We’re all feeling the pinch, but we don’t want to talk about it

Fewer than half of people in the East of England would talk to family or friends if they were struggling to pay their bills, a new survey has found – even though research has also found that one in three is having difficulties paying their fuel bills.

And while more than one in ten would take a second job or do overtime to fuel their home only three per cent would investigate sources of help like an energy advice helpline.

The findings – part of a study of more than 2,000 adults commissioned by the Energy Saving Trust – show that as a nation the middle is ‘feeling the pinch’ more than ever before. One in six Brits on salaries between £35,000 and £55,000 is struggling to pay their fuel bills.

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According to the Energy Saving Trust householders can save on average £280 on their energy bills by taking simple energy efficient measures in the home.

Collectively by adopting three simple energy saving behaviours – turning the thermostat down by one degree, turning appliances off standby and doing their washing at 30 degrees – people living in the East of England would save around £247 million on their energy bills.

Chief executive Phillip Sellwood said: “Our survey shows that everyone is feeling the pinch – no matter whether their salary is £15,000 or £55,000. Our message is that taking short-term measures such as cutting out that lunchtime latte is not the answer – it’s treating the symptoms but not the cause.

“Only three per cent of people in the East of England say they’d do the right thing, which is seeking advice from a helpline. By treating the cause not the symptoms and being more energy efficient in the home householders can save on average £280 per year off their energy bill.

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“There are still many free offers of help for loft and cavity wall insulation no matter what your income is.

“Our overriding concern is that those who are ‘struggling in the dark’ are not speaking to anyone about their fuel bill problems.

“We would encourage anyone who is having difficulty paying their utility bill this winter to call our independent energy advice line this week on 0300 123 1234 to see what short and long-term help they can get. We can advise on energy efficiency, as well as signposting householders to get help on dealing with debt and managing fuel bills.

“After you’ve helped yourself, make sure you check on your loved ones. Some vulnerable people are unaware of what they can do to help manage their fuel bills and don’t know where to go for advice.

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“Even if you have the slightest suspicion that a friend or family member is struggling, we would encourage people to direct them to the advice line for much needed support and guidance.”

The Energy Saving Trust has devised three top tips for householders to cut energy-use straight away and help get them on their way to saving £280 per year.

These are:

Turn it off – Make sure you turn your lights, appliances and chargers off when you’re not using them. If you turn a light off for even a few seconds, you will save more energy than it takes the light to start up again, no matter what sort of lights you have. And virtually all electrical and electronic appliances can safely be turned off at the plug without upsetting their systems.

Turn it down – Many households have their central heating set higher than they need, without even realising it. Try turning your room thermostat down by one degree. Every degree that you turn it down could make additional savings to your heating bill.

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Insulate – The Government, energy suppliers and local authorities all provide grants to help insulate your home. Call the energy saving advice line on 0300 123 1234 for details about these grants and offers.

To find out more visit www.bigenergysavingweek.org.uk or call 0300 123 1234.