Speak to your supplier if you’re struggling
Contact your supplier as soon as you can if you’re worried about paying your energy bills or if you’re in debt to your supplier. Suppliers must work with you to agree on a payment plan you can afford under Ofgem rules. This includes reviewing a plan you might have agreed to before. You can ask your supplier for any of the following…
A review of your payments and debt repayments
You can get a review of your payments or debt repayments by contacting your supplier directly. They will be able to supply this information to you, which can help you plan or manage your financial situation.
Payment breaks or reductions
If you’ve missed a payment because of a sudden change in your financial situation, they might agree not to disconnect you. This could be because of numerous factors, such as illness or the effects of coronavirus preventing you from working.
More time to pay
Contact your supplier as soon as you can if you’re worried about paying your energy bills as they can discuss a payment plan to help you find a solution.
Access to hardship funds
If you’re in debt to your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant to help pay it off. There’s a section outlining available grants below.
Advice on how to use less energy
Your supplier should be able to provide you with an average breakdown of the amount of energy different appliances use. This can help you use less energy in the long run.
Emergency support from your supplier
If you’re running out of gas and electricity, your supplier provides an emergency credit facility which you can access automatically via your meter. If this still isn’t sufficient, call your supplier and explain the situation, as they’re required to offer some amount of additional support credit to keep you on supply or return you to supply, where appropriate.
This can be if:
- You’re struggling to pay (emergency credit)
- Your top-up points are closed (Friendly-hours credit)
- You’re in a vulnerable situation (Additional Support Credit)
In most cases, any temporary credit will have to be paid back when you next top up, but you can ask your supplier to spread out the cost in a payment plan based on what you can afford to pay.
If you can’t afford to top up your pre-payment meter, you can ask your local council or food bank for a fuel voucher. This is a code given to you in a letter/text message/email which can be used at a PayPoint shop, Payzone shop or Post Office to add credit to your gas card or electricity key.
Important points about your voucher:
- Take the code and instructions with you – as well as some form of ID (this could be your passport or a bill showing your name and address)
- You must use your voucher within three months of receiving it
- If you have any problems with your voucher, check the instructions and contact the organisation you got it from
If you aren’t on the gas grid, or you rely on oil, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), coal or wood as your main source of heating, you might be able to get a fuel voucher. You’ll need to show that you can’t heat your home because you can’t afford to buy fuel, or you might not be able to afford it soon.
If you need to work from home regularly, for either all or some of the week, you may be able to claim tax relief for the additional costs you accrue through working from home. You can claim tax relief for gas and electricity where these have been used to carry out your role.
Cold weather payment
If you receive certain benefits or Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI), you may be able to receive this payment. You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as – or is forecast to be – 0°C or below over seven consecutive days. You’ll receive £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather from 1 November. The government have set up a page where you can check your eligibility.
Winter Fuel Payment
If you were born on or before 25 September 1956, you could get between £100 – £300 to help you pay your heating bills.
Warm home discount scheme
The warm home discount hasn’t been renewed for 2023-24 currently.
Child Winter Heating Assistance (Scotland)
Child Winter Heating Assistance is a benefit from the Scottish Government and was first paid in 2020. It’s a payment to help disabled children and young people and their families with increased heating costs over winter. It’s paid once a year. The payment for winter 2023-2024 is £235.70.
Help to heat
You may be eligible for grants to improve the energy efficiency of your home, which could help to reduce your energy bills. The Government is investing in energy efficiency schemes which are being delivered by local authorities.
Support from your local authority
Your local council might be able to offer support if you can’t top up your pre-payment meter. They may be able to help you access fuel vouchers, crisis loans and grants to help.
Warm banks are safe places with the heating on, where people can go to get warm in the winter if they can’t afford to heat their homes. They’re run by local councils, charities, museums, libraries and NHS services across the country. There are over 3,000 registered organisations that have opened – or are opening – free, warm, welcoming spaces for the public across winter.
The Priority Services Register
Priority Services Register is a free support service offered by your energy supplier if you’re in a vulnerable situation. Through this, you can get help with a number of things, including prepayment meter access, regular meter reading services and priority support.
You’re eligible if you meet one or more of the following criteria:
- have reached your State Pension age
- are disabled or have a long-term medical condition
- are recovering from an injury
- have a hearing or sight condition
- have a mental health condition
- are pregnant or have young children
- have extra communication needs
Grants to help pay off your energy debts
If you’re in debt to your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant to help pay it off.
The following energy suppliers offer grants to their customers:
- British Gas Energy Trust
- Ovo Energy Fund
- E.ON Energy Fund
- E.ON Next Energy Fund
- EDF Energy Customer Support Fund
- Octopus ‘Octo Assist Fund’
- Scottish Power Hardship Fund
You can also speak to your supplier about a payment break – however if you still feel you will struggle to keep on top of payments once the break is over, speak to us for some further support.
If you use oil to heat your home
The cost of heating oil depends on a few factors, including:
- The price of crude oil,
- How much you’re buying,
- Which suppliers cover your area,
- When you buy it.
Although some of these might be out of your control, there are still a few ways you can save money on heating oil.
Haggle and compare to find the prices that are right for you
When it’s time to refill your tank, make sure you contact numerous suppliers for a quote to get the best deal. Visit UKIFDA to find the suppliers in your area and use BoilerJuice and FuelTool to compare prices.
Keep your tank in top condition
Ensuring your tank is well-maintained will ensure you get the most out of your money. The Heating Hub maintenance and service guide details exactly what you need to do to make sure you don’t face any expensive problems.
Buy in bulk at the right time
You may be eligible for a community buying scheme where several households can buy together for a discount. If you have Facebook, it might be worth sharing the idea in your community chat, or you could visit your neighbours in person to ask. It’s also worth noting there’s more demand in the colder months, so buying in bulk during the summer, if possible, could be a cheaper option.
Please note BudgetSmart has been created to provide you with information but it’s important to always do your own research too. Whilst BudgetSmart contains links to third party websites we think you might find useful, PayPlan is not responsible for any external content or any actions you take when accessing these links/websites