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Save Money on Electricity and Gas Bills

You could reduce your fuel bills by changing your payment method. Some methods offer a discount, by efficient use of gas and electricity or by insulating your home. Fuel suppliers usually offer discounts to customers who pay their bills by direct debit, standing order, a fixed payment budget scheme or a flexible payment scheme. Find out the terms of payment schemes your fuel supplier offers.

Electricity suppliers usually give you the option of not paying a standing charge but paying a higher rate for the electricity used instead. This might be cheaper for you, but its best to work this out from your bills. If you are sixty or over, or live with someone aged sixty or over, you could get a Winter Fuel Payment to help with fuel costs over that period. Certain benefits entitle you to get a Cold weather payment when the weather reaches a certain temperature.

Fuel suppliers must have a code of practice on using gas and electricity efficiently. Suppliers must provide this on request and they will provide free information and advice on: preventing heat loss from your home, choosing gas or electricity heating systems, using gas or electricity systems efficiently, providing a list of organisations which may be able to give advice, training and other services and finally sources of possible financial help for any work which would improve the efficient use of gas or electricity.


Energy efficiency

Households can save on fuel bills by using the energy more efficiently, and you can be warmer and healthier as a result. Discounts and grants are available to help with fuel efficiency. Even if you have to meet some of the costs yourself, the savings on energy bills can quickly repay the initial cost.


Get the Best Deal on Fuel Prices

In the UK you can usually reduce your fuel costs by changing your fuel supplier. Companies operate dual fuel schemes which can save you money if you buy both gas and electricity from that supplier. You can find further information about changing your supplier, from the website of the consumer watchdog, Consumer Focus at: www.consumerfocus.org.uk.

Consumer Focus also lists a number of approved internet price comparison services. These websites compare the different deals available from gas and electricity suppliers to help you find out if you could save money by switching. To compare the prices being offered by these suppliers with the price from your current supplier, you will need to find out how much you are currently paying for your fuel every year. Work this out by looking at your last four quarterly bills. Consumer Focus can give you a list of the supply companies operating in your area and the prices they charge. If you have problems paying your energy bills contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.


Schemes and Grants

There are many efficiency schemes and grants that are available and these schemes vary across the United Kingdom and are run many organisations. The main scheme Warm Front in England, Warm Deal in Scotland, the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme in Wales and the Warm Homes Scheme in Northern Ireland. These schemes are funded by the government and provide energy advice and grants to help with the cost of home insulation. These schemes also help to improve energy efficiency for certain groups of people including those on low incomes. These cover owner-occupiers and people in rented accommodation. In some cases, the maximum grant available does not cover the full cost of the work and you have to pay something towards the costs.

Contact your local Energy Advice Saving centre for information on energy savings schemes and grants. Find your local centre on freefone 0800 512 012 or the Energy Savings Trust website at www.energysavingtrust.org.uk. Many independent fuel companies and local authorities operate schemes and grants and also provide energy advice. Grants can be given for work connected to any energy saving measures for providing gas or electric central heating. Grants can also be given for low-energy light bulbs.


England - Heating Rebate Scheme

If you don't qualify for Warm Front you may be able to get a grant under the heating rebate scheme. You need to be sixty or over, or live with a partner aged sixty. The maximum grant under this scheme is £300. To qualify you must have either no central heating system or one which is not working. This rebate can be used for gas, electric or solid fuel installations or repairs.

England – The Warm Front Scheme

Warm Front is run by a company called eaga. Eaga is known as the scheme manager. You can apply to the Warm Front scheme for a grant to carry out many energy saving plans. To qualify for a Warm Front grant, you must meet certain conditions. The maximum Warm Front grant is for £2,700, or £4,000 if oil-fired central heating is to be installed. Landlords can be entitled to a Landlord's Energy Saving Allowance of up to £1,500 a property if they carry out energy saving improvements. Landlords aren't allowed to raise the rent on properties which have benefited from a Warm Front grant for a set period after the completion of the works. If your landlord attempts to do this, you should get help from an adviser.


Wales - Home Energy Efficiency Scheme

You are eligible for a Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES) grant in Wales if you are in a household with a child under sixteen and getting Child Benefit, or have a maternity certificate, and you are getting one or more certain benefits. An enhanced grant, called Home Energy Efficiency Scheme Plus is also available. Owner-occupiers over sixty years of age in Wales may be able to get a grant of £500 to contribute towards the cost of home energy efficiency work. This is called a partial grant.


Scotland - Scottish Government Central Heating Programme

You may be able to benefit from free central heating and home insulation in Scotland under the Scottish Government Central Heating Programme. This covers owner occupiers and tenants of private landlords.


Scotland - The Warm Deal Grant

You may be able to get the Warm Deal Grant in Scotland if you are an owner or tenant in private sector housing and getting some welfare benefits. You may also be able to get a Grant if you are over sixty. The Grant is for fitting insulation to help make your home more energy efficient. This maximum grant is £500.


Northern Ireland - Warm Homes Grant

You are also eligible to receive a new Warm Homes grant in Northern Ireland under certain conditions. The maximum Warm Homes grant is £850. There is an enhanced grant, called Warm Homes Plus. The maximum amount for this particular grant is currently £4,300. It is available to householders aged sixty or over, who receive one or more benefits.


Getting Help With Winter Fuel Bills


Winter Fuel Payments

If you are sixty or over you can get a Winter Fuel Payment to help with your energy costs. This payment is a tax-free payment paid every year over the winter months. It does not matter how you use the money, and the payment does not depend on how cold the weather gets. There are other payments that are only paid when the weather reaches a certain temperature, called cold weather payments. These are made to people on income related benefits during cold weather.


Winter Fuel Payment – How Much?

Winter Fuel Payment is usually announced in the summer before the qualifying week in September. For the winter of 2007/08 the Winter Fuel Payment was £200 per household (£300 where you or your partner were aged 80 or over). For the winter of 2008/09, the Winter Fuel Payment is £250 per household (£400 where you or your partner are aged 80 or over). If you live in a care home, you get a reduced rate of Winter Fuel Payment. In 2007/08, this was £100, or £150 if you were 80 or over. In 2008/09, this is £125 or £200 if you are 80 or over. But if you live in a care home and get Pension Credit or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, you will not get a Winter Fuel Payment at all. People who are entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment do not need to make a claim. You will automatically get a payment if you get Retirement Pension, Pension Credit, or one of a number of other benefits in the qualifying week.

Who Gets a Winter Fuel Payment?

If you are over sixty or over you can get a Winter Fuel Payment for the winter concerned. The qualifying week begins on the third Monday of September. You must live in the United Kingdom to get a Winter Fuel Payment and there must be no immigration conditions on your stay here. Some people cannot get a payment even if they are over sixty. If you are in hospital, during the qualifying week (and have been there for over a year), and some people living in a care home don't qualify.


Cold Weather Payments

Those who are on a low income may be able to get a cold weather payment to help with their fuel costs during periods of cold weather. But it does not matter what you spend the money on, and cold weather payments do not have to be repaid. These payments are made when the weather station linked to your area forecasts or records an average daily temperature of 0 degrees centigrade or less for seven days in a row.


Getting Help With Fuel Arrears

In England, Scotland and Wales, if you're in arrears with your gas or electricity, you may be able to get help from your supplier. Some suppliers have set up independent trusts which give grants to some of their customers to help them pay for fuel arrears. You may also be able to get grants to pay for other household bills.


Who Can Help?


The Energy Saving Trust

The Energy Saving Trust can assess your needs and offer advice on all aspects of energy efficiency. They can also offer advice on grants or schemes available in your area. Contact your local Energy Saving Trust advice centre at www.energysavingtrust.org.uk.


Consumer Focus

In England, Wales and Scotland, Consumer Focus is the consumer watchdog responsible for protecting the interests of gas and electricity consumers. Consumer Focus has information about: changing your fuel supplier, which supply companies operate in your area and the prices they charge, price comparison services, how to use less energy and cut your fuel bills. Go to: www.consumerfocus.org.uk.

 

 

Advice Guide

Advice Guide can give help and advice about changing your energy supplier. They are a telephone and online consumer advice service, supported by the Office of Fair Trading and local authority Trading Standards services. It is available in England, Scotland and Wales. Website: www.adviceguide.org.uk.


Consumer Council for Northern Ireland

 

The Consumer Council for Northern Ireland can give you advice and information about changing your fuel supplier. You can visit their website at: www.consumercouncil.org.uk.

 

 

The Home Heat Helpline

The Home Heat Helpline offer advice on fuel debts and energy efficiency to customers who are having difficulty heating their homes or paying their bills. The helpline can give you help and advice on identifying energy efficiency grants, arranging alternative payment methods, carrying out benefits checks and getting specialist advice. You can contact the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99.


Age UK

Age UK produce a number of useful fact sheets and can offer telephone advice for older people. Visit: www.ageuk.org.uk.


Electricity and Gas Suppliers

Suppliers of gas and electricity have to provide information on energy saving measures as a condition of trading. For further information, contact your fuel supplier and ask them about the energy advice offered. You can find details of electricity and gas suppliers on the Consumer Focus website at: www.consumerfocus.org.uk.


Disabled Customers

Disabled people may be able to get a disabled facilities grant to improve their heating system. They may also be able to get a grant or some other form of assistance from your local authority to help with home insulation.

 


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