Energy Best Deal
Helping consumers be more energy savvy
Citizens Advice has been working on the Energy Best Deal public awareness campaign with support from the energy regulator Ofgem and major energy companies since 2008. Energy Best Deal has now improved the confidence of over 200,000 domestic energy customers across England, Scotland and Wales to shop around, reduce their bills and get help if they are falling behind.
“The impact of the Energy Best Deal sessions on consumers and frontline workers is tangible, with a large proportion of consumers going on to take action as a result of the session.”
Centre for Sustainable Energy, August 2012
Energy Best Deal is delivered in England and Wales by members of the regional financial capability forums, and by Citizens Advice Bureaux in Scotland. Sessions are aimed at low income consumers and front-line staff who work with people at risk of fuel poverty who can be signposted to a range of further help with issues such as fuel debt, benefits entitlement and energy efficiency. Sessions are based around a one hour presentation, with an information leaflet to hand out. The campaign aims to:
- make people aware of the savings that can be made by switching fuel providers or negotiating with existing providers
- provide information about help available from energy suppliers and government for people struggling to pay their gas and electricity bills
- inform consumers about how they might save money by using less energy and sources of advice and help around energy efficiency.
A recent widower (aged 88 and mainly housebound) had been unable to find the paperwork relating to his household bills, which his wife always managed. He was concerned about paying his heating bills and was unsure of what benefits he was receiving and what he was entitled to.
Following the Energy Best Deal session, he was helped to write a letter to his fuel company explaining his situation. As a result his energy tariff was changed, helping him save £20.00 per month.
The man explained
“I felt so helpless and alone. Had I not gone to the coffee morning and heard the presentation I would have been in a right old mess.”
The 2012/13 campaign will see at least 640 sessions delivered by financial capability forum members in England and Wales and over 110 by Citizens Advice Bureaux in Scotland. Together these will directly train at least 3,375 low income consumers and at least 3,375 frontline workers who support them. This campaign is being funded by EDF Energy, E.ON, ScottishPower; and Scottish and Southern Energy and supported by Ofgem.
Taking action on energy issues
An independent evaluation of the 2011/12 campaign was conducted by the Centre for Sustainable Energy. The evaluation found that:
- more than a third of consumers had gone on to seek a better energy deal within a few months of taking part in a session
- almost 50 per cent had taken action to improve their home energy use, for example, by applying for a energy efficiency grant
- over 80 per cent of frontline workers said the session had changed their opinion on the importance of fuel poverty for the people they work with
- more than 90 per cent of front-line staff who took part said they were more confident at advising their clients on one or more of the topics covered
- during follow up interviews about three months after the session frontline workers said they had used the information to help about half the clients they had seen in that time
- 70 per cent of consumers said they had already passed the information on to friends and family and 86 per cent of frontline workers had already shared learning with colleagues at their organisation.
Frontline workers interviewed by the Centre for Sustainable Energy following the session were asked to think of a specific case where they had helped a client using information from the Energy Best Deal session.
One frontline worker from a Citizens Advice Bureau described a client who was referred to her by a hospital. The client was elderly and unwell and needed the house to be as warm as possible, as well as needing advice on money management. The worker gave the client information about switching to a cheaper tariff, helped the client to fill out forms for a Warm Front grant, and advised on free cavity wall insulation.
The client switched suppliers and saved money, was given a Warm Front grant, and received cavity wall insulation.
Energy Best Deal materials
Energy Best Deal films
Energy Best Deal films on YouTube - cover shopping around for a better energy deal, energy efficiency, getting help with bills, dealing with sales people, making a complaint and debt and disconnection.