How to save money on energy bills this autumn?

October, 2022

As an Energy Price Guarantee that means typical households will pay no more than £2,500 per year on energy bills for two years is announced, we explain what energy bills help is available and how to access it.

New Prime Minister Liz Truss has announced an ‘energy price guarantee’ that means a typical household will pay no more than £2,500 a year on energy bills for two years, from 1 October. This means the planned increase to the energy price cap – which was set to jump from £1,971 a year to £3,549 a year on 1 October – will no longer happen.

Energy bills help already announced including the Energy Bills Support Scheme, which is worth £400 per household, will still go ahead. And this will take the typical household’s energy bill down to £2,100 per year for this year – around 6.5% higher than the current price cap.

It’s welcome news for households however many are still worrying about how they’ll manage their energy costs this winter.

What help is available?

The Energy Bills Support Scheme

All households in the UK will soon get a £400 discount on their energy bill to help with the cost of living. This will be paid out over six months, starting from October. Most people will get it taken off their bill directly by their energy firms.

However if you have a smart prepayment meter you’ll see the discount credited directly to your prepayment meter each month. While if you’re on a traditional prepayment meter you’ll get redeemable vouchers or Special Action Messages (SAMs) each month issued via SMS text, email or post. You’ll need to redeem these at your usual top-up point.??

Around 90% of eligible households have already received this support. You’re eligible for this council tax rebate if you pay council tax and your home is in council tax bands A to D. You can check your council tax band on the government site by clicking here. If you haven’t received your money yet contact your council: find your local council’s contact details.

One-off payment for low-income households

Earlier this year it was announced that 8 million low-income households would also get a one-off payment of £650 to help with the cost of living to be paid in two parts – one payment in July while the second will come this Autumn.

Additional energy bills help for the vulnerable

Extra payments will be made to low-income and vulnerable households. This includes an extra £150 one-off disability payment which will be paid automatically from 20 September. And a £300 one-off payment to low income pensioners to be paid alongside the Winter Fuel Payment (see below).

What if you can’t afford your energy bills?

If you’re really struggling to pay your energy bills, agree a payment plan with your supplier.

Contact your supplier as soon as you can. Energy regulator Ofgem says your supplier is obliged to work with you to agree on a payment plan you can afford. You can ask for:

  • a review of your payments and debt repayments
  • payment breaks or reductions
  • more time to pay
  • access to hardship funds
  • Priority Service registration. This is a free support service if you are in a vulnerable situation

However if you can’t agree on a way to pay, get help from Citizens Advice or Advice Direct Scotland.

Are you eligible for additional help from your supplier?

Many energy companies offer schemes or grants that offer energy bills help. These include E.on Energy Fund, E.on Next Energy Fund, Scottish Power Hardship Fund and British Gas Energy Trust. You don’t need to be a British Gas customer to be eligible for help from the British Gas Energy Trust.

But bear in mind you’ll need to jump through a lot of administrative hoops for the application process. For example, you’ll need to have spoken to a debt adviser first and completed a budget showing your income and spending. And the eligibility criteria varies. However, those in the greatest need are prioritised.

Are you entitled to more government help?

There is other help you may be entitled to including:

  • Winter Fuel Payment – If you were born on or before 26 September 1955 you could get between £250-£600 to help you pay your heating bills. This amount includes a ‘Pensioner Cost of Living Payment’ of between £150 and £300. However you’ll only get this extra amount in winter 2022/2023.
  • Cold Weather Payment – This is a £25 payment for every 7 days of very cold weather between November and March.
  • Warm Home Discount – A £150 discount for some people getting Pension Credit or some people in low-income households.
  • Household Support Fund – This is a funding package to help vulnerable households.
  • While if you live in Scotland or Wales:
  • Child Winter Heating Assistance – This is a £214.10 annual payment per disabled child and young person under 19 living in Scotland.
  • Winter fuel support scheme – A £200 annual payment for Welsh households in receipt of certain benefits.

Also the government’s Fuel Direct Scheme can help you repay a debt from benefit payments. To apply, contact Jobcentre Plus (or your pension centre if you’re on Pension Credit).

What energy bills help is available from charities?

According to Ofgem, Charis has information on grants some charities offer and how to go about applying. While Turn2us has a benefits calculator, a grants search tool to help you find out what support you can get and adviser locator tools. You’ll also find information on benefits and information on help with paying energy and water bills.

How to get debt advice

If you’re worried about debt then it’s vital to get advice sooner rather than later. You’ll find advice on managing debt problems and budgeting through:

  • MoneyHelper
  • National Debtline
  • StepChange Debt Charity

How to save energy

With prices soaring so high it’s vital that we save energy where possible. According to Energy Saving Trust you can save on energy bills by making some simple changes.

  • Taking a 4-minute shower – potential saving £70 per year.
  • Avoiding using the tumble dryer – potential saving £60 per year.
  • Switching items off rather than leaving them on standby – potential saving £55 per year.
  • Draught-proofing gaps – potential saving £45 per year.
  • Insulating your hot water cylinder – potential saving £35 per year.

Also it might be of interest to know that in this year’s Spring Statement the then Chancellor announced VAT would be scrapped for homeowners installing energy efficient measures such as solar panels, heat pumps, or insulation over the next five years.

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