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Practical ways to help residents stay warm this winter

Centre for Sustainable Energy share practical ways you can support your community to keep warm this winter, as well as the financial support that is currently available for helping with energy bills.

With the colder weather setting in and energy bills remaining high, we know that many people across the country are worried about how to keep their homes warm this winter. In response, we want to outline what support is available to Big Local partnerships and your communities.

We have a real issue with fuel poverty in our Big Local. Several organisations have come and gone after short stints advising residents about energy saving technologies. Unfortunately, the situation has become quite dire with the surge in energy costs.
Dadirai Tsopo, Community development worker at Welsh House Farm Big Local

Energy price cap update

The latest energy price cap, set by energy regulator Ofgem, was announced on 1 October 2023. This is a cap on the unit price of energy, not on your bill. This means that a typical household will pay £1,923 a year on their energy bill, down from £2,074 last year. However, if you use more than a typical household, you will pay more.

Whilst it is good news that energy prices are coming down, households will no longer receive the £400 universal energy grant that was available to everyone last year, making it harder for lots of people to stay warm in their homes. Energy prices are still nearly double what they were in 2020 and we know that many people in the UK will still struggle to pay their energy bills this winter.

However, there are ways in which you can support your community with staying warm this winter.

Signpost available support

It’s important to be able to signpost people to the organisations that have specialist and experienced advisors who can help local residents. You don’t need to know all the answers. In fact, your role in signposting is just as important as the advice itself and will help to decrease stigma around asking for support.

You could start with something as simple as compiling helpful information into something that is digestible and accessible for your community e.g. a webpage or poster outlining telephones numbers, websites, and links where your residents can get further support. Here’s a starter for ten on things you could include:

National grants and support

Warm home discount: People on low incomes and in receipt of certain benefits, including pension credit and job seekers allowance, can get £150 off their electricity bill.  This discount is usually automatically applied to your bill and set up through your benefits, but it is always worth checking that it is being applied. You can find out the full eligibility and how to check that it is applied here.

Winter fuel payment: If you were born on or before 24 September 1957 you are entitled to the winter fuel payment, usually made in November or December. The Winter Fuel Payment scheme allows you receive between £150 and £300 towards your energy costs. If you are already have a state pension or are on pension credit, then you should automatically receive this; you can also apply for the payment here.

Priority Services Register (PSR): The priority services register is available for vulnerable people to receive extra support and advice with their energy (e.g. more accessible bills, improved accessibility of meters, more lenient payment plans, priority reconnection in the event of a power cut). There are two types of PSR:

  • the supplier priority services register (you can register for this through your supplier)
  • the distributors priority services register (you can register for this through your energy distributor)

Find out who your distributor is here.

Local support

Support will vary in each area so you may need to look at what your local council offers and find out what charities in your area can offer.

  • Fuel vouchers are often administered through your local council and each council will have its own process; often this is done via a local charity. You can find your local council here.
  • Energy suppliers will often have hardship funds and support for how to manage bills, there is a good list of what energy companies can offer here.

Share advice leaflets

CSE have a series of free leaflets on energy saving, including our most viewed leaflet this month: ‘How much electricity am I using?’.

Why not print these out and place them in a community space? Or ask other local services if you are able to place the leaflets in their communal areas?

Run a local energy awareness campaign

With our support, DY10 Big Local ran a local energy awareness campaign last winter. They ran a social media campaign to share key information and resources, delivered energy awareness training for local volunteers, and hosted an ‘energy awareness table’ at a local drop-in event, running a prize draw to encourage residents to engage with them.

CSE advised me on what type of topics would be most useful and formulated a schedule detailing what to post and when. This proved really popular and we had two very happy slow cooker winners from the DY10 area!

Anna Tidmarsh, Project support worker at DY10 Big Local

Find out how to run your own local energy awareness campaign here.

Run your own energy workshops

Creating resilience within your own communities is a great way to respond to the energy crisis. Workshops can be be a fun and engaging way to do this, as they provide a relaxed environment in which people feel like they can talk about their energy experiences and share tips.

  • Draught proofing snake workshop: This is a fun way to engage people in energy and gives people an immediate, very low-cost way to make their home warmer and more comfortable. Whilst people are making the snakes, you can talk them through broader energy saving and DIY draught proofing tips. You can also make sure they know about local services that can help. Find out how to run your own here.
  • Slow cooker workshop: A slow cooker workshop is a great social opportunity to get people together, have a chat and share some food. By getting people involved in the cooking of a slow cooker meal, you can show members of your community the benefits of slow cooking as a way to save energy in the home. Here, there is also time to talk about energy more broadly – we’ve experienced local residents talking to each other about smart meters, tips for energy use and sharing recipes. Find out how to run your own here.

Reach out!

If you would like support with any of the ideas above, or other energy or climate-related project, use the form below to get in touch or speak to your area advisor or coordinator. We’d love to help you!

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About the author
Tess Rushton

Tess Rushton works in the communities team for Centre for Sustainable Energy – an energy charity who work on finding solutions to the threat of climate change and the misery of cold homes.

Working with communities is hugely rewarding – supporting and seeing change at a local level is inspiring and gives me hope in what are daunting and challenging times.