DT1: How to keep warm this winter

Dorset Echo: Ann Evans from the Citizens Advice Bureau in Dorchester Ann Evans from the Citizens Advice Bureau in Dorchester

Energy prices have been in the news lately and many people will be worrying about paying their bills, writes Ann Evans from the Citizens Advice Bureau in Dorchester.

It is important to keep warm especially if you are in poor health. There are ways that can help keep the cost down. The Green Deal helps with energy efficiency. Call the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 or visit www.adviceguide.org.uk.

Contact your supplier to check if you are on the best tariff for your situation or to change payment plan. Direct Debit is the method preferred by most suppliers but some people find it easier to make smaller payments each week or fortnight, or use a prepayment meter. Fuel Direct is a method for people on means-tested benefits which will take a regular fixed amount from your benefit, should leave enough for essential expenditure and prevent the risk of disconnection.

Switching suppliers is a possibility. Suppliers must give at least 30 days notice of price rises so this could be a time to consider changing. Ofgem has an approved price comparison website or visit the local CAB for help.

There are some grants available. The Warm Home Discount Scheme is available to pensioners receiving Pension Credit and some vulnerable, low-income families, and will take £135 off the bill. The Cold Weather Payment pays £25 for each seven-day period of exceptionally cold weather for households on certain benefits. The Winter Fuel Payment is paid to people of state pension age.

The CAB will be happy help you decide your best option. We can also check if you are receiving the benefits you are entitled to and negotiate an affordable repayment scheme with your supplier.

Contact the CAB at 1 Acland Rd, on 0844 2451291, or visit adviceguide.org.uk.

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