ADVICE gurus have offered their opinion on what residents can do if they’re struggling to pay their bills this winter.

Citizens Advice Braintree, Halstead and Witham (CABHW) is giving advice on how struggling families can cope with bills as part of its annual Big Energy Saving Week campaign.

This comes as they say many people across the Braintree District are expected to face fuel poverty for the first time this winter, as energy prices continue to rise.

Firstly, residents should contact their energy provider to discuss ways to pay what you owe them.

Suppliers have to help their customers to come to a solution.

The experts say this means you can negotiate a payment plan that suits both of you such as paying off any debts in manageable instalments.

Suppliers should take into account how much you can currently afford to pay and, how much energy you are estimated to use, to figure out a reasonable payment plan.

CABHW also say, if you pay through a prepayment meter, you can get temporary credit if you cannot afford to top your meter up.

If residents contact their supplier and say they’re unable to top their meter up, suppliers should issue the temporary credit automatically.

Each time you top up your meter, you’ll pay back a bit of the debt you owe.

To stay on top of your energy bills this winter, CABHW’s Warm Homes Team have also released their five top tips.

These are to provide regular meter readings to your energy supplier to ensure your bills are accurate, asking your supplier for a free Smart Meter, setting your thermostat between 18 and 21 degrees, turning appliances off instead of leaving them on standby and adjusting valves on your radiators to focus your heating in the most used rooms in your house.

Energy advice specialist at CABHW, Jon Baldwin, said: “Ofgem’s price cap limits the rates you pay but not your total bill, so the only way you can meaningfully save is to reduce your energy consumption. “The best way to stay on top of your energy bills is to follow our top tips and to reduce your energy consumption where you can – even small savings can help.

“Claim any welfare benefits you’re entitled to receive and speak to your supplier if you can’t afford to pay.”

If you’re worried about paying for your energy, you can contact Citizens Advice on 0300 3033 789 or visit