#PrepareForWinter: top tips on staying warm this winter

It will come as no surprise to anyone living in Northern Ireland that this winter will be a difficult one when it comes to paying energy bills. Since March, we have seen a continued increase in wholesale energy costs, bringing them to unprecedented levels, and as a result, energy suppliers have pushed up their prices multiple times this year. 

Not only this, but as we come into the winter, the furlough scheme and additional Universal Credit payments will come to an end. Additionally, many homes in Northern Ireland are poorly insulated and inefficient, making the risk of fuel poverty even higher…and already 22% of homes live in fuel poverty.


All of this creates a situation where bills are increasing and support is decreasing – a dangerous combination if support is not made available.

With this concern, the NI Fuel Poverty Coalition have launched a new campaign to increase attention on fuel poverty in Northern Ireland, secure support to keep people warm and to help people prepare for winter. This has been split into two key threads:


1. Getting the word out

The first thread is all about providing information, advice and support to households across Northern Ireland, helping them prepare for winter. It will offer support on maximising your income, getting all the support you are entitled to and offer advice on the best way to be more energy efficient in the home. The low or no-cost energy saving tips are offered as a means of making a genuine difference to those who will find it difficult to keep up with bills this winter.

National Energy Action has already listed their top 5 ways to keep warm this year with the use of the Spend Local High Street Voucher. While it might be tempting to splurge on a gift for yourself, it may be a wiser idea to spend this on something a little more long term, such as:

  • Draught proofing your home
  • Investing in energy efficient lighting
  • Updating your heating controls
  • Investing in a slow cooker
  • Topping up your prepayment meter

There are many other ways to save money on your energy bill this winter, many of which we have compiled in our own Advice section on our blog:

You can also contact NI Energy Advice for free independent advice about energy grants and schemes, and other places from which you may find help.




2. Intervention at the right time


People often don’t get support because they slip through the cracks. Consequently, part of the campaign is to detail the support offered by each energy provider and provide information on money advice and debt services that can support individuals in need.

The Fuel Poverty Action guide will be a useful collation of all this information. It will also include support pathways, grants, and other services available to consumers. This Fuel Poverty Action guide will also be used to call for a Fuel Poverty Taskforce with immediate effect.


What else can you do?


There will be people who feel the ‘off’ button is the only option this winter. It is particularly worrying to consider that many older people may suffer because they dare not use energy. Therefore, part of the work of National Energy Action Northern Ireland is to call for a crisis fund.

As mentioned previously, the public will be receiving a NI Spend Local Voucher, and every individual can get involved by donating this to the Crisis fund. If you don’t need the voucher, you can really help someone who does.

Finally, a small action that everyone can take is to help in the campaign to raise awareness that might prompt government action. Write your comments on social media and use the hashtag #PrepareForWinter, helping everyone wake up to the perfect storm heading our way.


Words and Action


What makes this campaign so important is the mix of words and action. While we all need to raise awareness, genuine support and change must be made to ensure no one goes cold.

If you feel you can support the campaign, why not contact the Policy and Campaigns office, Jamie Miller? We will certainly be doing all we can to make sure we can all stay warm this winter.


More Posts

Stay in the know...

Keep up to date with all the latest energy news, deals and advice from Power to Switch