These are your heating and lighting and cooking bills and are usually the biggest cost after housing and food bills. You can get big savings by checking the costs, switching suppliers and making sure you are getting the help you are entitled to.
Please note that the site recommends switching suppliers to save money. At the moment that is unlikely to be the case as many energy companies are struggling. If you don’t find a better tariff than the one you’re on it’s probably better to wait until deals are available again”
There is help and advice available if you are struggling to pay your energy bills. See below for more information.
1. Financial support available for energy bills
- Warm Home Discount –£150 (reopens in October 2023)
Households on means tested benefits with high energy use may be eligible for a one off £150 payment from their energy supplier every winter. The £150 is not paid to the applicant but taken off their electricity bill sometime between September and March. The DWP will identify low income-high-cost addresses and match them to their energy supplier. Eligible households will get the rebate automatically. Those on Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit) will continue to receive this automatically.
- Energy Bills rebate – £150
A £150 one off payment between April and September 2022 for households in council tax bands A to D, known as the Council Tax Rebate. If you pay by direct debit, the payment should automatically be paid into your account. If you pay by other means you will have to contact your local authority to arrange payment to you.
The government announced additional support for households on certain benefits – full information can be found here Cost of Living Payments 2023 to 2024 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Household Support Fund – £110
Up to £110 payment to help with paying for household energy bills and food. Available to people experiencing immediate financial hardship. https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/council/communities/support-with-the-cost-of-living/household-support-fund
- Winter Fuel Payment – from £250 to £600
Automatic payment of up to £600 for people born before 25th Sept 1956. Payments are made automatically in November and December. Winter Fuel Payment
This is paid for periods of very cold weather lasting 7 days or more between 1 Nov and 31 March for people on specific eligible benefits. Cold Weather Payment: Overview – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme
CLAS can provide information, advice and practical support and assistance in times of exceptional pressure. Following an assessment, you may be eligible for a CLAS award. The awards can be in the form of supermarket vouchers, energy vouchers, new white goods, new beds. Applicants can self-refer. Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme
Access to the following grants is via a professional referral:
- Stay Well Grant – up to £400 (check website for availability as it will be closed at times when funds are exhausted and reopen when they are replenished)
Grants of up to £400 are awarded for vulnerable individuals and families facing fuel poverty. For those that are homeless, other costs of keeping warm (such as sleeping bags) will be considered. . Individual customers cannot apply on their own behalf. Please contact your local Citizens Advice – Citizens Advice Cambridge & District or Citizens Advice Rural Cambs for access to this grant. https://www.cambscf.org.uk/stay-well
Some of the bigger energy suppliers have their own funds to support households in energy arrears. Main examples include Eon and British Gas. These funds are open to all, not just their customers. Would advise going through a local Citizens Advice (see links above) for these grants, as a financial statement prepared by a Debt Advisor is needed as evidence of seeking Debt Advice.
2. Keeping track of energy costs
Knowing what you are using and spending on energy will help you feel more in control. You can do this by reading your meter regularly or getting a smart meter installed.
- Reading your meter: Always check your actual usage and let your supplier know if an estimated bill is too high. If you are unsure how to read your meter, check your supplier’s website or call them.
- Smart meters: These are free and you can see how much you are using every day and how these change depending on what you have switched on. If you are getting one installed check with your supplier that it is the most up to date version.
- IMPORTANT – if the information on your bill looks wrong contact your supplier.
3. Understanding energy bills
Electricity and gas are ‘priority’ bills – if you do not pay them, you run the risk of your supply being cut off. Your bills are made up of:
- Unit cost – Gas and electricity is sold in kilowatt-hours (kWh) and the price of these varies from supplier to supplier. The cost of fuel you use is the unit cost x the number of units you use. This is the only part of your bill that you have control over – the more units you use, the more you pay.
- Standing charge – this is a fixed cost that you have to pay every day regardless of how much energy you use.
- VAT – this is charged at 5%
- Discounts – you may be eligible for a discount if you get your gas and electricity from the same supplier or if you pay by direct debit
- Add ons – some suppliers add on for extra services, e.g., receiving a paper bill in the post.
Remember– The energy price cap is the maximum amount that the supplier can charge for the unit cost and standing charge – your energy costs will be higher than the price cap if you use more units.
4. Energy efficiency tips
Small changes can make a big difference. For example:
- Heating – turning down your thermostat by just one degree can save you on average £116 a year
- Lightbulbs – using low energy lightbulbs. Free low energy bulbs are available through PECT. Contact email@example.com to request
- Water – set your temperature to 60 degrees centigrade and close the door when bathing or showering
- Kitchen – only boil the water you need in a kettle and put lids on pans when cooking
- Appliances – turn off appliances on standby and if you are buying new appliances buy those with the best energy rating you can afford.
- Repairs – If your home is draughty due to repairs needed with windows or doors or fans, please report the repair so that you can avoid losing unnecessary heat. Contact your landlord if you are in rented property’.
More useful information here Warm and Safe Homes Advice – National Energy Action (NEA)
Face-to-face, telephone and online support available. BSL interpreters also available. 0800 304 7159 – Mon-Fri 10am – 12noon
5. Saving on water bills
Using less water at home will also save on energy costs/ You can consider:
- Water meter – ask your supplier if having a water meter will save you money or you can use water meter calculator Water meter calculator – CCW
- WaterSure – This scheme helps those with a water meter and on benefits and need to use a lot of water either for medical reasons or because the household has 3 or more children. Your water bill is capped, i.e. you will not pay more than the averaged metered bill for your area. Contact your water company to apply for WaterSure.
- Reduced tariff – Many water companies have social tariffs which offer reduced bills to customers who would otherwise struggle to pay. Schemes can differ in terms of who is eligible for help and what assistance is provided. Contact your water company to find out more.
- Water saving devices – your water company will also offer free water saving devices – contact them to find out more.
6. Advice services
- Cambridgeshire Home Energy Support Services (CHESS+) – provided by PECT and Cambridgeshire ACRE
Provides advice and support to households in Fenland, Huntingdonshire, East Cambs and Cambridge City around heating and energy. Following a referral or self-referral a call or home visit will be booked in with one of their energy advisors who will help with any relevant issues. Frontline workers can be kept up to date on this project by signing up to be a volunteer on the project.
To refer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 802 1773 or fill in the referral form on – www.pect.org.uk/energyadvice
Households in Peterborough and South Cambs can receive a similar service from LEAP to help with issues around heating and energy.
Call 0800 060 7567 or email email@example.com to refer in or visit www.applyforleap.org.uk for more information.
- Green Doctors Service East of England (focusing primarily on Cambridge City)
Free, impartial advice and support to help save energy, reduce your bills, and live in a warmer, more comfortable home. https://www.groundwork.org.uk/hubs/east/green-doctor/
7. Bills you cannot pay
If you cannot afford to top up or pay your energy bills, even after checking this advice, please seek more help. Useful contacts:
8. Priority Services Register
All energy and gas companies have priority services register for households in more vulnerable situations. The support available will depend on your supplier and your needs but offers you additional protection – contact your supplier to find out more.
9. Home improvements
Action on Energy is a partnership between Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council, East Cambridgeshire District Council, Fenland District Council, Huntingdonshire District Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council.
It provides residents with advice on how to maximise the energy efficiency of their homes, save money on their energy bills and cut their carbon emissions. Our authoritative advice includes information on the energy efficiency measures available, practical guidance, funding opportunities and support to find an installer. Action on Energy Cambridgeshire – Action on Energy Cambridgeshire (actiononenergycambs.org)
You can contact PECT and LEAP about these schemes and referrals into this if you do not have online access.
For those in Peterborough, South Cambs and Fenland, LEAP offer free boiler repairs. This scheme is currently closed but may open later in the year.
10. Other information
Other useful places to go for information include: