Helping You to Stay Safe, Warm and Well This Winter

Centre for Ageing image, smart meter display

12 December 2023

There are an estimated 6.3 million households currently in fuel poverty (NEA) and nearly 5,000 people died from living in a cold home in 2022/23. We know from various national research by Carers UK and from local support services that many carers are struggling to make ends meet with the rising cost of living affecting yourself and the person you care for. In some households it is very difficult to keep costs down as heating may need to be on more regularly, medical equipment may need to be in use at all times; impacting on energy bills. Yorkshire Energy Doctor CIC and Community Energy Ambassadors have shared some useful information and tips to support you and your loved ones to stay warm and well throughout winter. 

Understand Your Electricity Costs

If you want to reduce your electricity bills, or understand why your electricity is costing so much,
the table below gives the typical running costs of different electrical appliances. As you can see a big expense is the use of an electric shower however, this is based on the shower running for one hour. If you use the shower for 10 minutes then the actual cost is closer to 40p. If you are concerned about your energy bills then it is important that you have a good understanding of which appliances are using the highest amounts of energy so you can make appropriate cutbacks and also understand that some of the lower cost appliances such as a LED lightbulb being on for an hour will not make a significant difference to your bills. 

Understanding you energy costs table

What else can you do to understand your energy costs?

Get a smart meter. A smart meter is a new type of meter that sends meter readings directly to your energy supplier so they your bill is always up-to-date. 

You will also get an in-home monitor that shows you how much energy you are using and how much it is costing you. 

If you have a prepayment meter, getting a smart prepayment meter means that you can top-up via an App, online or over the phone which provides you with ore flexibility. 

Checklist of Energy Saving

Energy Saving Checklist

Use a checklist of energy saving tips to help you make sure you have things in place to cut back on your energy usage and bills. 

The image (left)

Download your own checklist:







How to best manage energy bills?

5.5 million people are behind on their energy bills– up by 2.1 million compared to March 2022 (CAB). You are not alone if you are struggling to keep up with paying your energy bills. Here are some tips on how best to manage your bills:

  1. Be proactive in managing bills and give regular meter readings (monthly)
  2. At a minimum, prioritise giving meter readings around each price change - next on 1st Jan ‘24
  3. If you have a smart meter, check the meter readings are being submitted and that the bills aren’t estimated
  4. Review direct debit payments:
  5. Keep an eye out for new fixed tariffs (worth considering if around 1% more than the price cap)
  6. Be aware that switching supplier will not generate significant financial savings at the current time but may still be
  7. worth it for better customer service or ability to manage account
  8. article/best-and-worst-energy-companies/
  9. If paying a standing order or when the bill comes, switch to a fixed or variable direct debit (average £130 per year
  10. cheaper)
  11. Switch from prepayment meter if not suitable - some suppliers will switch to credit meters free of charge (if pass credit check)
  12. If on Economy 7 meter/tariff – check if this is still appropriate
  13. If in debt, speak to energy supplier as early as possible

What to do if you can’t afford energy bills?

Credit meter:
• Speak to energy supplier as early as possible
• Have to help identify an affordable payment plan
• Ask to spread any arrears over as long a time as possible.
• If more than 12 months, may have to speak to a debt advice charity first (some repayment plans can then go up to 5 years)
• If can’t afford it, may force a prepayment meter (but harder to do now with new code of practice for vulnerable customers)
• Think about applying for Breathing Space scheme with e.g. with Citizens Advice to get 60 day hold on debt collection activity
Prepayment meters:
• Speak to energy supplier re temporary credit
• Access emergency vouchers, e.g. Citizens Advice
• Review any debt repayments through meter
• Make sure energy supplier is aware of vulnerability in the home (Priority Services Register)

Government cost of living help 2023/24

Anyone who receives means-tested benefits
2022 - £650 split into 2 chunks, paid into bank accounts
2023/24 - The payment will be paid again and will increase to £900 split into 3 chunks: £301 (paid 25 April to 17 May ’23), £300 (31 Oct to 19 Nov 23), £299 (Spring ‘24)

Recipients of non-means tested disability benefits
2022 - £150 paid into bank accounts
2023 - This has been repeated in 2023, was paid between 20 June and 4 July 2023

2022 - £300 payment into bank accounts as a top-up to Winter Fuel Payment
2023 - The £300 top-up will be repeated winter 23/24, paid November /December

Report missing Cost of Living payments (£301 or £150 Disability payment)

Who can help me?

Citizens Advice can offer advice in person  or over the telephone on a wide range of issues including:

  • Benefits- Estimated that £15 billion of benefits go unclaimed, including £2.2 billion amongst pensioners for things like Pension Credit and housing benefit. 
  • Debt
  • Housing
  • Energy and Consumer
  • Employment
  • Family
  • Immigration

Local contact details:

Middlesbrough Citizens Advice Bureau

Tel: 01642 802282 Adviceline: 0344 499 4110 E-mail: Address: Middlesbrough CAB, 9 Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 1TH (Wed & Fri: 10am - 1pm). Website contact

Darlington, Redcar and Cleveland Citizens Advice 

Adviceline: 03444111444 Office Tel: 01642 030000 E-mail: Address:  Redcar CAB, 17 Queen Street, Redcar, Cleveland, TS10 1AB.