Over the last week, we have experienced a severe cold snap, with temperatures suddenly plummeting below average, prompting snow and ice warnings broadcast across the UK.
So why does it feel colder than normal?
Autumn was the warmest on record for the UK, with daily temperatures approx 2.5˚C above the average between 1990 and 2020. (BBC Weather)
Until Tuesday, temperatures matched the UK average for December, sitting at approximately 8˚C in the daytime across England and 5˚C in Scotland. The “cold snap” happened almost instantaneously when the temperature dipped overnight, reaching -8˚C in Oxfordshire and -8.5˚C in Cumbria. (BBC Weather) Because of this, the rapid transition into the cold has come as a shock for many of us.
Why has this happened?
The Met Office have said that Arctic winds are being forced south between high and low pressure systems, gripping most of the country with much colder weather.
And it definitely feels much colder.
What is being done at the top to combat colder temperatures and rising energy bills?
On 12th December, the National Grid announced they are firing up two coal units that have been left on winter standby so that they are prepared to relieve tight supplies of energy. This does not mean that the plants will be used, but that they will be able to produce energy if called on by the grid to avert an energy blackout.
The above is just one measure that forms part of National Grid’s power blackout prevention scheme. One that may seem more tangible is the Demand Flexibility Service, which sees that households could get paid for using less energy-intensive appliances during peak hours of energy use. Octopus Energy worked as part of this scheme on a test run, revealing that it reduced energy demand by more than 100 megawatts. National Grid has not yet had to put this scheme into action – even amidst the current cold snap – but suppliers such as British Gas, OVO Energy and more are signed onto the scheme in case it is put into action. If you have a smart meter, you can find out more about the service by talking to your energy provider.
Additionally, you can find out more about the government’s package of financial support, here.
This is the first cold snap to hit the UK since the energy bills crisis…
Experts have warned that households should try to heat their homes to 18˚C – putting emphasis on those who are elderly, have a long-term or pre-existing health condition, or are not mobile.
We understand many households will struggle to heat their homes to this temperature so we have outlined some helpful tips below.
Check your home is insulated
It is important to check that your home is insulated so the costs of your energy bills are not wasted. We currently offer advice through our Healthy Housing Service, offering support with the cost-of-living, boiler health checks and a range of additional heating support, such as advice with home insulation. To find out more, click here.
Reducing the flow temperature on your condensing combi boiler to 60˚C can save an average of £178 up to £267 on your gas bill. You can cut your energy use by simply adjusting the settings – making a worthwhile change without reducing the warmth of your home. To find out how to make the change, click here.
Sign up to the Priority Service Register
With the colder temperatures, it is understandable that energy blackouts may seem more concerning. For those that are over 60 and/or vulnerable, now is the time to sign up to the Priority Service Register – where you can receive advanced notice of power cuts, get advice on how to prepare for them, and receive a cold weather crisis pack. You can find out more, here. It is also a good time to reach out to family and friends, whether that be to assist them in signing up or to ensure that they have access to a torch, batteries, warm food and blankets.
Other help available:
For people on lower incomes or benefits, it is possible that you will receive a £25 cold weather payment for every 7-day period of freezing weather. To find out about eligibility, this handy postcode checker can show you whether you are due a payment.
Nottingham City Council, Nottingham County Council and the NHS are running Health and Wellbeing Hubs, provide information on keeping healthy, making your money go further and finding and using your local health services. Their services could help with additional support this winter. To find the Hub schedule, click here.
Across Nottingham, AskLion lists 41 Warm Spaces, opened by Nottingham City Council, partners, community, and voluntary organisations, so that any resident can visit and keep warm. They offer the opportunity to meet people and have an alternative space to work. Some of the spaces may also offer refreshments and activities, as well as information and support on how to reduce bills. For a full list of warm spaces in your area, click here.
Additionally, AskLion list Food Banks and Social Eating Venues, as well as reduced-cost supermarkets across Nottingham. Nobody should have to choose between feeding their family and heating their home, you can find out more about the support available, click here.
For more information about NEP’s services, click here.
For further help, call us on 0115 985 3009 and we can give you a helping hand.
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