Winter is a more expensive time of year, with the increased use of heating and many holidays to celebrate. Additionally, you may be working and living from home this year, which will impact the amount you are spending on your energy bills. Now is the perfect time to check everything’s working, such as your boiler, and ensure you get it serviced if necessary.
There are a few small things you can do to keep you and your home warm which will help you to save money on your energy bills.
- Closing your curtains as soon as it gets dark, or just before, will keep the heat in.
- Bleed your radiators to ensure they are working at their best
- Try to keep the room you spend the most time in warm, rather than the whole house. It is a myth that it’s cheaper to keep the heating on low all day and this has been debated a lot over the years. To save energy and money, only have the heating on when you need it. Keep your main living room heated to 70.F (21.C).
- Use heating controls, such as thermostats if you have them, to heat your home to the perfect temperature without wasting energy.
- Use a hot water bottle, wheat bag or electric blanket to warm the bed, but don’t use all at the same time. Make sure you take care not to leave electric blankets unattended for long periods of time.
- Use draft excluders to cut out sneaky drafts.
Although it’s estimated that over 3.4 million households in the UK are living in fuel poverty, don’t let finances prevent you from turning your heating on. People with long-term and chronic illnesses and older people are among the most vulnerable groups who could have their health impacted by the incorrect temperature. Seek help if you are concerned about your energy bills.
What schemes are available to help me?
Winter Fuel Payment
The Winter Fuel Payment is available if you were born on or before 5th October 1954. This is an annual tax-free payment to help with heating costs. You should ensure that you are registered to get it, then you will receive this automatically every year. Find out how to claim on: https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment.
Cold Weather Payment
A Cold Weather Payment is a one-off payment to help pay for extra costs when it is very cold. Whenever the temperature drops below a specific temperature for a set period of time, you will get a payment if you are eligible. You are eligible if you already get one of the following: Pension Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance and/or Universal Credit. Find out more on: https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment
Warm Home Discount
This scheme provides some people with a one-off discount of £140 off electricity bills once a year. The scheme is open for applications between September and March. To qualify for the Warm Home Discount, you need to be receiving the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, known as the “core group”. Your energy supplier must be part of the scheme, and your name must be on the bill.
If you’re on a low income, known as the “broader group” and your supplier is part of the scheme and you get certain means-tested benefits, you may be able to apply directly to your supplier. Check with your supplier as soon as possible; however, be aware they may have their own rules on who is eligible to receive help.
If you have not received a letter, and you are in the core group, contact the Warm Home Discount Team on 0345 603 9439.
Please visit: www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme.
You may be able to get a Budgeting Loan to help you with unexpected expenses, such as a broken boiler. To qualify you need to be receiving Pension Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance. For more information please see the following link: https://www.gov.uk/budgeting-help-benefits
To apply for a Budgeting Loan, please see the following link: https://www.gov.uk/budgeting-help-benefits/how-to-apply
You cannot apply for a Budgeting Loan if you receive Universal Credit, but you may be able to get other financial support such as a Budgeting Advance to help with emergency costs, like replacing a broken cooker or other white goods.
To be eligible for a Budgeting Advance, you must have been getting Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Jobseeker Allowance, or State Pension Credit for six months or more, earned less than £2,600 (£3,600 for a couple) and paid off any previous budgeting advance loans. For more information please see the following link: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/other-financial-support
To apply for a Budgeting Advance, contact your local Jobseeker Plus work coach.
Register as a vulnerable customer
Let your supplier know that you have been diagnosed with a blood cancer. You should be eligible to register for its priority services as a “vulnerable customer”. You should benefit from priority services such as:
- Notice of any planned power cuts and more support during power cuts
- Your energy supply not being disconnected if you are behind on your payments
- Priority in an emergency (this could include providing alternative heating and cooking facilities in the event of supply disconnection)
Grants to pay off debts
You may be able to get a grant from a charitable trust if you’re in debt to your energy supplier. A grant will enable you to pay a debt off. Contact our Welfare Officer for more information.
The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) (England, Scotland, Wales) is a government initiative that helps vulnerable people and those on a low income to make energy-saving improvements to their homes such as insulation, a new boiler or double glazing. To qualify you will be in receipt of certain benefits and have an income of £16,190 or less.
The Green Homes Grant is a new scheme to help you improve your home. You may be able to get up to £10,000 on this scheme to help pay for different energy efficiency improvements. You can view more information here: https://www.grantscheme.uk/default.asp
There’s lots of good tips on the following website for cutting the cost of your energy bills: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/energy/
If you’ve receiving Universal Credit, you may be eligible to get other financial support: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/other-financial-support
For more information on how to reduce your bills and make your home more energy efficient, go to the government’s simple energy advice website https://www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk/ or call the helpline on 0800 444 202.
You can also find out about heating and housing benefits on https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/heating
For more information on the topic of staying well this winter, there is a fantastic resource from Age UK with loads more information on health and wellbeing for older people. Please visit their website on https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/mind-body/preparing-for-winter/