From April, new Changeworks [1] project Switched On is offering local residents free impartial advice and tailored support to manage their gas and electricity costs and get the most from their heating.

Craig Woodburn from Edinburgh, one of Switched On's first clients, said: "The assistance I have received from Changeworks has enabled me to finally resolve my issues with my energy supplier, resulting in me being placed on a more suitable tariff that drastically cuts the size of my bills. In a short space of time their support and input made all the difference after months of getting nowhere on my own, and I am very grateful for their help."

Switched On is a five-year project funded by the Big Lottery Fund [2] that supports people on a low income living in Edinburgh, Midlothian and East Lothian. People have the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with an energy advisor to manage their gas and electricity costs. People can receive free advice and one-to-one support ranging from help to understand gas and electricity bills to setting up more affordable gas or electricity repayments. The aim is to build people's practical skills to heat and light their homes more efficiently and secure the best deals from gas and electricity companies. This will enable people to handle heating matters with confidence in the future.

Over a third of Scottish households (800000) were in fuel poverty [3] in 2009 Energy Action Scotland [4] figures. Switched On is about offering direct support to those people on low incomes who struggle to heat their homes at affordable cost. Switched On Energy Advisor Rebecca Glancy said: "If you are on a low income and struggling to meet your gas and electricity payments, or are finding it difficult to understand your bills and even keep your home warm, then we can help you. We offer free and impartial advice for people hard hit by gas and electricity costs. This is about working with people so they gain the know-how to manage these issues for themselves now and in the future."

Get Switched On and contact through the Energy Saving Scotland advice centre: Call FREE on 0800 512 012 Email advice@se.energysavingscotland.org.uk Or text "Warm' to 81025 for an advisor to call you back.

Contact Rebecca Glancy Switched On Energy Advisor Email: rglancy@changeworks.org.uk. 

Notes:

[1] Changeworks exists to improve quality of life and to protect the environment. We work with passion integrity and in collaboration to develop and deliver innovative projects and businesses in energy, waste prevention and transport that inspire and empower people and communities to make a difference.

[2] Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest of the National Lottery good cause distributors, has been rolling out grants to community groups and projects that improve health, education and the environment across the UK since its inception in June 2004. 

[3] The Scottish Government definition of fuel poverty "A household is in fuel poverty if in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime it would be required to spend more than 10% of its income (including Housing Benefit or Income Support for Mortgage Interest) on all household fuel use"

[4] Energy Action Scotland is the charity whose mission statement is to eliminate fuel poverty in Scotland. Fuel poverty is a major problem in Scotland affecting around a third of Scottish households who cannot afford to heat their homes to an adequate level.