Sometimes we all need a little helping hand, especially at the moment, but did you know you can get extra help from your energy supplier if you need it…
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact on us all and as we approach the coldest time of year its a good idea to check what help is available from your energy supplier. And remember if you depend on electrical equipment for day to day care, make sure to register on the NIE Critical Care Register.
Customer Care Register
All energy suppliers in Northern Ireland have a ‘Customer Care Register’ which helps them know which customers need additional support.
Customer Care Registers are there to help customers who may be elderly, visually impaired, hearing impaired, have a long term medical condition, are chronically sick or vulnerable. Suppliers will not ask for proof of any health issue or vulnerability – you only have to make them aware of your needs and they can agree with you what support is most appropriate.
Who can register for support?
There are no strict terms or criteria in terms of vulnerability. So if extra support would make your life easier then it makes sense to sign up to your energy suppliers’ Customer Care Register.
What support is available?
Each supplier operates their own Customer Care Register so the actual support on offer will vary. However, support will generally include things such as…
- Password scheme: so you know a call to discuss your energy account is genuine.
- Bill nominee scheme: Bills and other communications can be copied to a family member or carer.
- Special controls and adaptors: to make it easier to use electrical and gas appliances.
- Meter move: If your meter is difficult to access you can ask for it to be moved to an easier to reach place.
- Help understanding bills: Bills can be supplied in large print, braille or talking bills to help access this information
- Meter Read: Suppliers will arrange to read the meter at least once each quarter if you are unable to read the meter.
- Gas Safety Check: a free annual gas safety inspection.
- Energy Efficiency Advice: information on the efficient use of electricity and gas appliances.
Your supplier may offer other support relevant to your needs – each supplier has a Code of Practice which sets out in detail the support they offer. These are available on each suppliers website or can be requested by phone or email.
How to register for a Customer Care Register
Signing up is free – to be added to the Customer Care Register, you simply need to contact your energy supplier by phone or email. Some suppliers have an application form on their website which you can complete and return.
Suppliers should also contact you on an annual basis to check if your support needs are the same or if anything has changed.
Don’t get confused between ‘Customer Care Register’ and ‘Critical Care Register’
Often people get mixed up between Customer Care Registers and the Critical Care Registers – it’s understandable, they sound the pretty much the same.
But here is the difference…
Customer Care Registers are managed by the energy supplier themselves and are aimed at providing additional support and help to their customers.
Critical Care Register is operated by Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) who manage the electricity network. This register is used to keep details of people who rely on life-supporting electrical equipment for their day to day care. This could include oxygen concentrators, electric chairlift, home dialysis or even vital medicines that require refrigeration.
Anyone on the Critical Care Register will receive up-to-date information by phone during a power cut or a planned interruption of supply. In the event of an un-planned power cut your call will be given priority. NIE Networks will then contact you regularly during the power cut with up to date information.
Electricity and gas suppliers continue to communicate with all their customers and provide information on their website and across their social media channels during the Covid-19 pandemic. If you require any assistance or are having difficulty making payments its important to get in touch with your supplier as soon as possible. They will work with you to understand your situation and find ways to manage any payment issues.
So remember ‘Customer Care Registers’ are managed by suppliers to provide you with extra help and the ‘Critical Care Register’ offers support for customers who rely on electricity for day to day care.
If you, or someone you know, would benefit from the extra support offered by the Customer Care Register it makes sense to get registered and benefit from the help on offer. And if you rely on electricity for life-supporting electrical equipment it’s important to get on the Critical Care Register.
And if you are having any issues with your energy supply or difficulties making payment get in touch with your supplier as soon as possible.