Coronavirus: information and updates

Help with gas and electricity bills

If you think you are paying too much for your energy bills, there are things you can do to lower your bill.

For example, the government offers help to pay for gas, electricity or heating oil for people who are most vulnerable in cold weather or those on low incomes.

If you would like to speak to someone about your energy bills, you can contact our Disability Energy Support service.

Disability Energy Support service

Your energy supplier can also support you if you’re in debt. This can include advice or a financial payment. Check with your supplier as schemes vary.

Getting financial help from your energy supplier

Warning Switching suppliers

You could save hundreds of pounds by switching to a cheaper provider. Many energy suppliers can switch you in just over 2 weeks. It’s worth checking what deals are available at least once every year.

How to switch gas and electricity supplier (MoneyHelper)

Choosing the right energy tariff (Citizens Advice)

Finding a better energy deal (Ofgem)

Switching when you are in debt

You can switch even if you have up to £500 debt on your energy bill.

Your debt might be passed onto your new supplier. If it is, your new supplier will arrange a repayment plan with you or arrange to pay off your debt through your prepayment meter.

If your debt stays with the old supplier, they will arrange the repayment plan.

Working out a payment plan with your supplier (Ovo)

Getting help from your supplier

Ask for the best tariff

Your supplier must give you information about their best tariffs. This information should be on every bill. They can only give you the right information if your meter reading is correct. Ask your supplier if you are on their most suitable tariff for you.

Switch to a standard meter

If you are using a prepayment meter, find out about switching to a standard meter.

The benefit of prepayment meters is that you know exactly how much you are spending. You can only use the energy that you have paid for in advance. They can help you to keep track of your spending.

But with a standard meter, you can choose from cheaper tariffs. You could save hundreds of pounds a year by switching to a better tariff.

If you have a standard meter, check your bill. Your energy company could be estimating how much you use.

You may need to pay to change to a standard meter.

If you are already in arrears, your supplier may ask you to repay your debt before they agree to switch your meter.

If you are in debt to your supplier

Most companies have a ‘vulnerable debt team’. Ask to speak to them if you have not been able to pay your bill. They can arrange a repayment plan. They will ask you about how much you can afford to pay and how much energy you use. They can also offer advice on how to use less energy at home.

Give your energy supplier your meter reading. Without a correct meter reading, your supplier can only estimate your usage.

If you are in debt, providing an up-to-date meter read will allow your supplier to tell you the exact amount you owe. If you have a prepayment meter, they will take part of each payment to pay off your debt over an agreed period.

For example, if you pay £5 into your meter, your supplier might use £1 to pay off your debt and put £4 towards your energy supply.

If you do have a standard meter, your supplier will agree a repayment plan with you based on your current income.

Suppliers usually ask for debt to be repaid within 12 months. They can extend this to 2 years for customers who are disabled or have a long-term health condition.

Help and advice when you are in debt

Paying off energy debt (Citizens Advice)

Priority Services Register

Sign up for your supplier’s Priority Services Register if you or your child:

  • are disabled
  • have a long-term health condition
  • use medical equipment that depends on your electricity supply, such as a dialysis machine

This means they can offer you extra free services, such as priority support in an emergency.

Priority Services Register

Warning Third party deductions reduce your benefits

Paying your energy bill from your benefits gives you a secure energy supply, but you will have less money in each benefit payment. Get advice if you are worried about getting into debt. Debt advice is free.

Contact a debt adviser

Winter Fuel Payment

You could get between £100 and £300 tax free to help pay your heating bills if you were born on or before 5 November 1953. This is known as a Winter Fuel Payment.

Most payments are made between November and December. You should get your money by Christmas.

You usually get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you get the State Pension or another social security benefit. This does not include:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Reduction
  • Child Benefit
  • Universal Credit

You qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment if both the following apply:

  • you were born on or before 5 November 1953
  • you were a UK resident for at least 1 day during a specific week in the September before payments are made. In 2019, this was 16 to 22 September. These dates change slightly each year.

If you do not get paid automatically, you’ll need to make a claim.

Make a claim for winter fuel payment (GOV.UK)

Cold Weather Payment

You may get a Cold Weather Payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees Celsius or below for 7 days in a row.

Cold Weather Payments

Warm Home Discount

Warm Home Discount will take £140 off your electricity bill between September and March. The discount will not affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.

Warm Home Discount Scheme

Rebates when you use an oxygen concentrator

If you use an oxygen concentrator at home, you can get a rebate for the electricity it uses. The company that supplies your concentrator can make payments to your bank account.

Electricity Rebates (BOC Home Oxygen Service)

Electricity Refund (Air Liquide Healthcare)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 16/04/2021

Was this page helpful?

We're sorry to hear that.

Tell us how we can improve it

Need more help with your energy bills?

Opens in a new windowOpens an external siteOpens an external site in a new window