Debt advice centre: 'Save energy, save cash, save the planet'

General view of a central heating thermostat.

Fuel bills are higher in the winter months - Credit: PA

In his latest column, Miles Picknell, manager of the Christians Against Poverty Debt Centre in Upminster, has some tips on how to cut energy use, save money and protect the environment. This comes alongside a Recorder campaign to support people who are struggling as the nights draw in, There With You This Winter.

As we say goodbye to summer, we need to consider the increased cost of darker nights even before the cold weather comes along with higher fuel bills.

And with climate change at a critical point, according to a recent report from the United Nations, it’s more important than ever to consider ways to cut down our energy use.

Read on for some savvy tips to help you protect the environment and save money.

Does switching off and turning down really save money?

The Energy Saving Trust has done a lot of research and found that, yes, you can make significant savings by switching off appliances rather than leaving them on standby – as much as £35 per year.

Think about things like mobile phone chargers, microwaves, TVs and laptops – all of these can be switched off at the plug and cause less damage to the environment.

Manager of the Christians Against Poverty Debt Centre, Upminster

Miles Picknell says that switching appliances off and not leaving them on standby can save money - Credit: Archant

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The same goes for turning down the temperature on your washing machine. If your load is only lightly soiled, try setting the wash to 30 or even 20 degrees.

You’ll save cash in the long run and cut down emissions caused by running your machine at higher temperatures.

If you’re thinking of replacing big household items like washing machines, dishwashers or fridge freezers, then check out sust-it.net for more information on energy-efficient products.

Could you try a bit of low-cost DIY to keep the draughts out?

Now is a great time to get your home prepared for the winter weather by draught-proofing windows, doors and skirting boards.

The less you need to rely on radiators to keep the room at the right temperature, the less energy you’ll use. You can make your own draught excluder by stuffing the leg of an old pair of trousers with rice or bubble wrap!

Heat reflective panels behind radiators are an effective way to prevent precious heat from escaping – you can pick up a roll of radiator reflective foil for less than £10 from your local DIY shop.

For more tips on DIY draught-proofing, see energysavingtrust.org.uk/ad-vice/draught-proofing.

Are you eligible for financial help with energy saving?

There are many different schemes available which you may be able to apply for, depending on your circumstances.

Check if you’re eligible for support on the energysavingtrust.org.uk website.

Remember, winter bills are always more expensive than summer bills so try to budget throughout the year.

Consider setting up a direct debit and paying the same amount each month to balance out your bills, or set up a savings account to build up a buffer and cover the higher costs in the winter.

Weighed down by debt?

If you are struggling with debt problems and are in severe financial difficulties, then we can help. Call free on 0800 328 0006 to seek initial advice and further help.

We are a national debt help charity and our debt help service is completely free.

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