Save energy and reduce your bills

With the average household fuel bill at £1,300 a year it’s now the time to reduce your spending on energy.
There are lots of free and low-cost ways you can keep warm and save money but sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start.
Can my energy company help towards the cost of my bills?
If you’re worried about keeping warm this winter, it is worth finding out from your energy company if you are entitled to any help towards your energy bills.
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. This gives you £140 off your electricity bills for the winter and the 2019 to 2020 scheme will start on 14 October 2019. The money isn’t paid directly to you; it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill between September and March.
If you do think you qualify make sure you contact your electricity company to register for the discount.
To find out if they are part of the scheme, visit the government web pages on the Warm Homes Discount Scheme.
Winter Fuel Payment
If you were born on or before 5 April 1954 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 claiming payments for winter 2019 to 2020 is 31 March 2020.
Most payments are made automatically between November and December. You should get your money by 13 January 2020.
What other free services are available from my energy company?
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 premises is able to read 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.
Struggling with your water bills too? You may be able to reduce your water costs.
A number of water companies now offer special discounted tariffs that could help you cut your bill by 50%.
If your water company is Thames Water you could be benefit from their Thames WaterSure Plus scheme which assists customers who are either on a low income or are on a water meter and use lots of water due to factors such as having a large family or having a water-dependent medical condition. The WaterSure scheme caps qualifying customers’ water bills to an average price, based on what other customers pay. For this year 2019/20 that’s a total of £398 and if you use less water than the average, you will pay lower than this amount.
For 2019-20, the discount is 50%. A low income is considered below £16,105, increasing to £19,201 if you live in a London borough, due to higher living costs.
To find out if you qualify for WaterSure and how to apply, see the Thames Water website or call them on 0800 009 3652.
If you are an Anglian or Southern Water customer, the criteria for WaterSure is different. You can find out more by visiting the Anglian Water or Southern Water website.
Save water, save money
Many water companies, including Thames Water and Affinity Water, offer free devices that you can order for your home to save water and thus save money on your bills. Some also offer free home visits to assess your water usage and give advice on how to save water.
To find out more, visit your water company website.