Help to keep your energy costs manageable
A cold home can really affect your health and wellbeing.
Buildings are often cold due to ineffective heating, poor insulation, low income and the rapidly rising cost of energy. However, there are things you can do to help keep your home warmer. Support is also available for people on low income who are struggling to pay their bills.
This page contains help and advice on managing energy costs. You can find further information to help reduce household costs on our Cost of Living Support page.
Get extra support
If you're on a low income and are struggling to pay your bills, there is help out there. Turn2Us and Making Money Count can also direct you towards sources of financial and other support.
- Warm Home Discount. 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. Applications must be made directly to the energy supplier annually, except for those on Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit) who should receive this automatically.
- Energy Bills Support Scheme. Energy bills discount due to come in from October 2022 is being doubled from £200 to £400. Households will receive a £400 discount on their energy bills from October onwards. The discount is credited directly to their account/prepay meter.
- A Household Support Fund payment of up to £100 is available to people experiencing immediate financial hardship to help them to pay for household energy bills and food.
- Residents aged over 66 as of September 2022 will receive an automatic Winter Fuel payment of up to £300. This payment will be made in November and December.
- Residents on certain benefits will receive a Cold Weather payment for periods of very cold weather lasting 7 days or more between 1 Nov and 31 March.
- Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme (CLAS). 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 cookers, or recycled white goods and furniture. CLAS energy vouchers for people on prepaid meters are available via Cambridge & District Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Rural Cambs. Applicants can self-refer. Find out more information about CLAS.
You may also be able to access other grants after a professional referral.
- The Stay Well Grant (up to £400) is awarded to vulnerable families and families facing fuel poverty. For those that are homeless, other costs of keeping warm (such as sleeping bags) will be considered. Contact your local Citizens Advice to apply. More information is available on the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation website.
- Energy supplier grants. Some of the bigger energy suppliers have their own funds to support households in energy arrears, such as Eon and British Gas. These funds are open to everyone, not just their customers. It is suggested to go through your local Citizens Advice for these grants as a financial statement prepared by a Debt Advisor is needed as evidence of seeking Debt Advice. Charis also has more information about energy supplier grant schemes.
Reduce your bills
Consider switching your energy supplier. One way to do this is to take part in the Cambridgeshire Energy Switch.
If you buy domestic heating oil, you could join the bulk-buying Cambridgeshire Community Oil Buying Scheme.
If you live in Fenland, PECT offer a free energy advice service. This can help you to reduce your energy bill and carbon footprint.
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. Use low energy lightbulbs. Free low energy bulbs are available through PECT. To request them, email email@example.com
- 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. 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, report the repair so that you can avoid losing unnecessary heat.
Further energy efficiency tips are available on the Energy Saving Trust website.
Adding loft, cavity and external wall insulation will trap heat inside longer.
If you're in a low income private household, your installer can apply for funding to support home energy improvements from the Eco Flexible Eligibility Scheme.
The Action on Energy Grant Scheme, run in partnership with neighbouring councils, can provide grants for low-income households to make homes warmer, more energy efficient and cheaper to run.
Priority Services Register
All energy and gas companies have a priority services register for households in more vulnerable situations. This includes people who are elderly, living with a long term health condition or have a disability. The support available will depend on your supplier and your needs but offers you additional protection, including if energy supplies are disrupted. Contact your supplier to find out more.
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 often 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.
If the information on your bill looks wrong, contact your supplier.
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.
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.
Generating your own energy
The Energy Saving Trust offers advice on generating your own energy.
Solar Together have launched a new group buying scheme that brings households together to get competitive prices on solar panels. If you already have solar panels, the scheme can offer you battery storage to maximise the benefits of your system. Find out more information.