16 tips to save on your energy bills
Small changes can add up to significant savings.
These suggestions could help to counter the impact of rising energy bills:
- If you’re struggling to pay bills, you could contact your energy supplier and network operator to see if you can be included on their Priority Services Register. This applies if you live in England, Scotland or Wales and you can check if you’re eligible here.
In Northern Ireland, some suppliers offer customer care schemes. Contact your supplier to see what support they can offer. You can also find out about help offered by the NIE Networks’ Critical Care Scheme if you rely on life-supporting electrical equipment.
- Your energy supplier will have a department to help customers who are struggling with paying their bills and have a customer duty to work with you to help. For instance, they could set up a more manageable payment plan.
- If you are a disabled person or care for a disabled person, you could look into applying for a grant – Disability Rights UK has useful information.
- Scope runs a Disability Energy Support Service. Find out more here.
- Check the thermostat is not set at too high a temperature (unless someone has a particular illness or condition that means they require extra heat).
- It's good to remind yourself that wearing lots of layers will help you to trap warm air and keep warm, which is often more effective than just wearing a cosy jumper.
- You could keep warm with hot water bottles at night-time.
- Close curtains, whenever possible, to keep in the heat.
- Turn off the TV at the wall rather than using stand by.
- Try to reduce draughts in the home with draught excluders.
- You may also be entitled to extra help to improve your home’s insulation. If you live in England, Scotland or Wales and want to make energy improvements to your home or heating system, you may be eligible for the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme.
- Try to transfer to LED lights, which use less energy than conventional lights.
- If you have a dishwasher, tumble dryer or washing machine, try to reduce how often you use them and use a lower temperature for washing clothes.
- See if you're eligible for a rebate of £150 from your local council. This may apply if you are in a Council Tax band from A-D. Check if this applies to you at: https://www.gov.uk/council-tax-bands.
- See below for discount schemes and certain benefits that you may also be eligible for. There are also details of many useful sources of help listed here on the Citizens Advice website. Contact our Carers UK Helpline team on email@example.com to find out if you can apply for any other benefits.
- Have you considered a smart meter? This can help you see exactly how much energy you're using and can enable you take regular meter readings. Find out more
We know that not all of these tips will be applicable to everyone's caring situation, but we hope you will find some of them helpful.
Frequently asked questions
The Winter Fuel Payment is a yearly tax-free payment of between £250 and £600 to help people pay for their heating in winter. You'll usually receive a letter if you are entitled to this. Getting the payment will not affect any of your other benefits.
To qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment you must meet the following conditions:
- you were born on or before 25 September 1956
- you must have lived in the UK for at least one day throughout the qualifying week of 18 to 24 September 2023. There are several exceptions to this rule - see this link.
How much you get would depend on your circumstances during the qualifying week (18 to 24 September 2024) - find more information on the gov.uk website.
There is also a pensioner cost-of-living additional amount available just for this winter 2023-24.
How do I claim this?
Payment is automatic if you meet any of the following conditions:
- you received a payment last year
- you are getting a State Pension
- you or your partner are getting one of the following benefits: Pension Credit; income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA); income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
If any of the above don’t apply to you, for example – if you are getting Universal Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction and/or Child Benefit, then you will need to make a claim as your payment will not be automatic.
You can claim by post from 18 September 2023 and by phone from 4 October 2023.
To find out about claiming, call the Winter Fuel Payment helpline on 0800 731 0160 or send an email to make an enquiry. You can also download a claim form here (if you live in England, Wales or Scotland) or here (if you live in Northern Ireland).
Payments are generally made between November and December. To report a change in circumstances or to check why you didn't receive your payment (if not received by 31 March), contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre. Their details can be found here: www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment/report-change-circumstances.
If you live in Scotland, you can find out further information on the Scottish Winter Heating Payment on the Scottish Government website.
This scheme runs from the start of November to the end of March.
If you're receiving certain benefits, you may be able to get a payment of £25 for each week (between 1 November and 31 March), if the average temperature in your local area is at or below freezing over seven consecutive days.
Receiving these payments will not affect any other benefits you are claiming. Find out if your area is due a payment.
If you live in Scotland
Cold Weather Payments are no longer available but if you're receiving certain benefits, you may now be eligible for a Winter Heating Payment. This is a one-off payment of £50 to help with heating costs instead. This is not dependent on weather conditions in the area. Payments for winter 2022/23 will start from February 2023. You can find out more about this on the mygov.scot website.
If you live in Scotland
You can find out more about Winter Fuel Payments, which have replaced Cold Weather Payments, on the mygov.scot website.
If you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland
You are entitled to Cold Weather Payments if any of the following apply:
- you receive Pension Credit
- you receive Income Support or income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and have one or more of the following:
- a disability premium or a pensioner premium;
- a disabled child premium within your Income Support or income-based JSA;
-Child Tax Credit with a disabled child element or a severely disabled child element;
- or a child under five years old.
- you receive Universal Credit, you are not employed or self-employed, and you have one or more of the following: a child under five years old; or a limited capability for work element (with or without a work-related activity element) (or would do so but for the fact that you have a carer element)
- you receive Universal Credit and you have a disabled child element within your Universal Credit award (in this situation you can be in employment or self-employed).
Claiming Cold Weather Payments will not affect any other benefits you’re receiving.
How do I apply?
You don't need to apply. If you are entitled to a Cold Weather Payment, you’ll be paid it automatically. Cold Weather Payments are usually paid into the same bank or building society account as your benefit payments. After each period of very cold weather in your area, you should receive a payment to your account within 14 working days. Find out more about the scheme on this GOV.UK page.
You could get a one-off payment of £150 to reduce your electricity bill if you meet certain conditions. If your income is below a certain amount or you receive certain means-tested benefits, you may be able to claim this extra payment. Getting the discount will not affect any of your other benefits including a Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.
In England, Wales or Scotland, see the GOV.UK website to find out if you meet the conditions to qualify for this discount or contact the Warm Home Discount Team through your energy provider or on 0800 731 0214.
In Northern Ireland, there is a different scheme available called the Affordable Warmth Scheme: www.nihe.gov.uk/Housing-Help/Affordable-Warmth-Boiler-Replacement/Affordable-Warmth-Scheme
Each electricity supplier that is part of the scheme has their own extra eligibility conditions, and you should contact your supplier to see if you meet their conditions, and then find out how to apply.
You can see a list of many of the energy suppliers that are part of the scheme here.
You could contact your supplier to see if they have any discounted tariffs for vulnerable customers. Some suppliers also offer help with energy efficiency measures such as insulation or draught proofing.
If you are unable to benefit from a special discounted tariff, it is still worth asking if you could be paying less. They may be able to offer you a cheaper deal, or you might be able to save money by paying in a different way, for example by direct debit.
You may also want to shop around to see if you can find a better deal from another supplier, by using a price comparison website.
To use one of these services you will need to provide information such as your postcode, the name of your current supplier and the name of your deal, and an idea of how much you spend on gas and electricity.
You will then be provided with details of how much you would pay if you changed to other suppliers. You should also call the gas and electricity suppliers directly to confirm these prices, before making any decision.
Note: This information does not apply to Northern Ireland. There is only one electricity supplier and there are only two gas suppliers. You can still contact your supplier to see if you are on the best price plan and to ask if there is other help they may be able to provide.
Get smart with a smart meter
See our guidance on ways using a smart meter could help you keep a tighter rein on how much you’re spending.
They work on the premise of energy being accurately measured and recorded in real time rather than based on an estimate, which could save money. Our website has more information.
Need more advice on how to be more energy efficient?
To see where cuts can be made, it may be helpful to compare how much electrical appliances cost to use using the comparison tool on the Citizens Advice website.
LEAP is a free energy and money saving service. They provide a free in-home advice visit offering:
- free simple energy saving measures such as installing LED light bulbs and draught-proofing
- a check that you are on the best energy tariff
- the option to arrange a free money advice consultation if this would be helpful
- help with finding funding for further energy-saving home improvements.
If you are in debt with your electricity or gas supplier, you might be able to get a grant to help you with this payment.
Whether you will be able to get a grant will depend on your household income and savings/capital and your household circumstances.
In addition, grant providers generally like to see that you have had debt advice before you try and get help in the form of a grant. See our Dealing with debt page for details of how to get debt advice.
Some electricity and gas suppliers have trusts or funds which can offer grants to their own customers who are in debt:
- EDF Customer Support Fund
- Eon Energy Fund
- npower Energy Fund
- Ovo Energy Fund
- Scottish Power Hardship Fund
- SSE (Southern Electric) Priority Assistance Fund
In addition, the British Gas Energy Trust can offer grants to anyone in electricity or gas arrears, whether they are a British Gas customer or not.
When unexpected costs arise, one way of gaining the financial support you need to help meet these, are grants. Some charities as well as a range of other organisations offer these, as explained in our ‘Grants and schemes’ section.
The Energy Saving Trust offers independent expert advice on saving energy in your home and has information on their website which you can view here.
If you own or rent your home and are considering making energy efficiency improvements, there are a number of schemes provided by the government, energy suppliers and local councils, for example, that may be able to help. Some schemes are only available to people on low incomes or certain benefits.
What’s available will depend on whether you live in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The charity Turn2us provides some useful information on their web page or you could call their helpline.
Our Carers UK adviser has recorded some useful tips in this video: 'Tips and guidance for carers: worried about energy costs?'.