Managing your energy bills

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Your household energy bill is made up of a number of elements. The largest proportion of your bill is made up of wholesale energy and supply costs, which are forecasted to increase in the future. You can minimise how much you pay for your energy by ensuring you are on the best tariff for your needs and if you meet certain criteria, you may be eligible to receive financial support from the Government or your energy supplier.

Get the benefits you are entitled to

Older people checking bills

The benefits system is complex so it's a good idea to get some help to make sure you are the benefits you are entitled to. You may wish to make an appointment to speak to Citizens Advice St Albans.

If you were born on or before 5th January 1953, you are eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment, to help pay your heating bills. This tax-free payment (of between £100-£300) is usually paid between November and December. You can find out more by phoning the Department for Work & Pensions helpline, on 0845 915 1515 or emailing them here.

If you receive certain benefits, you are eligible to receive a Cold Weather Payment if the temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below for 7 consecutive days. The payment is £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March. If you are eligible, you should be paid automatically. If you think are eligible but don't receive your payment, you should contact your pension centre or Job Centre Plus.

Switching energy supplier

Shopping around for the best deal can help save you money on your energy bills, and switching tariff or energy supplier is easier than you may think. Don't forget to switch every 2 years.

  • Ofgem, the UK's energy regulator, has recently made it easier to review and change the deal you are on. Visit Ofgem's Be An Energy Shopper website to find the best deal for you.
  • Citizens Advice St Albans can help you find the cheapest tariff and even have their own electronic price comparison service. 
  • Which? provide a good range of information and advice on finding the best tariffs.

Collective Energy Switching

Cold person

Hertfordshire County Council has joined a collective energy switching scheme with other Councils from across the UK. The scheme enables households to secure cheaper energy bills, by collectively negotiating buy energy in bulk. The scheme works as a reverse auction, where energy suppliers are invited to bid the lowest price in successive rounds. In previous rounds, duel-fuel households saved an average of £140 per year, with some achieving a saving of £300 per year. To register your interest in the next round, please visit the Ready to Switch website.

If you heat your home with oil you could save money by joining a bulk buying group. You can find out more by visiting the Community Development Agency for Hertfordshire (CDA Herts) website.

Help from your energy supplier

You could be eligible for a one off discount on your electricity bills from your supplier, under the Government's Warm Home Discount (WHD). Most energy suppliers offer assistance to households on means-tested benefits or with children under the age of five, but it's checking with yours directly whether you're eligible.

If you are a pensioner, have a disability or a long-term health condition, you can sign up to your energy supplier’s Priority Services Register (PSR), to get extra help and support with your energy supply. Benefits of the scheme include:

  • Protection from bogus callers through a password protection scheme
  • Regular meter readings
  • Special communication services for those with hearing and visual impairments 
  • Bill nominee scheme
  • Advance notice of supply interruption (important if you rely on medical equipment or a stair lift)
  • Priority services in an emergency 
  • Annual gas safety check

You should contact your energy supplier directly, to see if you are eligible to sign up for the PSR. If you have different suppliers for gas and electricity, you’ll need to contact them both.

Can't pay your bills?

There are a number of sources of help you can turn to if you are having trouble paying your energy bills:.

  • Your energy supplier is obligated to help you find a manageable way to pay for your bills or any debt that has accrued. You should contact them in the first instance
  • Citizens Advice consumer helpline can be contacted on 08454 04 05 06

  • The Consumer Focus Fact-Sheet below advises what to do when it is difficult to pay your energy bill 

Date of last review: 29 November 2016