Calls to Home Energy Scotland helpline surge as Scots urged to seek support and advice to reduce bills and save energy during coronavirus pandemic
Get the Inverness Courier sent to your inbox every week and swipe through an exact replica of the day's newspaper
Scots are being urged to seek support and advice from Home Energy Scotland to reduce heating bills.
A recent survey shows that, with more people working from home since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, almost half of those (44 per cent) worry this will lead to an increase in unaffordable energy bills.
The Scottish Government-funded Home Energy Scotland advice service has seen a significant increase in demand since July 2020.
The average number of calls to the free advice service has risen by 95 per cent compared with the same six-month period last year.
In its busiest weeks, calls were up more than 200 per cent on the same dates in 2019.
Through Home Energy Scotland, the Scottish Government offers support and funding to help reduce bills and save energy.
This includes help worth up to £5000 to make homes more energy efficient through the Warmer Homes Scotland programme.
Help is still available for householders throughout lockdown, with strict safety protocols in place for installation of essential home heating measures under this programme.
People are also encouraged to contact Home Energy Scotland to find out how they can make their home more energy efficient.
Interest-free loans with cashback of up to 75 per cent are available for a variety of measures such as solid wall insulation, double glazing or a new renewable heating system.
Loan offers are valid for a year so householders in mainland Scotland can prepare now for installations when lockdown is lifted.
Minister for local government, housing and Planning, Kevin Stewart, said: "We want to ensure that people are able to get all the help and support available to them to keep warm and safe in their home especially during the winter.
"That is why we acted quickly and have taken action to ensure that appropriate support is available for those struggling with increased household energy bills as a result of the pandemic.
"I am really pleased that our award winning Home Energy Scotland service has adapted its approach during the pandemic and has continued to provide a range of free impartial advice and support for anyone concerned about paying their energy bills.
"I would urge anyone struggling with their fuel bills to get in touch with Home Energy Scotland."
Harry Mayers, head of Home Energy Scotland, said: "Home Energy Scotland helps householders with both practical and financial support.
"This year calls to our helpline have risen sharply, with more than 2000 people turning to us each week for advice on how to reduce their heating bills, save money and keep their household warm.
"As well as financial support, our advisors help customers identify practical savings they can make at home, either by changing the way they use energy or carrying out energy-saving home improvements.
"We can also help people access further support through our network of partners across health, social care and other areas of advice."
Home Energy Scotland can be contacted on 0808 808 2282 or visit www.homeenergyscotland.org