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Save by switching

Use the Citizens Advice energy price comparison tool to see if you can save money by switching energy tariff or supplier.

Use your power to make a BIG difference!

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Citizens Advice, Energy Saving Trust
’20 Ways to Save Easy, expert-approved, energy-saving actions’
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/CitizensAdvice/campaigns/BESW%202020/20%20ways%20to%20save%20(1).pdf

Save on heating

  • If you have a timer on your central heating system, set the heating and hot water to come on only when required.
  • If you turn down your main thermostat by 1 degree, you can save around 10% on your energy bill. But make sure your home is warm enough during cold weather. Cold homes can damage your health.
  • Installing a room thermostat, a programmer and thermostatic radiator valves and using these controls efficiently could save you around £75 a year.
  • Close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows and check for draughts around windows and doors.
  • Draught-proofing of window and doors and blocking cracks in floors and skirting boards can save around £20 a year on energy bills.

Learn more from the Energy Savings Trust

Use your power to make a BIG difference!

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Citizens Advice, Energy Saving Trust
’20 Ways to Save Easy, expert-approved, energy-saving actions’
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/CitizensAdvice/campaigns/BESW%202020/20%20ways%20to%20save%20(1).pdf

Image: Energy Savings Trust

Save on appliances

Turning your appliances off standby mode can save you £30 a year and remember not to leave laptops and mobile phones on charge unnecessarily.

Use your power to make a BIG difference!

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Citizens Advice, Energy Saving Trust
’20 Ways to Save Easy, expert-approved, energy-saving actions’
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/CitizensAdvice/campaigns/BESW%202020/20%20ways%20to%20save%20(1).pdf

Save on lighting

  • Turn your lights off when you’re not using them. If you switch a light off for just a few seconds, you will save more energy than it takes for the light to start up again. This will save you around £14 a year on your annual energy bills.
  • Replace your bulbs as and when you can with energy efficient LEDs – on average it could save about £35 a year on bills.

Use your power to make a BIG difference!

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Citizens Advice, Energy Saving Trust
’20 Ways to Save Easy, expert-approved, energy-saving actions’
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/CitizensAdvice/campaigns/BESW%202020/20%20ways%20to%20save%20(1).pdf

Security Guidance for Smart Devices

Consumer Guidance for Smart Devices in the Home

Smart or internet-connected devices, such as smart TVs, music speakers, connected toys or smart kitchen appliances can bring great benefits to your daily life. However, without taking steps to secure all of your internet-connected products, you and your data could be at risk from someone getting unauthorised access to your device or account. Developed by the UK government and industry experts, this guidance will help you manage the security of your devices and help protect your privacy.

Setting-up your device

  • Read and follow the set-up instructions for the device. These are often found in an app downloaded onto your smartphone, tablet or from a paper manual and guide that comes with the product.
  • Check device instructions to see if you need to create an account on the manufacturer’s website, or download any other recommended apps.
  • If you are prompted to enter a password during the set-up process that is easy to guess, (such as ‘admin’ or ‘00000’), you should change it. Guidance on creating a strong password can be found on the Cyber Aware website. www.getsafeonline.org/protecting-yourself/passwords/

Managing your account

  • To set-up and manage your device, you may need to create or use an existing account on the manufacturer’s website. This account may allow you to add a new device or link your smartphone to your devices. You should ensure that your account has a strong password.
  • For added security, if the device or app offers Two Factor Authentication which provides a second layer of security, (such as a text message to your phone) you should enable it. This is particularly important if the account contains your personal data or sensitive information or is linked to something that may impact your or another persons physical safety.
  • Some products allow you to access or control them when you are away from your home’s Wi-Fi network; such as, to view security camera footage. Consider whether you need to make use of this feature, as products may allow you to disable it either in the app settings or within your account.

Keep updating your software and apps

Much like your laptop and smartphone, software and app updates help keep your devices secure. You should:

  • Check whether you can set-up and enable automatic updates (on the app or on your online account).
  • Install the latest software and app updates. These updates should download and install automatically on your device. If not, then you should install them straight away so you have the latest security protections. You should be prompted when a new update is ready to install, usually via a pop-up message or in the settings menu in the app or device menu.

If you become aware of an incident and think it affects your device

#CyberAware
www.cyberaware.gov.uk/

Download this guidance

www.getsafeonline.org/themes/site_themes/getsafeonline/resources/Consumer_Guidance_for_Smart_Devices_in_the_Home.pdf

 

Dirty chimneys cause fires – keep it swept

As the weather starts to cool down, you might be thinking of lighting your open fire, wood  burning stove or other ‘real flame’ appliance and using your chimney again.  An open fire or stove can be a focal point in your home but if they’re not properly maintained and regularly cleaned they can dramatically increase your risk of having a fire.

Dirty chimneys cause fires – keep it swept

  • Have your chimney and flue inspected and swept at least once a year for coal and twice if you are burning logs.
  • A clean chimney can help prevent fires and structural damage to your property.
  • Regular cleaning of your chimney or flues will eliminate the build up of soot and clear obstructions such as loose bricks, bird or animal nests, leaves and debris.
  • Avoid overloading the grate or build fires too high.
  • Dispose of ash safely and appropriately.
  • Be aware of the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Things you can do:

    • Check for moss or grass growing out of your chimney – it’s a sign it needs repair and if you had a chimney fire, could lead to smoke spread in your property.
    • Does your chimney lean to one side? Or is the top of it missing? Some damage may not be noticeable because it is located inside the chimney. However that damage could allow a chimney fire to spread into the roof or other parts of your home
    • If there are missing or cracked mortar joints or bricks, this is a sign your chimney needs repair. Look out for crumbling mortar falling onto your fireplace or stove.
  • Only burn suitable fuels and don’t overload the grate.
  • Always use a fire guard and if you have pets or young children consider using a safety guard.
  • Make sure that the fire is out before going to bed at night or leaving the house.
  • Do not dry or air clothes on a fireguard or close to the fire.
  • Regularly check for smoke from defective brickwork in the loft when the fire is alight and avoid storing items too close to the chimney stack.
  • Make sure no sparks or fumes can escape through cracks or broken bricks.
  • Never interrupt the air supply by blocking air vents or air bricks.
  • Avoid too much clutter being stored in your loft as this will make it much easier for a chimney fire to spread.
  • Have working smoke alarms fitted on every floor of your home and test them regularly.

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Doorstep criminals target residents following Storm Eleanor

Think before you BuyKent county Council Public Protection are warning Kent residents to beware of doorstep criminals. Following storm Eleanor criminals are attempting to convince people into unnecessary or overpriced work.Doorstep criminals may claim your roof tiles are loose,your chimney stack is dangerous or trees need to be felled due to damage.Accepting work from a doorstep criminal can result in paying much more than you intended for very poor, unnecessary and sometimes dangerous work.

If you require work done to your home get at least three quotes and never give a doorstep caller cash.
For a list of Kent County Council approved traders

Help keep your community safe 

Please look out for neighbours and report any suspicious doorstep callers to us.  

Report it
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/get-more-help/report-to-trading-standards/

For advice and to report issues to KCC Trading Standards contact Citizens Advice consumer service

Kent County Council Public Protection 04 January 2018
https://us9.campaign-archive.com/?u=ce2871176f2cf0da723a750b1&id=9cc2ad93ee

 

Prepare for flooding

In the third of our posts on preparing for winter we bring information from the Environment Agency on preparing for flooding.

Make a flood plan

Plan how you’ll respond to a flood. Use a template to make a:

Protect your property

You can:

You may need permission to do work that will affect the flow of a river or divert flood water. (more…)

Protecting your property from winter weather

Person clearing snowIn the second of our posts on preparing for winter we bring information from the Met Office ‘Get ready for winter campaign’ on protecting your property from winter weather and storms

There are a number of tasks you can do to prepare your home, garden, or business from the winter weather. Whether it’s strong winds, heavy rain or extreme cold and snow, there’s something you can do to prepare for winter.

Ensure you’re insured

Sometimes no amount of planning and preparation can prevent the weather damaging your property. Buildings insurance offers peace of mind, so ensure your policy is up to date and covers what you need it to. (more…)

Keep warm, keep well

NHS Choices LogoWe will be posting information about preparing for winter over the next few days. In this first post there is information about keeping warm and well from NHS Choices

Cold homes have a significant impact on people’s health. One of the best ways of keeping yourself well during winter is to stay warm.

Keeping warm over the winter months can help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.

The chances of these problems are higher if you’re vulnerable to cold-related illnesses because of one or more of the following:

  • you’re over 65
  • you’re on a low income (so can’t afford heating)
  • you have a long-term health condition, such as heart, lung or kidney disease
  • you are disabled

(more…)