Citizens Advice on managing energy bills this winter.

I am a single parent with two kids and I’m really worried about how I’ll afford to pay my energy bills when I have to start putting the heating and lights on more now winter is here. At the moment I just about have enough money to cover my bills but there is nothing left over. The thought of getting into debt keeps me awake at night but the idea of my children being cold and possibly unwell as a result is just unbearable. What can I do?

You are not alone – a record number of people came to Citizens Advice with energy debt in the first four months of 2023 (32,400) – a 112% increase on the same period in 2020 (15,200).

There are things you can do to feel in control when it comes to your energy bills. These tips won’t cover all the extra costs, but they can make a difference:

  • Check your thermostat: A room temperature between 18°C and 21°C is ideal for most people. Try turning your thermostat down by one degree within this range – it could save you around £115 a year. If a medical condition means you need a warmer home, ask your GP what room temperature you should aim for.
  • Keep the heat in: Check your home for any gaps in the doors, windows and floors. Blocking any holes where you could get a draught could save you around £30 a year. It is important to allow for some ventilation as without it mould and damp can form.
  • Turn off anything you’re not using: Turning your appliances, like TVs and washing machines, off instead of leaving them on standby could save around £60 a year. Turning off lights when you’re not using them – even if it’s just off for a few seconds – could save around £25 a year.
  • Consider using LED lightbulbs, which cost less to run.
  • Watch your water usage: Cutting your shower time by just one minute can make a difference. If everyone in a four-person household with a water meter did this, they could save around £75 a year.

If you’re struggling to afford your energy bills, you don’t have to deal with it alone. Get in touch with Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk and you can get free advice on the help available to you.

Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk can provide advice on this issue and much more, including debt, finances, employment, benefits and family/relationships. You can contact them by phone on: 01449 676060, visit in person at Milton House, 5 Milton Road South, Stowmarket, IP14 1EZ or use the contact form at Opening hours are Monday-Thursday 9.30am–3.30pm and Friday 9.30am–12.30pm.