It looks to be a difficult winter ahead winter with gas bills rising at an unprecedented rate, energy suppliers going out of business and shortages of lorry drivers leading to delays in heating oil deliveries – all these combine to be a big worry for residents across the region who are concerned about energy bills.
Factoring in the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, with many people having to stay at home for longer periods, increases the need to heat and light their homes, and cook for themselves and their families.
Dereham-based charity Community Action Norfolk (CAN) is offering advice sessions to people who may be worried about managing their electricity, gas, heating oil and water bills.
Chief executive Rik Martin (pictured) explained: “We’ve delivered energy awareness training to many hundreds of frontline professional staff and members of the public for several years now, under the banner of the Big Energy Saving Network from Citizens Advice.
“It’s taken on a new urgency of late with the dramatic rises in gas prices – now is not a good time to switch supplier but we can advise on many other ways of getting help with energy bills and making savings on energy usage in the home.”
Low-income households especially run the risk of sliding into fuel poverty – not being able to afford to heat their homes and having to make the “heat or eat” choice.
It is estimated that 43,000 households across Norfolk experience fuel poverty and around 600 premature deaths are directly attributable to health problems caused by inadequately heated homes.
“Households whose occupants have lost their jobs due to Covid-19, or perhaps looking for work in uncertain economic times, or are vulnerable through disability or long-term illness, are more likely to struggle to meet their fuel bills,” said Mr Martin.
“And with winter temperatures added into the mix heating bills are inevitably climbing. It will be a tough winter for many people across the county.”
“But it’s important to remember there is help and support available out there, from voluntary organisations, local councils and the energy companies themselves.”
Community Action Norfolk can deliver advice sessions on-line or on-site to community organisations, professional groups, tenants, householders, staff, volunteers and the public.
Anyone interested in joining a session or arranging a visit to their group or community should email or telephone 01362 698216.