Friday 26th February is “Fuel Poverty Awareness Day” and Choice would like to use the opportunity to highlight this issue to our customers.
A fuel poor household is one that needs to spend more than 10% of its annual income on energy and it is associated with the ability to keep your home adequately warm at a reasonable cost. It is generally caused by a combination of low income, expensive fuel costs, poor household energy efficiency and sometimes under-occupancy. In Northern Ireland, Fuel Poverty has proven to be a major issue with 42% of homes in 2011 estimated to be in fuel poverty, which was higher than the Republic of Ireland, other regions of the UK, and also one of the highest in Western Europe.
The cost of energy is one major concern for consumers with significant price increases between 2009 and 2012. In recent years, the price of heating oil, gas and electricity has either frozen or fallen but there are still opportunities to reduce your energy costs by comparing prices of different suppliers to ensure that you are getting the best deal.
Improving income levels is more challenging but one recommendation is to ensure you have a benefits check carried out so you are receiving what you are entitled to. Last year nearly 5,000 people who contacted the Benefits Advice Line received advice about unclaimed benefits and were able to make successful claims of almost £17million in benefits and arrears. This means they were around £65/week better off! To get further advise contact a Benefits Advisor at NI Direct on 0800 232 1271
More information can be found using the links below:
http://www.consumercouncil.org.uk/energy/fuel-poverty (further useful links on this website)