WATCH: The Cornish Families Facing Fuel Poverty.

Watch the full video on Fuel poverty – Sky News.

Families in Cornwall are having to choose between putting the heating on or putting food on the table as they tackle fuel poverty.

Figures show the Duchy is one of the worst places in the country for it with almost 15 per cent facing bills higher than the national average.

It is even worse on the Isles of Scilly at up to 20 per cent.

Now Citizens Advice Cornwall is dishing out advice to help us tackle the big bills.

Fuel poverty happens when a household’s required fuel costs are above the national average and if they were to spend that amount, the money they were left with would tip them below the official poverty line.

The new research by Citizens Advice shows off-gas households are more likely to be in fuel poverty than those on mains gas supply.

Householders who are off-gas usually rely on electric heating, heating oil, LPG or solid fuels, such as wood, coal or coke.

A quarter of off-gas households in England are in fuel poverty compared to 10% of those using mains gas.

Citizens Advice Cornwall chief executive, Neil Colquhoun, said: “Many homes in rural parts of Cornwall, and the whole of the Isles of Scilly, are not connected to the mains gas supply.

“This can mean that heating costs are more expensive and can be a drain on the household income.

“Our advice offers people ways of reducing their costs by taking some simple steps whilst still keeping their homes warm.”

Citizens Advice Cornwall campaigns manager, Sandra Harbage, said: “Rural fuel poverty is a big issue in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Nationally, around one-in-seven rural households struggle to pay to heat their homes.

“Our campaign is aimed at highlighting these issues and showing the practical steps householders can take to avoid unnecessarily big fuel bills.”

The new advice is also contained in a special booklet which also gives helpful information about the benefits and help you are entitled to, such as the Government’s Winter Fuel Payment for pensioners, the Cold Weather Payment and the Warm Home Discount Scheme.

The Citizens Advice Rural Energy Booklet is available by e-mailing mail@cabcornwall.org.uk with your name and postal address or write to Rural Energy Booklet, Citizens Advice Cornwall, The Community Centre, South Terrace, Camborne TR14 8SU.

Citizens Advice Top Tips for Off-Gas Households:

  • Shop Around:

If you are in an area with several fuel suppliers, shop around for the best deal. It can be cheaper to buy some fuels, such as oil, in summer.

  • Know Your Rights:

Most suppliers belong to trade associations. Check your supplier is a member and what they should be doing to offer the best practice customer service. The Federation of Petroleum Suppliers has a customer charter; the Solid Fuel Association operates an approved merchants scheme and UKLPG has a vulnerable persons’ protocol.

  • Check Your Heating System

Have your boiler and tank serviced annually for safety and insurance. Leaks from oil tanks can be costly. Make sure your tank is covered by your home insurance.

  • Be Energy Efficient

Make sure your loft space and walls are well insulated where possible. In some cases financial support may be available. Check with the Energy Saving Trust for details (www.energysavingtrust.org.uk)

  • Renewable Heating

Heat pumps or biomass boilers can provide cheaper heating than conventional fuels, if you insulate your home first.

  • Protect Yourself

Check your fuel is secure from theft. Install a tank lock and alarm, which activates if oil drains too quickly. Store solid fuel in a safe, lockable space.

  • Check Your Tariff

If you use electricity storage heaters, make sure you’re on the right tariff. Use online switching tools to see if you could get a better deal.

  • Oil Buying Clubs

Some communities have oil buying clubs to get better bulk deals from suppliers. Check citizensadvice.org.uk/oilclubs

2:49pm 20th February 2017

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