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With the weather starting to take a turn, many often find themselves thinking about how they’ll be able to afford the inevitable increase in fuel bills as winter approaches.
The good news is that there are several grants and benefits available that you may find you’re eligible for.
Below, we provide a summary of the main schemes, as well as a few tips to ensure a comfortable winter, both in terms of temperature and finances.
Cold Weather PaymentsCold Weather Payments is a scheme which consists of a £25 payment for each seven-day period that’s classed as ‘very cold weather’ between 1 November and 31 March. This is classed as seven consecutive days where the average temperature in the area where you live is recorded as zero degrees Celsius or below.
You’re eligible for Cold Weather Payments if you receive certain benefits and a full list can be found here.
Warm Home Discount SchemeThis is a one-off discount from your winter 2017/18 electricity bill. It’s not paid directly to you but is taken off your bill that covers the period October 2017 – March 2018. It also applies to people who use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter.
The cut-off point for eligibility was 9 July 2017. On that date, your energy supplier had to be part of the Warm Home Discount Scheme (a full list can be found here), your name or your partner’s had to be on the bill and you had to be receiving the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit.
Those who qualify should receive a letter by 30 November 2017. However, if you don’t receive one and still think you qualify, you can find details on how to claim here.
Winter Fuel PaymentA Winter Fuel Payment is available to anyone born on or before 5 August 1953. It consists of a yearly one-off payment of between £100 and £300 to help towards heating bills.
If you’re eligible and you already receive a State Pension or social security benefit, then you’ll normally receive it automatically. If not, you’ll need to make a claim and have until 31 March 2018 to make a claim for this coming winter.
You can find out more about the full eligibility for Winter Fuel Payments here.
Charitable TrustsMany energy suppliers have their own independent charitable trusts to help individuals and families struggling with gas and electricity debt. Some schemes, like the British Gas Energy Trust, EDF Energy Trust and E.ON Energy Fund, are open to anyone, whilst some, such as the npower Energy Fund and Scottish Power Hardship Fund, are reserved solely for customers of that supplier.
Simple steps to cut your own billsIn addition to the above, there are also a few ways we can help ourselves to reduce our energy bills. Give these a go:
- Leaving appliances on standby still uses electricity. Remember to switch everything off at the plug as it can help you save money.
- Insulation can make a really big difference by reducing the amount of heat your home loses and bringing down your energy bills. There are lots of different options and the Energy Saving Trust has done a great job of summarises these and the potential cost savings here.
- Many people believe switching energy suppliers is a hassle, but don’t be afraid to shop around to get the best deal. Online comparison sites such as Energy Helpline, Compare The Market, Go Compare or USwitch can make the whole process really straightforward.
- Believe it or not, turning the thermostat down by just 1 degree can help you cut your energy bill by 10%.
Do you have your own tips for saving money? Share your ideas with us on Facebook and Twitter.
This article was checked and deemed to be correct as at the above publication date, but please be aware that some things may have changed between then and now. So please don't rely on any of this information as a statement of fact, especially if the article was published some time ago.