Energy bills are a concern for many people. Our consumer research regularly highlights that large numbers of UK residents are worried about their energy costs, and would like to do something about it.
Being more energy efficient at home is one way to reduce your bill payments. But often, you need to invest in home improvements before you can access the biggest savings. Financial help is available in a number of circumstances, with the focus very much on keeping warm for less.
If you want to make energy improvements to your home or heating system then the main source of help is something called the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). This is a GB-wide scheme which obliges energy companies to install energy efficiency measures in the homes of those who need them most.
If someone in your household receives a pension or is on benefits, then more support schemes are open to you. But some financial support, grants and loans are available to everyone.
We go through what’s available in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland below, as different grants and loans are available in each nation.
Choose your nation to find out more about how to access support where you live:
If anyone in your household is receiving benefits, then the first place to start is by asking your energy supplier (Npower, SSE, Scottish Power etc) if they can help. They should be able to tell you what help is available through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO).
You can also try calling your local authority – they will be aware of any local initiatives in your area that can provide help.
And you can look at the Simple Energy Advice website, which includes lots of information and guidance on financial support, as well as information on how to save energy.
The government and energy suppliers (via the Northern Ireland Sustainable Energy Programme) provide grants to help you implement energy-saving measures in your home, such as grants for energy-efficient boilers, heating, loft insulation and cavity wall insulation.
Affordable Warmth is funded by the Department for Social Development. If you are an owner occupier or householder of a privately rented property and your gross annual household income is less than £20,000 you may be eligible for a package of energy-efficiency and heating measures, tailored to each household.
The scheme, provided by funding from the Northern Ireland Executive, offers owner occupiers a grant of up to £1,000 to:
It is available to those who earn less than £40,000 a year with an inefficient boiler of at least 15 years and is dependent on total gross income. The scheme, administered by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), is targeted at householders who do not qualify for other Government energy-efficient improvement schemes, making them vulnerable to fuel poverty.
The Utility Regulator’s Northern Ireland Sustainable Energy Programme provides over £7million of funding for energy efficiency work in NI each year.
Bidders to this scheme have designed a range of offers and incentives for those people who fall outside of government run scheme criteria. Visit the Utility Regulator for a current list of providers.
If you’re based in Scotland, you can call the Home Energy Scotland service on 0808 808 2282 for free, impartial, expert advice on what grants and loans are available to you.
There’s a wide range of financial support available for Scottish residents, including those who are struggling to heat their home.
Find out more about Grants and Loans available in Scotland on the Home Energy Scotland part of the site.
The Welsh Government Warm Homes Nest scheme aims to make Welsh homes warmer and more energy efficient places to live.
Nest is open to all householders in Wales and provides advice on saving energy, money management, energy tariffs, and benefit entitlement.
In addition to free advice, if you own or privately rent your home and you or someone you live with receives a means tested benefit you may be eligible for home improvements at no cost.
If you are eligible, a Nest assessor will visit your home and recommend a tailored package of improvements that will help to make your home warmer and save you money on your energy bills. Suggested improvements, funded by the Welsh Government, may include a new central heating boiler, radiators, heating controls and insulation.
If your home is hard to heat, contact Nest on Freephone 0808 808 2244 for free advice and to see if you are eligible for free home improvements, or visit the Nest website for more information.
If you plan to generate electricity from solar panels, or even from a wind turbine or small hydro plant, then you could potentially earn money from the Feed-in Tariff for every unit of electricity you generate, as well as being paid for feeding any surplus back into the grid.
You’ll need to be quick though – the Feed-in Tariff closes to new applicants at the end of March 2019. The Feed-in Tariff is not available in Northern Ireland.
You can find further details on the relevant renewable electricity pages.
This is for supporting new renewable heating systems like heat pumps, biomass boilers and solar water heating. There’s more information on our renewable heating pages.
The Renewable Heat Incentive is not available in Northern Ireland
If you were born on or before 5 August 1953 and you receive the State Pension or another social security benefit, you could well be eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment. This offers between £100 and £300 to help with energy bills in those chilly months when they tend to peak.
Other options include the Warm Home Discount, another winter-only payment of £140 towards energy bills for those who claim the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or are on a low income. Your electricity supplier must be part of the scheme, but as this list shows, the vast majority of them are.
To help with the very coldest periods, there’s the Cold Weather Payment. This is £25 to help with bills after seven days of sub-zero conditions. You qualify if you’re receiving certain benefits – details of this, and of the other grants and payments, can be found on the government’s Simple Energy Advice website.
Don’t despair if you can’t qualify for assistance from these programmes. You can still reduce your energy bills by being more energy efficient. We've got information to help you:
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