Tag Archives: energy bills

Just EPC see demand for EPCs Rise as Green Deal Approaches

October sees the launch in the domestic property market for the long awaited Green Deal energy efficiency initiative. Here at Just EPC we are already receiving hundreds of calls from people inquiring about Energy Performance Certificates in relation to eligibility for Green Deal finance. The Green Deal offers domestic property owners a means by which to finance energy efficiency improvements and property upgrades at no up front cost, providing the upgrades see a return equal to or above the initial investment by way of reduced energy bills.

In order for this finance to be applied for, a valid Residential EPC must be provided or commissioned first. The EPC Assessor will draft a sheet of recommendations that allows the homeowner to see how much money they could be saving if they went ahead with energy efficiency upgrades. The assessor will also apply an EPC rating to the property between ‘A. and ‘G’. This allows you to see how energy efficient your house actually is and how much money you could save if improvements were to be carried out.

The commercial property sector in relation to SMEs (small to medium enterprises) may also be eligible for Green Deal finance in October as several green deal providers have already stated that they wish to offer their services out to the commercial sector, after having received many calls from businesses in relation to upgrading their properties. A Commercial EPC would be required in order to apply for Green Deal finance in the same respect as the domestic property market.

We are looking forward to the coming months as we expect to see a significant rise in the amount of EPCs requested in the build up to October for both domestic and commercial alike. With over 3000 fully registered and certified energy assessors nationwide, we are more than ready for the challenge. An EPC can be turned over in as little as seven days and in some cases 24hrs depending on circumstances with prices starting as low as GBP34.99. The process is simple and straightforward and will leave the client in a much better position to determine how best to improve the overall energy efficiency of their property, which in turn will not only reduce green house gas emissions but also help to save money on energy bills over time.

So remember if you wish to apply for Green Deal finance, then the first thing you require is a valid Energy Performance Certificate. This is the first step on the Green Deal journey and Just EPC are looking forward to playing their part in the biggest energy efficiency initiative the UK property sector has ever seen.

Via EPR Network
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npower To Launch New TV Campaign

npower will launch a new TV campaign promoting its new easier to understand bills from the beginning of February.

The new npower energy bills have been designed incorporating feedback from both Consumer Focus (the statutory consumer champion for the UK) and Which?. The bill carries the Plain English Crystal Mark for its ‘Jargon Busting’ page.

The new 20 second TV ad, designed and produced by Aardman Animations, features ‘Penny’, npower’s customer service representative, solving a ‘Countdown-style’ conundrum.

The new TV ad will be supported by a multi-media campaign that includes sponsorship of regional quiz and crossword pages, print advertising in match-day programmes across npower Football League clubs and a competition to win an Apple Ipad on npower.com

Kevin Peake, marketing director at npower said: “Over the last year a criticism often levelled at energy suppliers is that gas and electricity bills can be complicated to understand. We decided at an early stage to take action and started to make changes to the lay-out.

“We deliberately sought feedback from some of the industry’s fiercest critics, Consumer Focus and Which? and, where possible, we have included their recommendations. We will continue to seek feedback and constantly review our bills.”

Via EPR Network
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Guide To Stay Safe And Warm In A Winter Power Cut

Householders are being urged to cut out and keep a handy guide on staying safe and warm in the event of a winter power cut. The guide was pulled together by uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service, after many households were left without power during the recent big freeze.

Emma Bush, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says:”With this winter expected to be the coldest in 30 years and more snowfall predicted to be on the way, consumers should be as prepared as possible for any further power cuts.

“Energy companies will always try to get the supply back up and running again as quickly as possible, but in severe weather such as snow this can take time. If you are disabled, chronically ill, elderly or have young children in your home, let your supplier know as they may need to make you a priority.”

The uSwitch.com cut out and keep guide to surviving a winter power cut:

1.Be prepared – make sure you keep torches, spare batteries, candles and matches in an easy to get to cupboard or drawer and that all your family knows where they are. Keep a battery-powered radio tuned into a local station for information and have important numbers stored on a charged mobile phone.
2.Check – turn off all your electrical appliances and lights, but leave one light switched on so you know when the power is back on. Check whether neighbours have power or not. If it’s just your home affected, check your fuse box first before calling your supplier.
3.Stay warm – this is a priority. If a power cut leaves you without any heating move the whole family into one room, preferably south facing, and make sure you wear several layers of clothing, including a hat, scarf and coat if necessary. Use sleeping bags for extra warmth.
4.Stay safe – you can use other forms of heating such as paraffin stoves, but always read the instructions carefully and make sure the room is well ventilated. If you’re going to cook on a BBQ make sure you only do it outdoors. Never leave candles or heating appliances in unoccupied rooms.
5.Store water – if a power cut lasts for more than a few hours you will need to start storing water as the water supply may start to be affected. Fill saucepans, buckets, empty bottles or even the bath with water. If you are able to boil some water keep it in thermos flasks for warm drinks and fill hot water bottles to help stay warm.
6.Keep food fresh – if the freezer loses power do not open the door unless you have to, frozen food can last for around a day. The fridge is more of a problem, but if it is cold enough you can store food outside. Use a cardboard box with newspaper to stop it from freezing though.
7.Be a good neighbour – check on any elderly or vulnerable neighbours. If they’re struggling to keep warm invite them into your home – the more bodies, the more heat and the safer they should be.
8.Sub zero – if the temperature falls below freezing use towels and blankets to help insulate exposed water pipes. The last thing you need is a burst pipe.
9.After the power cut – check water pipes for leaks, reset electric timers and clocks and check the food in your freezer. If food has thawed do not refreeze as it could make anyone eating it ill.

Via EPR Network
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£319 Million Investment Could Spell Future Bill Misery For Consumers

Ofgem yesterday published final proposals for funding the first tranche of projects from a potential GBP1 billion package of extra investment in Britain’s high-voltage networks. The first tranche, totalling GBP319 million, will help connect Great Britain’s growing renewable electricity generation. However, this is just part of a much broader GBP233.5 billion investment programme that is expected to add GBP548 a year in total onto household energy bills, warns uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service. And while the investment is needed, consumers must start preparing for the eventual impact on their energy bills.

Will Marples, energy expert at uSwitch.com, comments: “This announcement is one of many that consumers can expect to hear about huge investments being made to secure our longer-term energy supplies. The investment is crucial, but there can be no doubt that it will have an impact on our future energy bills and this has to be explained to consumers now so that they can start taking action to protect themselves in the future.

“The average household energy bill today is GBP1,239 a year and the additional cost of investment alone is expected to add GBP548 a year onto our bills. Ongoing pricing trends coupled with this investment could see household energy bills hit as high as GBP4,733 a year by 2020, nearly four times higher than they are today.

“This is a wake-up call for us all. The GBP5,000 a year energy bill may seem like an outside possibility, but we have to remember that energy bills doubled in the last five years alone and that the huge investment needed to keep the lights on in Britain will alone add GBP548 a year onto our bills. The fact is we are entering a new era of high cost energy and households will have to adapt their behaviour accordingly.

“Consumers have to start taking action now to future-proof themselves against far higher energy bills. My advice is to invest in making your home more energy efficient, reduce the amount of energy you use and make sure you are paying the lowest possible price for it. Big projects such as a new energy efficient boiler or home insulation can be expensive, but you can speak to your supplier or the Energy Saving Trust to see if you can get any financial support to help with it. Any savings you make through cutting the price of your energy could also be re-invested into energy efficiency measures so that you reap even greater rewards in the future.”

Via EPR Network
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uSwitch.com Comments on Today’s Announcement on Smart Meters

uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service, welcomes today’s announcement on smart meters, but believes there are still a number of issues that need to be ironed out before the launch. Prime importance is to ensure that the final specification of the meters will meet consumers’ needs and that enough focus is given to educating consumers on their use.

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “The introduction of smart meters is a positive step forward in the drive to ensure that all households get accurate, up-to-date energy bills and have the information they need to be able to monitor and lower their energy usage.

“Today’s announcement shows that the Government and the energy industry are picking up the pace, although there are still a number of issues to iron out. The key concern for consumers is cost and how much the roll out of smart metering is likely to add to household energy bills. Our research shows that only 19% of consumers believe that a significant increase in household energy bills is a price worth paying and 57% of people are not even aware of what smart meters are. This suggests that without a proper education and consumer engagement programme there could be an uphill battle persuading households that they should be picking up the tab.

“There is much to be gained from the roll-out of smart meters so it’s vital that all parties involved keep their eye on the main prize which is the benefit it will bring to consumers and the competitive market. If households are to get maximum value the specification has to be right and designed to put easy-to-understand information at people’s finger tips, including historical usage data so they can manage their energy more easily, compare prices and find an energy plan or supplier that suits their needs. This is a huge opportunity for the industry to get consumers engaged in managing household energy, but there will only be one opportunity to get it right.”

Via EPR Network
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Direct Debit Fears Could Cost Consumers £33.5 Million

Ofgem is being urged to act quickly to stem the flow of consumers ditching direct debits and opting to pay energy bills by cash or cheque instead. New data f r o m uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service, shows a 7.3% drop in the number of switchers paying by fixed monthly direct debit, falling f r o m 92% a year ago to 85.3% today. Across the market it could mean 342,000 households less a year taking up the option and losing out on discounts totalling £33.5 million as a result.

According to Ofgem, over 40% of customers pay their energy bills by direct debit. Not only is this payment method convenient, but it is cheaper too as suppliers give discounts to customers paying in this way. These amount to £98 a year on average. The impact on household bills is noticeable – while the average household energy bill for a customer on a standard plan paying by cash or cheque is £1,239, this drops to £1,141 on average for those paying by direct debit.

More importantly, paying by direct debit is the gateway to suppliers’ cheapest tariffs – these can be found on their online energy plans. To get them, consumers need to pay by direct debit. The average household energy bill for an online customer is £1,021 – £218 cheaper than for a customer on a standard plan paying by cash or cheque.

But despite the cost implications, consumers are starting to shun direct debits. According to uSwitch.com this stems back to last year’s 42% or £381 price hikes which only hit many direct debit customers this year. Almost a third (30%) only had their direct debits increased in the first three months of this year – even though the price increases happened last year. As a result, many were playing catch up to make up for months of under paying and so were shocked when their supplier advised them how much their direct debit had to be adjusted by to compensate.

Not surprisingly, when advised of increases to direct debits a third of people (33%) felt compelled to contact their supplier. Following this 4% cancelled their direct debit even though this would increase the cost of their energy. And they’re not alone – according to the new data there has also been a 217% increase in people choosing prepayment meters (up f r o m 0.6% to 1.9%) and a 106% increase in people choosing variable direct debits – up f r o m 1.6% to 3.3%. In total, these shifts in payment methods could see 351,900 households paying more for their energy than they need to this year.

“Paying by direct debit opens the path to the cheapest energy prices in the market – this is not something to give up without a fight. If you are worried about the amount you are paying, contact your supplier to find out whether the monthly payment can be lowered. Make sure you are paying the lowest possible price for your energy by shopping around, cut down on the amount of energy you use and make sure you or your supplier is taking regular meter readings. Above all, be aware that coming off fixed monthly direct debit and paying by cash, cheque or variable direct debit will cost you money. This should always be a last resort.”

Via EPR Network
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Should We Expect Further Price Cuts As British Gas Reports Increase In Residential Profits?

•Centrica’s profits fall 5%, while British Gas residential reports an increase in half year operating profits of 80% to £299 million (2008: £166 million)

energy Price Cuts

•Falling wholesale prices contribute to increased half year profits for British Gas residential

•Some of the benefits of falling wholesale prices already passed onto customers – British Gas has cut its prices twice this year shaving 10% or £126 in total off the average dual fuel bill

•Increase in profits should cushion customers from future price increases, and may even allow for further price cuts

• Average household bill for a dual fuel British Gas customer has dropped from £1,328 to £1,202 this year – £290 or 32% higher than its average bill of £912 on the 1st January 2008

•British Gas has led the field in offering the most competitive energy plan, only recently losing its crown to EDF Energy.

Centrica’s results today reveal that while overall profits have fallen, British Gas residential has reported a significant uplift in profits as a result of falling wholesale prices. Some of these benefits have already been passed onto customers with two price cuts this year totalling £126 or 10%.

This increase in profits should mean that customers can expect to be cushioned for some time from future price increases – last year BG increased prices by £416 or 46% – and there may even be the possibility of further price cuts to come

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says:”This increase in profits can only be a good thing for British Gas customers. While customers have already benefitted from two price cuts this year, today’s results should hopefully give them the peace of mind that they are unlikely to see any price increases for some time, and may even benefit from a further price cut. This year British Gas has led the field in offering the most competitive online plan in the market only recently losing its crown to French rival, EDF Energy. With today’s announcement, British Gas is in a strong position to fight back and reclaim the spot as Britain’s cheapest supplier.

“But rather than holding out for further price cuts, consumers should help themselves now by making sure they are paying the lowest possible price for their energy and learning to use less of it. Moving to dual fuel, paying by direct debit and signing up to an online plan will all help save money – in fact switching to a competitive plan could cut your energy bill by up to £425.”

About uSwitch:
uSwitch.com is a free, impartial online and telephone-based comparison and switching service, helping consumers compare prices on gas, electricity, water, heating cover, home telephone, broadband, digital television, mobile phones, personal finance products and car insurance.

Via EPR Network
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Do You Think You Understand Your Energy Bills?

uSwitch.com is campaigning for household energy bills to be made simpler, clearer and easier for consumers to understand after asking an examining board to give an independent assessment of the state of Britain’s energy bills. The findings were shocking – 45% of Brits may not actually be qualified enough to understand a household energy bill.

Energy Bills

According to examiners, people would need at least a higher grade GCSE or O’ level in maths to be able to get to grips with a household energy bill. This is because of the complexity and format of the information provided. But last year only 55% of GCSE maths students achieved this. Based on this pass rate, almost half of the population could be expected to struggle to understand an energy bill.

In reality, three quarters of people (75%) find energy bills confusing and 57% find it difficult to work out how their bill has been calculated. Because of this consumers are being urged to take action by:

-Joining the ‘Simpler, clearer, easier’ Facebook group: www.uSwitch.com/simpler-clearer-easier – Signing the ‘Better bills‘ petition: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/betterbills/ – Taking part in the uSwitch.com Energy Bill Challengewww.uSwitch.com/bill-challenge

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com says:”You shouldn’t need to be an ‘A’ grade student to be able to understand your energy bills. As things currently stand 45% of consumers are in danger of being excluded because of the complex way in which energy bills are written and presented today.”

Ann Robinson continues: “Ofgem is looking to address this, but it’s vital that consumers make their voices heard too. Take the challenge, join the ‘Simpler, clearer, easier’ group on Facebook and sign our e-Petition to get energy bills made simpler, clearer and easier for consumers to understand.”

The uSwitch.com Energy Bill Challenge:

45% of people are not sufficiently qualified to understand a household energy bill – are you one of them? Find out if you’ve got what it takes to get to the bottom of a typical bill by taking the uSwitch.com Energy Bill Challenge at:


Have paper, a pen and a calculator to hand and don’t forget to visit Facebook afterwards to let us know how you got on. And just in case you think it’s too easy, here’s what the Head of Mathematics at the examining board said:

Chair & Head of Mathematics, Edexcel:The amount of information, lack of explanations and format of the bills make them very difficult to process…… These things would make them inaccessible for most GCSE candidates unless considerable explanation was given.”

Good luck!

For more information visit www.uSwitch.com or call 0800 093 06 07

Via EPR Network
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Baffling Utility Bills Leave Consumers Confused, Bemused And Definitely Not Amused

Consumers are being left confused, badly informed and potentially vulnerable to debt because of the poor quality of some major household bills, according to uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service. The warning comes after new research revealed stark differences in the standard of bills being issued by different industry sectors. While some are simple and straightforward for people to understand, others are leaving consumers totally confused.

Energy suppliers, water companies and home telephone and broadband providers are responsible for the most confusing household bills. Of these, energy bills appear to be the most complicated – three quarters (75%) of consumers find them confusing. Other utility providers are not doing much better either – 59% of consumers find their home telephone, broadband and DTV bills confusing, matched by those left confused by water bills (59%).

Worryingly, 68% of consumers find energy bills harder to understand than other household bills. On average households are spending £1,243 a year on energy bills, but only four in ten consumers (40%) find it easy to work out how their energy company has calculated their bill. Suppliers also seem to be failing to communicate on a basic level with their customers – only 39% of people think that their energy bills are written in plain English. Less than half (45%) think that the name of their energy plan is easy to understand.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are banks and building societies, where almost three quarters (72%) of consumers find their bills and statements simple and straightforward to understand. Personal finance companies generally seem to be issuing customer-friendly information in a format that most people can understand – just 41% of consumers find credit and store card bills confusing.

The findings suggest that the energy industry is lagging behind other sectors in being able to communicate simply and clearly with customers. This could leave consumers disadvantaged as energy bills account for a sizeable chunk of the average annual household budget. Experts also predict that energy bills will quadruple within the next 10 years. If consumers are to be able to manage this aspect of their budget, and be able to make an informed decision when switching, they need to be able to understand basic information such as their consumption, spend and tariff details.

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “Nobody likes bills, but they do play a fundamental part in the relationship between a company and its customers. A well-written, clear and concise bill should leave consumers feeling empowered and in control, not bemused. This is why it is so worrying to find that three quarters of us are confused by our energy bills.

“Ofgem has signalled its intention to work with suppliers on improving energy bills. This is a vital piece of work if we are to see well-informed consumers taking full advantage of the competitive energy market. If Ofgem is to succeed in making energy bills simpler, clearer and easier then it has to look outside of the energy industry for ideas on best practice. Judging by our research, it could do far worse than look to banks and building societies, which seem to be leading the way in providing consumers with bills and information they can easily understand.”

About uSwitch:
uSwitch.com is a free, impartial online and telephone-based comparison and switching service, helping consumers compare prices on gas, electricity, water, heating cover, home telephone, broadband, digital television, mobile phones, personal finance products and car insurance.

Via EPR Network
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