This year we have been lucky with a mild autumn so we have a chance to get our houses in order before the cold weather returns. Changing the way we run our homes can take time, so it is best to start now.
If you are worried about the cost of gas and electricity, check that you are on the cheapest available energy tariff and whether you could save money by paying by direct debit or by pre-paying. You can check online with any of the fuel comparison sites and you can ask your current supplier for the best tariff for your consumption.
Checking on insulation should be a priority. Cavity wall insulation cuts a typical home’s bills by £135 each year, and loft insulation by £175. The energy companies are currently promoting offers that can save around £150. Check with your supplier and other providers online for the best deal. Tesco is also offering similar deals via www.tescohomeefficiency.com.
Most people aged over 60 are eligible for Winter Fuel Payments. Under the Government’s scheme, you can make a claim if you were born on or before 5 January 1951 and you lived in Great Britain or Northern Ireland on any day in the week of 19–25 September 2011. If you received a payment last year, you should receive it this time too. If you are a new claimant or if you fail to receive yours, go to www.direct.gov.uk and search for ‘Winter Fuel Payment’.
Some constituents will be eligible for grants, particularly the Warm Front Grant. You can search these easily on www.energysavingtrust.org.uk and click on ‘Grants and Discounts’. You can also check the Solihull Council website www.solihull.gov.uk and search for ‘energy efficiency’.
With so much information available online it is a good idea to offer help to elderly neighbours and relatives who might not be familiar with computers - these are often the people who need help most. And offering to draft-proof around any badly fitting doors or windows can make all the difference.