How to save money on your energy bills and what support there is to help you pay the bills
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What’s happening to energy bills from January?
From 1 January 2024 the ‘Energy Price Cap’ will rise by about 5%, so a household with a typical consumption on dual electricity and gas will pay:
- £1,928 a year if they pay by direct debit
- £2,058 if they pay by standard credit (on receipt of bill)
- £1,960 if they have a prepayment meter.
The Energy Price Cap, which is set by the energy regulator Ofgem, is the maximum amount your supplier can charge you for a single unit of gas or electricity if you’re on a standard variable tariff.
How this affects what you’ll pay for gas and electricity depends on the tariff you’re on. If you're not sure what tariff you're on, check your energy bills or contact your energy supplier.
If you're on your supplier's 'default tariff', this is the same as a standard variable tariff. You’re probably on a default tariff if you haven’t switched suppliers in the last year, or you’ve never checked what tariff you’re on.
If you’re on a standard variable tariff
From 1 January 2024, the average energy bill for a household on a default tariff, or standard variable tariff, paying by direct debit will be around £1,928 per year but remember even if you are on a default tariff your bill will be determined by how much energy you use, so if you use more gas or electric your bill will be more than £1,928.
Ofgem will review the Energy Price Cap for bills from 1 April 2024 - this means the price of energy might change again. This will be announced by 23 February 2024.
If you’re not on a default / standard variable tariff, for example you’re on a fixed tariff or a time-of-use tariff then contact your supplier to check how your bills will change after 1 January 2024.
What support and financial help is still available towards energy bills and the cost of living?
You can get help if you’re struggling to afford your energy bills, or top up your prepayment meter. You might also be able to get certain benefits, grants and help offered by the government and energy suppliers.
Government support - Cost of Living Payments 2023 to 2024
You may be able to get up to 5 payments to help with the cost of living if you’re getting certain benefits or tax credits.
You do not need to apply. If you’re eligible, you’ll be paid automatically in the same way you usually get your benefit or tax credits. This includes if you’re found to be eligible at a later date.
|If you have had a message asking you to apply or contact someone about the payment, this might be a scam.
These payments are not taxable and will not affect the benefits or tax credits you get.
- Low income benefits and tax credits Cost of Living Payments
The payment will be made separately from your benefit payments.
If you’re entitled, you will get:
- £301 paid between 25 April 2023 and 17 May 2023 for most people
- £300 paid during autumn 2023 for most people
- £299 paid between 6 and 22 February 2024 for most people.
If you have a joint claim on the qualifying dates, a single payment of £301, £300 and £299 will be sent using the same payment method used between these dates, if you’re eligible.
- £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment
Around six million people across the UK who receive the certain disability benefits, such as DLA, PIP and Attendance Allowance will receive a one-off payment of £150. Most people will have been paid the £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment during summer 2023. The government will make these payments directly to eligible people across the UK.
- Pensioner Cost of Living Payment
If you’re entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment for winter 2023 to 2024, you will get an extra £150 or £300 paid with your normal payment from November 2023.
The full amount of Winter Fuel Payment (including the Pensioner Cost of Living Payment) you will get for winter 2023 to 2024 depends on when you were born and your circumstances during the qualifying dates.
You should be sent a letter in October or November telling you how much Winter Fuel Payment you’ll get if you’re eligible. If you do not get a letter but think you are eligible, check if you need to make a claim
The deadline for you to make a claim for winter 2023 to 2024 is 31 March 2024.
Extension of Household Support Fund
The Government is also providing £842 million of support, via the Household Support Fund, running from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024. The Household Support Fund helps those in most need with payments towards the rising cost of food, energy, and water bills. The Household Support Fund is administered by local councils in England, and eligibility will be determined by individual councils. Further information is available directly from Wiltshire Council.
You can find more detailed information about all the Cost of living support from the Government, including examples of how much money you could receive, depending on your circumstances and what benefits make you eligible for which Cost of living payments on .gov.uk
Other support you may be eligible for:
Warm Home Discount: This gives you money off your electricity bill if you’re on a low income.
If you get benefits, you might be able to get £150 off your electricity bill or £150 added to your prepayment meter. If you, or your partner get the guaranteed element of pension credit, you should get the discount.
Check with your supplier to see if they offer the Warm Home Discount because not all of them do. You can only get the discount if your supplier is in the scheme. You don’t need to apply for the scheme - payments are automatic.
You might also be able to get the Warm Home Discount if you get a different benefit and the government decides you have 'high energy costs'. They'll work this out automatically - you don't need to contact them.
Winter Fuel Payment: This is an annual one-off payment to help you pay for heating during the winter.
You can usually get a Winter Fuel Payment if you were born on or before 25 September 1957. If you’re eligible, you should get this automatically.
You’ll automatically get an extra 'pensioner cost of living payment' with your usual Winter Fuel Payment in either November or December 2023.
Cold Weather Payments:
Cold Weather Payments are one-off payments to help you pay for extra heating costs when it’s very cold. You’ll get a payment each time the temperature drops below a specific temperature for a set period of time. You’ll only be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment if you already get certain benefits. If you're eligible, you should get paid automatically. Find out more about Cold Weather Payments
Get support from your energy supplier: Call your supplier and ask them if they offer any grants to help with your energy bills. Even if you’re not eligible for grants, suppliers still need to support you to manage your payments based on what you can afford. Depending on your circumstances, they may also offer you a referral for independent debt support or energy efficiency advice. They may also be able to offer you temporary credit for your prepay meter that you’ll need to repay.
Local energy grants and support:
Surviving Winter Grant: The Surviving Winter grant can provide households with £200 to help with winter fuel costs. Grants are made from funds raised by the Wiltshire Community Foundation’s annual Surviving Winter campaign. If you are of pensionable age or have a long-term health condition which is exacerbated by the cold weather and are on a low income you may be eligible for support through the Surviving Winter programme. To find out more please contact:
- Age UK Wiltshire - if you are of pensionable age on 0808 196 2424
- Warm and Safe Winter - if you are working age on 0800 038 5722
If you can't afford to top up your prepayment meter you might be able to get a fuel voucher. You can contact us
at Wiltshire Citizens Advice for more details about this. We can also help with food bank vouchers too.
Is there anything more I can do to save money on energy?
There are some simple things you can do to save some money on your energy bills. They won’t cover all the extra costs, but they can make a difference.
Here's our five winter warmer tips:
1. Turn down your thermostat by 1°C and save around £105 a year on energy bills.
But to keep comfortable and stay safe we recommend staying above 18°C.
2. Switch your heating off when leaving the house for a few hours.
It’s cheaper to reheat your home than keep your heating on low when you’re out, unless you own a heat pump.
3. Keep the heat in: Fit draught-proofing strips to your windows and doors and save around £45 a year.
This can be a quick DIY job. Keeping extra heat in your home will leave you feeling warmer and more comfortable.
4. Get a hot water cylinder jacket and save roughly £50 a year on energy bills.
Jackets are easy to fit, typically cost under £30, and you’ll also spend less on a hot shower or bath in the future.
5. Keep furniture away from radiators and heaters to feel warmer at home.
Don’t overwork your system by blocking your source of heat and remember to remove radiator covers to get more value for money.
We know this is a stressful and worrying time. We’re encouraging people to consider small ways they can make savings at home wherever possible and make sure they’re getting all the support they’re entitled to.
If you’re struggling, worried you might not be able to afford to top up your meter, or pay your bills, or are having any issues with your energy supplier, don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can help you find a way forward.
Call us on freephone 0800 144 8848
(Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm) or email us
for support and advice.
First published 9 January 2024.