Case study: how we helped Nomathemba*
We help our clients in all kinds of situations. Here’s our story of how we helped Nomathemba.*
Nomathemba lives with her young daughter in a council flat. She works part-time and is on a low income. Her flat is all-electric and Nomathemba pays for her heating as part of her rent. She is careful about the amount of electricity she uses but she still had high energy bills.
What did Nomathemba need help with?
Citizens Advice contacted the Environment Centre because Nomathemba’s electricity supplier had unexpectedly charged her £600. Nomathemba was also coming to the end of her energy contract and wanted to switch supplier but couldn’t because of this alleged debt. Her supplier had sent a letter stating they were applying for a warrant to fit a prepayment meter, despite the regular payments Nomathemba was making.
How we were able to help
One of our Southampton Healthy Homes energy advisors arranged to visit Nomathemba to look at her bills and provide energy efficiency advice.
Her advisor investigated the cause of Nomathemba’s high bill by looking at her energy bills and statements, asking how she uses electricity in her home and checking how she gives meter readings. They requested all actual meter readings her supplier had on file, but there were still gaps in the data. They spoke with her supplier to come to an agreement about electricity usage but had to escalate the complaint to the ombudsman.
While they waited, the advisor helped Nomathemba apply for the Warm Home Discount. The ombudsman eventually ruled in Nomathemba’s favour and asked her supplier to remedy the situation, which they did. The advisor subsequently did an energy price comparison and helped Nomathemba switch to a cheaper deal.
To further reduce her utility bills, the advisor gave Nomathemba energy and water saving devices, including a TV Powerdown, LED light bulbs and a Save-a-Flush. When discussing her water bills, the advisor determined that she was eligible for Southern Water’s Essentials Tariff, and urged Nomathemba to apply.
Nomathemba was also having difficulties with her benefits payments due to a reporting error. The advisor signposted her back to Citizens Advice for additional help and support.
Savings and outcomes
The supplier complied with the ombudsman’s recommendations and:
- cancelled the £600 outstanding balance
- removed all debt collection charges
- paid a £75 goodwill gesture
- wrote an apology letter to the client
Nomathemba received the £140 Warm Home Discount towards her electricity costs and ended up £200 in credit with her supplier. By switching to a cheaper tariff with a different supplier, it is estimated she will save £260 per year.
The energy and water saving devices the advisor left with Nomathemba should reduce her bills a further £20 per year. She is also eligible for Southern Water’s Essentials Tariff which could save her 20% or more on her water bills.
Nomathemba is now being supported by Citizens Advice and her local MP to resolve her benefits payments.
Get in touch
If you have high energy bills but can’t figure out what’s caused the rise, call or email the Southampton Healthy Homes team and let us take a look. We’re available on Freephone 0800 804 8601 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*We protect the confidentiality of all our clients. Although this is a genuine case study, Nomathemba is not our client’s real name and the image used is a stock photo.