Gas and electricity costs

With the rising cost of energy, it is becoming more difficult to keep bills affordable. Here are a few ways to save money on your gas and electricity bills.

How to switch gas and electricity suppliers

It's easier than ever to switch energy suppliers. With the help of a price comparison website you could save up to £300 per year by switching to a different gas and electric provider.

  • Step one - Find a copy of a recent energy bill you've received. It should contain information about your current energy plan, how much energy you use, and the name of your tariff. Summer bills are usually low, so it's worth checking your energy usage for the whole year. Your energy supplier should be able to supply this if you contact them.

  • Step two - Choose a price comparison website. There are a number of different price comparison websites you can use, but they don't all work with the same energy suppliers. Make sure you use few so you don't miss out on a potentially cheaper deal! Click here for a list of Ofgem accredited price comparison websites.

  • Step three - Start your search. Follow the instructions on the price comparison websites and look through the results of available plans. Many suppliers offer different rewards and incentives, so shop around to find a deal that's right for you. Look out for suppliers which charge early exit fees for switching.

  • Step four - Switch. You can begin the switch right from the comparison website and your new supplier will do the legwork to end your current contract. All you will have to do is provide meter readings and pay the final bill to your old supplier.

All said and done, the switchover should take just over two weeks. You can even change supplier if you have less than £500 of debt to you current supplier, although they can object.

Pre-payment meters

A lot of energy suppliers have a prepayment tariff, so if you 'pay-as-you-go' for your gas and electricity, you can still compare and pick a cheaper option. Simply choose a price comparison website and tell them you use a pre-payment meter.

Pre-payment meters are good for some people because it means you won't use more than you have to. However, they can also be one of the most expensive ways of buying energy.

You'll save more money by switching to a standard meter, so it's worth checking with your current supplier if you can change switch to a better deal. Your supplier may charge you to change your meter, or ask you to meet certain conditions, like not being in arrears for a certain length of time.

If you need help figuring out if switching to a standard meter would be better for you, call our benefits and money team for advice.

How to use less

There are a number of things you can do right now to try and reduce your energy bills:

  • Turn your thermostat down by 1°C and you could save around £80 a year
  • Close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows and check for draughts around windows and doors
  • Always turn off the lights when you leave the room - even if it's only for a few minutes
  • Don't leave appliances on standby and don't leave laptops and mobile phones on charge unnecessarily
  • Fill up the washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher before you use it - One full load uses less energy than two half loads
  • Only boil as much water as you need in the kettle to save around £7 a year
  • Turn off your taps. In one week a dripping hot water tap wastes enough hot water to fill half a bath
  • For a relatively small investment, LED spotlights could save you about £35 a year on bills. 

For more advice and information on how to cut your energy bills visit the Energy Saving Trust.


Get help with budgeting

Now might be a good time to make a list of all your income and outgoings. Drawing up a budget will help you figure out whether you can still make ends meet after all your bills have been calculated. Learn more about managing your money.

Grants and benefits which can help

Warm Home Discount Scheme

If you're on a low income you may be able to get £140 off your electricity bill under the Warm Home Discount scheme.

The money is a one-off discount on your electricity bill between September and March.

Contact your current energy supplier to see if they offer the Warm Home Discount. Not all suppliers do, so this may be yet another reason to switch and find a better deal!

The discounts are 'first-come, first-served' so try to claim as early as you can - most schemes open in late summer.

Your electricity supplier decides who can get the discount. If you're on a low income, or you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, you should be able to make an application.

Cold Weather Payments

If you claim certain benefits, you may be entitled to a Cold Weather Payment when the average temperature in your area drops below a specific point over a set period of time.

You'll get a payment of £25 for each seven day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.

You'll only be eligible if you already get:

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit

You should be paid this benefit automatically. If you haven't received it, and think you should have, our benefits and money advisors can help you make a claim.

Winter Fuel Payments

As long as you are at least the qualifying age for Pension Credit you could get an annual one-off payment to help pay for heating during the winter.

If you're eligible you'll usually receive this benefit automatically, but if you don't, you can make a claim on the GOV.UK website.

Grants from charitable trusts

The British Gas Energy Trust provide grants and schemes that are open to anyone who may be in debt to their energy supplier - you don't have to be a British Gas customer!

Other energy suppliers offer grants specifically for their customers:

Applying for a grant can take a while and you'll have to provide detailed information. If you need help making an application, get in touch so our benefits and money advisors can help.

We can help

If you're worried about paying your rent and also covering the costs of you gas and electricity bills you should contact us. Our benefits and money team can advise you on whether any extra financial help might be available.

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