If you’re struggling to afford your energy bills, you may be able to take advantage benefits and grants offered by the government and energy suppliers.
Your energy supplier can help if you are having difficulties with your gas and electric bills. You can get other grants and benefits too. Your options will depend on your situation.
If you're struggling to pay your gas or electricity bills, speak to your energy supplier. They MUST work with you to agree on a payment plan you can afford under Ofgem rules.
There are also lots of national and local benefits and grants available to help you manage your energy costs. You can find out more about these below.
Energy support in Warwickshire and Solihull
- Warwickshire and Solihull Household Support Fund
This fund provides financial support to help vulnerable households who can't pay for food or energy and have no other access to funds this winter.
How to apply for the fund
- The fund is available until 31 March 2022.
- Each council has their own fund and eligibility criteria.
- You can find out more about how to apply on their websites.
The fund is distributed by Warwickshire County Council's Local Welfare Scheme. You can find out more and apply at:
www.warwickshire.gov.uk/localwelfarescheme or call them on 0800 408 1448.
The fund is administered by Act on Energy on behalf of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council. Find out more and apply at:
- Energy bill support in Warwickshire and Solihull
Act on Energy is a registered environmental charity covering Warwickshire, Solihull and surrounding areas.
They offer a full home energy support service and free, impartial advice, including:
- energy bill advice
- managing energy debt
- switching suppliers
- grant availability
- onwards referrals to other agencies if appropriate, including Heat4Health, which aims to support people and their families with health conditions to keep warm affordably in their homes
- Solihull - Winter Warmth Campaign
Solihull Council and Age UK Solihull provide an annual Solihull Winter Warmth hotline to help people stay warm and well this winter.
The service is not just for elderly; it's for anyone who needs help staying warm this winter.
Helpline number: 0121 704 8080
Open: Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, November to March.
The advisors can help you with issues such as:
- Providing emergency heaters if your heating breaks down
- Receiving a ‘Safe and Well’ visit from West Midlands Fire Service
- Making a ‘Warm Home Discount’ application and joining the ‘Priority Services Register’
- Practical help on making your home warmer this winter
- Benefits and debt advice
Find out more on the Solihull Winter Warmth hotline website.
National schemes, grants and benefits - from the government
- Warm Home Discount Scheme: a one-off £140 payment
You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2021 to 2022 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
The money is paid as a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between October and March.
There are two ways to qualify for the Warm Home Discount Scheme:
- you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit - known as the ‘core group’
- you’re on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme - known as the ‘broader group’
How you apply for the Warm Home Discount Scheme depends on how you qualify for the discount. If you’re on a low income, you may be able to apply directly to your electricity supplier for help if:
- your energy supplier is part of the scheme
- you’re on a low income
- you get certain means-tested benefits
Your electricity supplier decides who can get the discount and the number of discounts suppliers can give is limited. Please check with your supplier as early as possible to see if you’re eligible and how to apply. Your electricity supplier will apply the discount to your bill by 31 March 2022.
- Winter Fuel Payment : an annual payment
The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual one-off payment of between £100 and £300 to help you pay for heating during the winter.
You can usually get a Winter Fuel Payment if you were born on or before 5 October 1954.
You usually get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you are eligible and you get the State Pension or another social security benefit (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit).
- Cold Weather Payments: when it's zero degrees
Cold Weather Payments are one-off payments to help you pay for extra heating costs when it’s very cold.
You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over 7 consecutive days.
You’ll get £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.
You’ll only be eligible if you already recive one of these benefits:
- Pension Credit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Universal Credit
You do not need to apply. If you’re eligible to get a Cold Weather Payment, you’ll be paid it automatically.
If you think you should have received a payment, but haven’t you can check on the gov.uk website below for your postcode.
National schemes, grants and benefits - from suppliers and charities
- Support with energy debts: including grants
If you’re in debt to your energy supplier, you may be able to get a grant from a charitable trust to help pay it off.
- British Gas Energy Trust - open to anyone
The British Gas Energy Trust offer grants to clear domestic gas and electricity debts. These grants are open for anyone to apply for, you don't need to be a British Gas customer.
Other energy companies offer grants specifically for their customers, including:
When you apply for a grant, you'll be asked to provide detailed information about your financial situation. The Citizens Advice service may be able to help you with your application.
- British Gas Energy Trust - open to anyone
- Severn Trent Water customers could save 90% off their water bill
Severn Trent Water customers may be able to save up to 90% of your water bill by applying to their ‘Big Difference’ scheme.
Eligibility is based on your household income.
You can find more information and apply on the Severn Trent Big Difference website
- Anglian Water customers - support with water bills
Anglian Water have lots of measures in place for those who might be struggling to pay, from special tariffs to short-term support.
Anglian water offer LITE and Extra LITE tariffs to customers on a low disposable income who are struggling to pay their water bill. Based on your individual situation you could get a discount of up to 50% on your water and sewerage charges by switching to one of these tariffs.
Extra Care Support
Anglian Water also offer an Extra Care Support service – where they create a personalised plan for you to manage your water payments. This may include switching tariffs, setting up an affordable payment plan, a payment break (breathing space) or support through the Anglian Water Assistance Fund.
- Big Community Switch - free energy switch service
Big Community Switch is a free scheme that could help you save money on your energy bills.
What is Big Community Switch?
Collective energy switching uses the bargaining power of a large group of people to get a competitive offer for you. Big Community Switch is coordinated by iChooser.
How does it work?
It’s a free service and open to anyone in the UK.
- They invite pre-vetted energy suppliers to an energy auction where they compete to offer you the lowest energy tariff.
- Suppliers bid against each other until they have the lowest bid.
- You’ll then be sent a personal offer. There’s no obligation to accept the offer
- If you do accept, and choose to switch energy supplier, they will handle the entire switching process for you.
The scheme runs continually with auctions several times a year.
How do you get involved?
To get involved, you’ll need to sign-up on the Big Community Switch website.
You’ll need to provide your contact details, the name of your energy supplier and details of your current energy usage and tariff.
Find out more on the Big Community Switch website
Energy and water support for disabled people
- Scope – Disability Energy Support
Scope offers a free energy and water advice service for disabled people.
Their expert advisers can help and talk you through a wide range of topics related to your energy and water needs, including:
- managing energy and water debt
- switching tariffs or supplier
- energy and water efficiency
- accessing benefits, grants, and trusts
- free fuel vouchers (conditions apply)
- contacting or complaining to your supplier
- understanding your gas and electricity bills
- support registering with the Priority Services Register
Apply online for personalised support:
How to use storage heating efficiently
- How do storage heaters work?
Storage heaters are designed to work with a two rate energy tariff, to make use of cheaper, overnight electricity.
Overnight they absorb and store up energy, which is then released to heat your home the following day.
It's important to get the settings right, otherwise you could be wasting power and money.
Each heater in your home works independently, so you'll need to set each of them.
And, if you find you're running out of heat during the day, you may need to store a bit more. Take a look at how to control your heater and how to use it most cost efficiently below.
- How do you control storage heaters?
Each heater has two controls: input and output.
Controlling the balance between the input and output will determine how much energy they use and how effective they are at heating your home.
- This controls how much energy you want to store up overnight.
- The numbers on the input control typically run from 1 (low) to 6 (high). The higher the number, the more energy your heater will store overnight, and the more electricity it will use.
- You’ll need to store up more energy during the winter nights, to make sure you’ve got enough heat to last throughout the next day. So, when it starts to get cold, keep the input dial at somewhere between 4 and 6.
- In spring and autumn, keep the input dial somewhere between 1 and 3. You won’t need the heating on as much during the day by then, so you don’t need to store up as much energy overnight.
- This controls how much heat you want to give out throughout the day, which will affect how quickly the stored heat is used.
- During the day, turn the output control up or down to heat your home as and when you need to.
- The higher you turn it up, the warmer it’ll feel. But by doing that, you’ll also be using up more of your stored energy.
- By gradually releasing heat throughout the day at a low setting of about 1 or 2, you should have enough to turn it up in the evening, when it’s usually a bit colder.
Some storage heaters also come with a ‘boost’ setting, to give you an extra blast of heat if you need it. However, this may use more expensive peak-time electricity, rather than the energy stored in your heater from overnight.
You should adjust the controls throughout the year, to avoid using more energy than you need. Find out more about how to use your heater most cost efficiently below.
- How do you use storage heaters most efficently?
Firstly, make sure you're on an Economy 7 or Economy 10 energy tariff.
This is essential, as it makes it affordable to charge your heaters when the energy is at it's cheapest overnight.
If you use your heaters effectively, by adjusting the input and output, you could save money.
Input adjustment advice:
- Forward plan: check the weather forecast for the next day, so you know how much to charge your heaters.
- Set the input based on energy needs for next day - the higher the number, the more energy is stored and the more electricity used.
- Only charge heaters in the rooms you'll use the next day.
Output adjustment advice:
- Set the output to the lowest setting at night, normally 0 or 1, to avoid wasting heat
- If you’ll be out during the day, remember to turn the output control right down before you leave, to avoid using up energy.
- During the day, gradually turn the output from low to high to high starting at one and move up one dial at a time if you feel cold. This way you can retain heat for the evening.
- Don't block the heaters with furniture / curtains
Switch it off:
- In the summer, or when you don't need any heating, switch the heater off at the wall.
And, don't forget...turn the output control down before you go to bed and when you go out to save heat and money.
- Help with your heater
If you need any help understanding how to use your storage heater please get in touch by email or call on 0300 1234 009.