If you’re struggling to heat your home or pay your fuel bills there are a number of ways we can help.
If your bills are high, think about switching energy supplier via one of the Ofgem accredited switching sites or the Citizens Advice switching website. You may also want to consider the Barnsley Energy Tariff. If you don’t want to switch, ask your energy company to make sure you’re on the cheapest tariff.
If your energy bill is higher than usual, take a look at these common problems with energy bills on the Citizens Advice website. They also have a tool to help understand the different parts of your energy bill.
Consider having your prepayment meter removed
There are two kinds of gas and electricity meters. The type you have has a big impact on how much you pay for energy. They are:
- prepayment meter - you have to pay for energy before you use it, usually through a card or key at a shop
- credit meter - you pay for energy after you’ve used it, usually via direct debit
Paying for your energy with prepayment meters often means you're paying a lot more for your energy.
Contact your energy supplier for more information on how to change your meter. If your current supplier charges a fee to change, consider contacting another supplier to see if they could offer you a free credit meter.
Help towards paying for your energy bills
You can check you’re receiving all the benefits you’re entitled to by speaking to our Welfare Rights Service.
You can also see if you may be eligible for three heating-related benefits:
- £140 discount on your energy bills with the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
This should be paid automatically if you receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit. Energy suppliers may also offer this discount to other people who receive certain benefits, are on a low income, or are elderly. To find out if you qualify, contact your energy supplier directly.
- £100 - £300 contribution towards your energy bills with the Winter Fuel Payment.
- Extra help if temperatures fall below a certain level with the Cold Weather Payment.
Get help with energy debt
There's a range of organisations who can help you with debt.
For energy debt, firstly check if there might be a problem with your energy supply or bill and if you're responsible for the bill.
If you're responsible for the arrears but can’t pay them up front, try to make contact with your energy company as soon as possible. Before you call, write down your incoming and outgoings and work out how much you could afford to pay back as a repayment plan – making sure this amount is realistic. When speaking with your energy company make sure you tell them if you're on a low income or benefits, or if there's anyone in your home who is elderly, disabled or under five years of age.
Trusts and funds that can help clear energy debt
There are several energy trusts and funds which can help clear debt on fuel bills:
- British Gas Energy Trust
- EDF Energy Trust
- E.ON Energy Fund
- NPower Energy Fund
- Scottish Power Hardship Fund
- SSE Priority Assistance Fund
In some cases these trusts and funds can also provide payments to help with the cost of buying essential, energy-efficient household items. Citizens Advice can help with applying for these.
Consider making home improvements
Making changes to your home to make it cheaper and warmer to live in can have a big impact on your energy bills.
Take a look at the Energy Saving Advice Service for more tips of improving your home to make it warmer.
Energy companies are currently offering their customers smart meters, with everyone due to be offered one by 2020.
Getting a smart meter may help you better understand how your home uses energy and help you save money, but you don’t have to accept it if you don’t want one.
You can find out more about smart meters on the Smart Energy GB website.
Register for priority service from your energy supplier
You might be able to get extra support from your energy supplier by signing up to the priority services register if you:
- are disabled or seriously ill
- are recovering from an injury
- have mental health problems
- don’t speak or read English well
- have children under 5, or are pregnant
- have reached your state pension age
Benefits of priority service can include free energy saving advice, a password protection scheme to protect you from cold-callers, your meter moved free of charge if it’s hard for you to use or read, and bills sent to a relative, carer or friend to help you check them. You might also get advance notice if your supply is going to be interrupted, priority re-connection if your supply is interrupted, and annual gas safety checks (subject to further eligibility criteria). Find out more on the Ofgem website.
To find out if you’re eligible to join the priority service register, contact your energy supplier.
Who else can help?
Take a look at the leaflets below to find out who else can help with high energy bills and other problems:
Throughout the year we hold drop-in sessions at various locations in the borough. These are your opportunity to get advice on:
- energy saving options for your home
- switching energy supplier
- Better Homes Barnsley funding options
- help with fuel debt
- keeping warm in winter
Follow our Facebook page to find out locations and see updates.