We want to help you make your home warmer, cosier and healthier for the winter months, reduce your fuel bill costs and let you know about grants that can help you.
The Warm Home Discount Scheme
For winter 2016 to 2017, you could get £140 off your electricity bill through the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
The money isn’t paid to you - it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, usually between September and March.
The discount won’t affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.
You qualify for the discount if, on 12 July 2015, all of the following apply:
- your electricity supplier was part of the scheme
- your name (or your partner’s) was on the bill
- you were getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (even if you get Savings Credit as well).
If you don’t qualify
You may be able to apply directly to your electricity supplier for help if you don’t get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit but:
- you’re on a low income
- you get certain means-tested benefits
Check with your supplier to see if you’re eligible and how to apply.
Pre-pay or pay-as-you-go meters
You can also qualify for the discount if you use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter.
Your electricity supplier can tell you how you’ll get the discount if you’re eligible. For example, a voucher you can use to top up your meter.
For more information, you can visit the Warm Home Discount Scheme website or ring 0845 603 9439.
Winter fuel payments
You could get between £100 and £300 tax-free to help pay your heating bills if you were born on or before 5 January 1953. This is known as a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’.
Most payments are made automatically between November and December. So you should get your money by Christmas.
You usually get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you get the State Pension or another social security benefit (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit. If you receive any of these types of benefits please check the website to see if you are eligible to make a claim).
If you qualify but don’t get paid automatically, you’ll need to make a claim here
Additional Cold Weather payments
Cold weather payments can help people who are in receipt of certain benefits with their additional heating costs during winter. A payment will be made for each seven day period of very cold weather between 1 November 2015 and 31 March.
For any advice on the Winter Fuel or Cold Weather Payments, call the helpline on 0845 915 1515 (during office hours) or check online.
Take action if you are having difficulties paying your utility bills
Contact your electricity or gas supplier and tell them of your difficulties. They will then help you set up a payment plan. If you have a fuel debt you may be able to apply for a grant to reduce or clear your arrears.
The British Gas Energy Trust the EDF Energy Trust and NPower Energy Fund all have schemes to help customers who are low income households facing financial difficulty.
You can ring the organisations on 01733 421060.
Scottish Power now has a Hardship Fund to help their customers who are struggling to pay their gas and/or electricity arrears. The Scottish Power hardship fund can be accessed here or they can be contacted on 0808 800 0128.
Top tips on saving energy
- Turn your thermostat down. Reducing your room temperature by 1°C could cut your heating bills by up to 10 per cent. If you have a programmer, set your heating and hot water to come on only when required rather than all the time
- Is your water too hot? Your cylinder thermostat should be set at 60°C/140°F
- 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 a room
- Do not leave appliances on standby and remember not to leave laptops and mobile phones on charge unnecessarily
- If possible, fill up the washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher. One full load uses less energy than two half loads. Where possible use the economy setting
- Only boil as much water as you need (but remember to cover the elements if you're using an electric kettle)
- A dripping hot water tap wastes energy and in one week wastes enough hot water to fill half a bath
- Fix leaking taps and make sure they're fully turned off
- Use energy saving light bulbs - they last up to 10 times longer than ordinary bulbs
- Have cavity wall insulation and/or loft insulation fitted - it will make your home warmer and cosier and save money on your fuel bills
- Defrosting your freezer can increase its energy efficiency. When the ice inside builds up to more than a quarter of an inch thick, this can prevent the door seal from performing correctly and the cold air that your freezer is working hard to generate will escape into your home.
Getting the best energy deal
You can reduce what you pay for your energy in two ways:
1. Pick the cheapest payment methods
In most cases, direct debit is the cheapest way to pay and could save you up to £100 per year on your energy bills.
Your own supplier may also have a cheaper tariff they could offer you, this could include dual fuel offers, meaning you combine your gas and electric with one supplier.
It is always best to contact your own supplier first to see what they could offer you before switching with another supplier.
2. Shop around for the cheapest deal.
If you do decide to change energy suppliers, you may be able to save up to £200 on your annual energy consumption by shopping around for the best energy deals.
Ofgem, the energy regulator, has accredited certain independent price comparison services that have signed up to a 'Confidence Code'. You can view the list on the Ofgem website.
Financial Inclusion and benefits maximisation
There are a number of local and national organisations offering free and impartial financial advice and support, including credit unions, local advice agencies and national advice agencies.
Further financial information can be found on the financial advice pages.
Viridis home energy
You can access a wide range of advice and support through a partnership between Knowsley Council and a number of other local organisations.
Viridis brings together organisations which are committed to working together to reduce the amount of energy people use and cut the amount of money households spend on energy.
You can use the service to access packages of practical and - where funding allows - financial support.
Priority Services Register
If you are a pensioner, have a disability or suffer from a long term health condition, you can access a range of benefits and advice about your energy bills, metering and other help.
You can register with your energy supplier’s Priority Services Register for:
- Password protection for your security
- Moving your prepayment meter or credit meter
- Free meter readings
- Having your bill sent to a friend, relative or carer for them to check for you
- Alternative cooking and heating facilities if your gas supply is disrupted
- Advance notice if your electricity supply needs to be interrupted
- Services for customers with visual or hearing impairments
- Free annual gas safety checks
Call the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99 to register or contact your energy supplier directly.
If you have difficulty hearing you can use their Minicom service on 0800 027 2122.
Health through warmth
If you suffer from a long-term, cold-related illness, you may be able to get help to pay for heating and insulation in your home.
Health through Warmth is an initiative supported by Knowsley Council.
For more information, contact your local ‘Health through Warmth’ co-ordinator on 0151 639 4308 or visit the website.
Affordable Warmth Strategy
Our Affordable Warmth Strategy explains how we are working with our partners to support households in Knowsley which are unable to afford adequate heating.
Knowsley Home Energy Conservation Act 2013 report
You can read our strategy for reducing energy use and carbon emissions in Knowsley here.