***REAP staff are working from home and you can keep in touch via email, phone and social media. We will be able to provide free and impartial energy advice by telephone and email. Call 01542 888 070 and leave a message and we’ll call you back, or email email@example.com See below for information about energy advice and bills and see our Grow Elgin and News pages for information and resources about growing your own, composting more and wasting less.***
Energy advice and worries about paying bills
If you pay by Direct Debit or on receipt of a bill you have a credit meter. Credit meters will not be cut off during the Coronavirus outbreak. Support is also available for pre-payment meter customers. This can include increased emergency credit and posting out pre-loaded meter cards or keys. If you are worried about meeting your energy costs, contact your energy company and see how they can help. The Money Saving Expert website has regularly updated information about what energy companies are doing to help and how to contact them, including phone numbers. There is also information on your rights if you might be made redundant, sick pay, benefits, mortgage holidays and sources of financial help.
If self-isolating: If you can, top up with a higher amount than you usually do. If you have a smart meter you can top up online or by using your supplier’s app. Many energy companies are contacting customers directly to explain what they are doing to help.
You can find out up to date information on the following energy company websites about support for pre-payment meters, credit customers and other FAQs. Some are still dealing with emergency calls, some are offering more normal services but call times are likely to be longer. General advice is to contact them by chat, email, apps or social media if you can, rather than phoning.
British Gas https://www.britishgas.co.uk/covid19 If you’re worried about being able to afford your bills call 0333 202 9802 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm)
Bulb https://help.bulb.co.uk/hc/en-us If you can’t chat online you can call 0300 30 30 635 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)
EON live chat and email via their website EON are asking that phone lines are kept free for those worried about paying their bills or about to be off energy. Pre-payment customers call 0345 303 3040, other numbers are here
Npower Live chat via their website N Power are asking that phone lines are kept free for those most in need. For pre-payment meter customers with an urgent issue Minicom or text phone 0800 413 016, Phone 0800 073 3000 or 0330 100 3000 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, Saturday 8am to 6pm). Chat and phone lines busy so wait times may be longer.
SSE (now part of OVO) See https://sse.co.uk/help/coronavirus-questions-and-answers and click on the question that applies to you to find advice and phone numbers
OVO https://www.ovoenergy.com/coronavirus-support for urgent help only call 0330 303 5063 (Monday to Friday 8am-6pm)
Scottish Power website is here Call 0800 0270072 only in an emergency or at risk of going off supply. All Scottish Power customers are encouraged to register as online customers to make it easier to keep in touch and avoid having to phone, no matter how they pay their bills. If you are struggling to pay your bills just now you can reduce your direct debit amount or apply for a payment holiday using your account.
Utilita website 0345 2068 333 for the automated top up line. You can also or download an app or top up by SMS. If you are worried about running out of energy or struggling to pay your bills you’ll find information and phone numbers here
If you are self-isolating and ask someone else to top up for you it is advised that you:
- Only ask a trusted family member, friend or neighbour
- Disinfect your top-up keys/cards before you hand them over and again once you receive them back again
- If possible leave them on your doorstep to be picked up
- Leave your gas meter box open (if outside) for them to access and if it is safe to do so
If you’re unable to top up your meter your first step should be to get in touch with your energy supplier. Suppliers must tell you what customer support is available, particularly if you are vulnerable and how you can be supported if you are unable to top up. Your supplier may help by: allowing you to nominate a third party to top up on your behalf; adding discretionary funds to your meter; sending you a pre-loaded top-up key or card, reassessing any debt repayment.
If you can get out but you’re not sure where to top up, or if your usual location is closed you can find other locations at the following sites:
Paypoint – https://consumer.paypoint.com/
Payzone – https://www.payzone.co.uk/consumers/
Post Office – https://www.postoffice.co.uk/bill-payments/
Credit meter customers
This information is for those who pay for their energy through a direct debit, on receipt or bill or those that have a payment plan in place. If you are in financial distress you should speak to your energy supplier and update them on the situation. There is a range of support your energy supplier could offer you including:
- Adjusting your payment amounts, providing payment breaks or reassessing debt repayment
- Not disconnecting anyone from supply
- Access to hardship funds
Your supplier must take into account how much you can afford to pay and the current circumstances.
Reading your meter
It’s a good idea to submit meter readings to your energy supplier if you don’t have a smart meter. It helps keep bills accurate. Once life gets back to normal, keep submitting readings to avoid an estimate based on a period when you used more energy than usual due to self-isolation or staying at home more. You can usually submit readings online through your account, or to an automated phone line. If you’re not sure how to take a reading, Citizens’ Advice Scotland has this helpful page. Here are guides from several energy providers too (click on your provider to open the link):
- British Gas
- EON (There’s a video tutorial at the bottom of the EON page)
- EDF (The link to the pop out guide is on the right of the page)
- Scottish Power (Lots of video tutorials in this link for the various meters)
- Npower – electricity meter
- Npower – gas meter
If you have a power cut you should call 105. If you have a gas emergency you should call 0800 111 999. If you have a faulty meter call your energy supplier
Priority Services Register
You may be eligible for your energy supplier Priority Services Register if someone in your home is of pension age, a child under 5 years old, has a long-term health condition or a disability. The Register is a free service provided by energy suppliers and network operators to ensure vulnerable customers are prioritised in event of a power cut or receive suitable support when dealing with the representatives of the company. To register please get in touch with your supplier, their contact details will be on your energy bill. Due to staff shortages at the moment you are better to email them than phone.
Moray Council – updates on services, useful phone numbers and Moray Emergency Relief application forms – http://www.moray.gov.uk/moray_standard/page_132517.html
Government – Update on emergency measures – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-agrees-measures-with-energy-industry-to-support-vulnerable-people-through-covid-19
Ofgem – COVID-19 information – https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-covid-19-and-your-energy-supply
Energy Action Scotland – https://www.eas.org.uk/en/coronavirus_56247/
Reducing your energy use at home
If you are self-isolating or ill with COVID-19 you are likely to use more energy than you would usually.
- Only fill the kettle with just enough water for your needs
- Consider cooking with a slow cooker instead of using an oven. It’s cheaper and a great way to batch cook
- Keep lids on pans to reduce cooking time of dishes
- Remember to turn off appliances that can be turned off at the plug instead of left on standby such as microwaves and televisions
- Turn your lights off when you’re not using them
- If working from home, make the most of daylight to work by, unplug your laptop, don’t have it charging all the time and if you’re managing a later start to the day than usual, adjust your central heating timer accordingly
It’s important to keep warm, especially if you feel unwell.
- Your central heating thermostat should usually be set to no more than 21° if possible
- Make sure your radiators are correctly set in each room.
- Layer up – although it’s sunny it’s not that warm yet so jumpers, and thick socks to the fore
- With being at home for longer than normal remember to set your programmer to come on and off when needed
- Close doors between rooms to keep the heat where it’s needed
- If any draughts are coming from your doors, put down draught excluders or fill any gaps with old newspaper or rags
- Close blinds and curtains in the evening to keep the heat in
Current advice and information about Coronavirus is available on the Scottish Government website here. This includes what do to keep yourself and others safe and who to contact if you are unwell.
Fraud and scams
Sadly criminals are moving quickly to take advantage of the uncertainty that coronavirus is causing. There’s good advice about Coronavrius scams and contact numbers on the Money Advice Service website and on the Trading Standards Website. Their warning poster is shared below.