There’s been a lot of news coverage recently about higher costs for gas. This is due to strong global demand, leading to smaller energy providers going bust as have been unable to afford to buy enough gas to meet their customers’ needs.
The price of gas is expected to remain high during the colder months when most of us will be relying on central heating to heat our homes, leading to higher energy bills.
As of the beginning of October, it is yet to be confirmed whether the Government will offer any financial assistance to customers who may be struggling to pay but in the meantime here are some other steps that you could take:
Consider switching energy providers
Use a price comparison website like uSwitch to see if you can get a cheaper energy deal with a different supplier. If you were with a smaller energy company that has gone out of business and you have been automatically transferred to a new supplier, Ofgem advise waiting until the transfer is complete before you attempt to switch.
If you sign up to Look After My Bills, this free service will automatically find and switch you if there is a cheaper energy supplier available depending on your level of consumption.
Only pay for what you’ve used
Make sure you are submitting electricity and gas meter readings to your energy supplier every month. That way your bills will be based on your actual consumption rather than an estimated amount, and you won’t ever pay for more than you have used.
Warm Homes Discount
If you are on a low income or are in receipt of certain welfare benefits, and have a young child, you may be able to claim the Warm Homes Discount. You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2021 to 2022 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme. The scheme opens on 18 October 2021. The money is not paid to you; it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between October and March. You may be able to get the discount on your gas bill instead if your supplier provides you with both gas and electricity. Contact your supplier to find out.
Winter Fuel Payment
If you were born on or before 26 September 1955 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’. You usually get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you are eligible and you get the state pension or another social security benefit (not housing benefit, council tax reduction, child benefit or universal credit).
If you’re eligible but do not get paid automatically, you will need to make a claim.
The deadline for you to make a claim for winter 2021 to 2022 is 31 March 2022. Most payments are made automatically between November and December. You should get your money by 14 January 2022.
Other free services available from energy companies
If you are of pensionable age, disabled or chronically sick, you can ask your supplier if you qualify for their priority service register (PSR). Free services available to PSR customers may include:
- Advance notice of planned power cuts for customers who depend on their energy supply for medical reasons
- Priority in an emergency (this could include providing alternative heating and cooking facilities in the event of supply disconnection)
- Password protection scheme to provide reassurance that callers, for example meter readers, are genuine
- Bill nominee scheme – customers can ask their supplier to send their bill to anybody (for example a family member or carer) who has agreed to receive it
- Quarterly meter reading services (if no person occupying the premisesis able toread the meter)
To register contact your energy company directly. If you have different energy suppliers for gas and electricity, you will need to register with each.
Other ways to save energy
Ensure your central heating is programmed to only provide heating when you need it and reduce heat loss by drawing curtains at night. You should set the heating to go off during the night and when your home is empty during the day. If you keep your thermostat above 21°C then turning it down by 1 notch will deliver significant savings. 18 to 21°C is the recommended range for maintaining a comfortable temperature.
Newer radiators, or ones that have been serviced recently, will have thermostatic radiator valves. They have numbers on, usually 1–6. The valve shuts off the radiator once a room is at a certain temperature, depending on the number set.
- Set bathrooms to 6: keep your bathroom warm to stop the moisture settling, and ventilate it properly to stop mould building up.
- Set living room to 5 or 6. This is where you spend most of your time, and usually where your thermostat is found.
- Bedrooms should be about 3. We tend to sleep better when in cooler rooms because our bodies cool down when we sleep, and we’re often covered in blankets/duvets.
- Keep kitchens at 1-3. Your cooking will warm the kitchen.
Advice on switching and support to apply for energy grants
Residents in Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hounslow, Hillingdon, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster can self-refer to Green Doctor.
Residents in Camden can self-refer to WISH PLUS.
If you live in Lambeth, Lewisham or Southwark you can self-refer to South London Healthy Homes.
If you live in Essex you can self-refer to Green Doctors Essex
Advice with managing household budgets generally
Debt Free London offers independent and confidential debt advice.
Apply for a loan from London Plus Credit Union
London Plus Credit Union is a regulated, financial co-operative which provides savings, responsible lending and a range of services to its members. At Notting Hill Genesis, we want to help support you to save so you can manage future, unexpected costs. We will pay an £80 savings bonus to those residents who may choose to take out a family loan with the credit union, after a period of saving. (subject to eligibility, affordability and terms and conditions). Other products are available and you should discuss with the credit union which is most suitable for your needs. Find out more about what's on offer here.
Speak to us
If you're experiencing difficulties paying your rent, or getting behind with your payments, please tell your housing officer or property management officer right away. If you have rent arrears (missed payments) and cannot pay them straight away, you may be able to make an arrangement to pay them over a period of time.
Our welfare benefits advisers can provide one-to-one support if you have gaps in benefit payments, unexplained or incorrect shortfalls or who have been turned down for a benefit such as PIP. The adviser will appeal and challenge decisions and attend tribunals as required. Please speak to your housing or property management officer if you would like to be referred to one of our advisers.
Finally, to receive regular updates about our employment and support partners and projects, please join our mailing list.