread over time, but not 15 years!)