If you're worried about paying your energy bills, or your health is affected by living in a cold home, we can help by giving you advice on making your home warmer and cheaper to run.
We can advise you on:
- improving your home with energy saving measures
- energy bills and tariffs
- energy debt
- income and benefit maximisation
Fill in our online contact form to ask how we could help you; we're able to visit you at home.
You can also find out more below:
Help with energy bills during coronavirus outbreak
Because of the coronavirus outbreak, energy companies have been asked to make some changes to the way they work
- If you're unwell or self-isolating (and because of this, cannot get to a shop to top up your meters) – many energy companies are offering alternate arrangements to help you top up if you can’t leave your home. Give your energy company a ring if this is affecting you.
- If you're unable to pay for your energy bills, your energy company has to work with you to find a solution. This could include: reviewing bill payment plans, including debt repayment plans; payment breaks or reductions in how much you pay; giving you greater time to pay; and in some cases access to hardship funds.
For more details about the changes energy companies are making during the coronavirus outbreak, visit the Ofgem website. If you would like any advice on your energy bills during the coronavirus outbreak, give our Warm Homes team a call on 01226 773366. Our specialist advisers can talk you through your rights and options if you are having trouble paying for your energy.
If you are experiencing financial hardship and struggling to pay your energy bills you can also contact our Local Welfare Assistance team.
Apply for energy bill discounts and benefits
We can check you’re receiving all the benefits you’re entitled to and how you can maximise your income to make your energy bills more affordable. We can 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 you 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.
Pay less for the energy you use
If your bills are high we can advise you about switching energy supplier via one of the Ofgem accredited switching sites. If you don't want to switch energy company, we can help you look for the cheapest tariff with your current provider.
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 pre-payment 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:
- pre-payment 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.
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.
Get help with energy debt
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:
- 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. We can help you with applying for these; contact us using our online form.
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 priority services register website.
To find out if you’re eligible to join the priority service register, speak to your energy supplier or contact us.
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.
Where else you can get help
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