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Help with energy costs

We understand the difficulties faced by many in meeting the rising cost of gas and electricity.

Why is there an energy crisis?

As countries began to recover from the pandemic, demand for gas started to increase again and could not be met due to a shortage in supply, causing gas prices to increase from 2021. The problem was made worse by renewable sources like wind and solar producing less power and cold weather during the winter months forcing more people to turn their heating up. 

This increase in gas prices forced some energy suppliers in Great Britain out of business. 

More recently, Russia's invasion of Ukraine has threatened supplies and driven up prices further. Russia is one of the world's largest producers of oil and gas.

What can I do to reduce my energy bills?

We recommend that you try and reduce how much energy you currently use at home - for example, turning off the lights when you leave the room or reducing the  number of times you use your washing machine in one week.

How can the Advice Shop help?

West Lothian Council's Advice Shop have been at the forefront of customers calls and concerns since the last record price increase in April. They have put in place measures to try and reduce the effects of this and prepare households for the next wave of record increases.

Referrals to Energy Advice have increased from 494 from April -June 2021 to 2,115 from April - June 2022.

If you need support with the increasing costs of living you can contact the Advice Shop to see what support is available to you. You can request a referral online on Advice Shop webpages or call 01506 283 000.


How are my energy bills calculated?

There are two elements to your energy bill  -

  • Standing Charge - which is a fixed daily rate
  • Unit Charge - for each unit of energy (kWh) that you use

These make up the total you are charged.

Each supplier decides how they will allocate costs between the standing charge and unit charge. 

Standing charges can vary between suppliers and tariffs.  Reducing the standing charge will often result in a higher unit cost and vice versa.

What are standing charges?

Standing charges are set by suppliers and cover their fixed costs such as transporting gas and electricity to your home. Standing charges need to be paid no matter or how much or how little energy you use.

How are direct debit amounts determined?

Energy companies look at a number of factors in determining your direct debit amount. If you are an existing customer, this will include your previous consumption or your expected consumption based on historic usage information. If this information is not available they will look at your property type and how many people live there and estimate how much they think you will use over the course of the year. They will also take into account the tariff you are on and whether you are in credit or arrears.

The total is then divided by 12 for monthly payments or by four for quarterly payments.

When do I need to give a meter reading?

If you don't have a smart meter and are on a default or standard variable tariff you should submit meter readings monthly to ensure your bill is accurate.


Warmer Home Scotland

Home Energy Scotland is a free and impartial service funded by the Scottish Government to help people stay warm in their homes for less.

The Advice Shop have a partnership with Home Energy Scotland and can make referrals for home owners and private tenants who are looking for grants/loans/information on energy efficient upgrades they can get for their property. 

This can include funding for boilers, insulation and solar panels.

Warm Home Discount

Energy Suppliers will soon be opening their application for the Warm Home Discount. This is a benefit paid by energy suppliers to vulnerable customers who meet their criteria. 

If you need support with the increasing costs of living you can contact the Advice Shop to see what support is available to you. You can request a Advice Shop Online Referral Form or call 01506 283 000.


Local Businesses

Energy Saving Tips from Business Energy Scotland

Information provided by Business Energy Scotland

Free resources are available by visiting  Business Energy Scotland


Struggling to pay your energy bills?

If you're struggling to afford your gas and electricity bills, Citizens Advice recommends contacting your supplier directly and offering to come up with a payment plan.


Low Carbon/Energy Efficiency Grant

  • This fund will assist businesses with barriers unique to their own net-zero journey.
  • Successful applicants will get a grant of up to £10K and must demonstrate one or more of the below outcomes:
  • Assist business to overcome barriers in achieving emission reduction
  • Help businesses implement new business processes that evidence a clear link to emissions reductions
  • Implement strategic changes identified from consultancy support
  • Support business to promote their "green credentials"
  • Facilitate business pivoting into a new market within the net zero landscape

Criteria

  • Business must employ minimum 5 staff
  • Have been trading for one year
  • Has growth potential over 3 years
  • Business must have taken steps to or have already completed a carbon footprint calculation
  • Ideally the fund will support changes to reduce emissions identified within scope 3 of the Green House Gas protocol
  • To register interest and find out more please email invest@westlothian.gov.uk