Everyone across Bristol has seen a huge increase in their energy bills. With the wider national cost of living crisis, more and more people are worried about turning on their heating because they simply can’t afford it.
The Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) is a charity supporting people and organisations to tackle the climate emergency and end the suffering caused by cold homes. Every day, CSE energy advisors speak to Bristol people struggling with energy bills or expensive heating systems, or in cold and draughty homes.
It’s estimated around 6.5 million households in the UK are in fuel poverty. Fuel poverty is when people must spend a high proportion of their income to keep their home warm. Expensive energy tariffs and low incomes mean people can’t afford to keep warm. In 2020, government stats found around 14% of households across Bristol were in fuel poverty but this number will be much higher now, in line with national trends.
Huge demand for energy saving advice and debt support
CSE is experiencing a fourfold demand for our services. As well as a growth in demand, there’s also been a big shift in the type of advice we are giving. We are speaking to many people whose mental health is suffering. Callers are increasingly having to make tough choices about essentials like energy, food and clothes.
Working together across the city
The CSE energy advice website is a great place to start if you need energy advice or support.
We offer a Tenants Advice (TEA) service for Bristol City Council social housing tenants and Warm Homes and Money (WHAM), our fuel poverty partnership single point of contact service.
CSE’s freephone telephone advice service supports tens of thousands of people every year. But the charity does not have funding to cover the costs of increased demand. CSE has subsidised the service using its charitable reserves for the last five years but is no longer able to sustain this. Please support our Share the Warmth Appeal.
How to save energy in your community building
If you run, lease or own a community building you’re probably thinking about the rising cost of energy bills and how this is going to impact how your building is used. We’ve got some energy saving tips for this here.
How you can lower your energy bills this winter
Read your meter:
Keep on top of your energy meter readings and pass them on to your fuel supplier. This will make sure you only pay for what you use, and not paying an estimation. Find out how to do this here.
Save money by using your heating controls properly:
Decent central heating controls can help you heat your home efficiently and makes sure you don’t waste money or heat. Find out how to do this here or watch these videos. If you have night storage heaters, here is some information on how to use them well.
Avoid leaking heat:
In poorly built homes heat can leak through walls, windows, roofs and doors, which wastes energy and money. Insulating your whole house can be costly, but it can save money in the long run. You can install some low-cost measures yourself, such as draughtproofing to stop warm air escaping or fitting low-cost secondary glazing if double glazing is too costly or you’re not allowed to install it in your home.
The Cold Homes Energy Efficiency Survey Experts Project is a Bristol-based not-for-profit Community Interest Company that carries out surveys to see where your home is losing heat. Surveys start at £135 but are free to people who live in buildings that lose a lot of heat or can’t afford to heat their homes.
Should I turn off the heating to save money?
We don’t advise anyone to turn off their heating because this could cause complications with health conditions or lead to damp and mould. Keep your heating between 18-21°. Around 8,500 people die every year due to cold homes and this number is sadly expected to rise this winter. You can find out more about cold homes and health here.
What else could I be doing to save energy?
Activities like washing clothes, dishwashing, showers and cooking all add up. Taking steps to reduce the frequency or time spent doing these will help save money. You can find out how much energy typical appliances use here.
Look out for green deals. The Bright Green Homes scheme allows eligible households to receive up to £25,000 of funding to install a range of energy saving technologies through the government’s Home Upgrade Grant. This could range from loft and cavity wall insulation to solar panels and air source heat pumps. Find out about eligibility.
I’m in debt with my energy supplier
Don’t ignore the bills, they won’t go away. We advise people to engage with their supplier and pay what you can. All suppliers have an obligation to help their customers.
You ca also visit Bristol City Council’s money advice page or cost of living support webpage for more information on managing money, benefits and support available. Finally, you should take a look at the budgeting tool on the Citizens Advice website.