It is important to stay warm in the winter.  Indoor temperatures below 18℃ can have harmful effects on your health, regardless of your age. Keep the room that you spend most time in during the day above this temperature.

The information on the following pages contains advice and tips to help you save energy and pay your energy bills.

What happens if your supplier fails?

If your supplier fails, the energy regulator, Ofgem, will automatically switch you to a new supplier, so your energy supply should not be disrupted.  You should take a note of your account balance and meter reading (a photo of the meter display could also be useful) and download online bills and then wait until your new supplier gets in touch with you.  Pre-payment meter customers should still be able to top-up but if you are having problems topping up then the Citizens Advice website has some useful guidance.

Get accurate bills

It is important to take regular meter readings to ensure you are only being charged for the energy you use. Ofgem (the regulators for gas and electricity companies) have a short video explaining how your energy bills are put together.

Support from your energy supplier 

Suppliers can only request that you pay any energy debt back in amounts that are realistic for you. If you are in debt, or worried about your current repayment plan, contact your supplier to agree a realistic and sustainable debt repayment plan. Suppliers are also required to ensure that any debt recovery activities they undertake are proportionate.

If you have a pre-payment meter and are unable to add credit, contact your supplier to discuss options to keep your energy supply running. This may include nominating a third party for credit top ups, having a discretionary fund added to your credit, or being sent a pre-loaded top up card so that your supply is not interrupted.

If you are having problems with your energy supply, contact your energy provider.  If you don’t know who supplies your energy you can check who your energy supplier is on the Ofgem website

Can’t pay your bills?

If you are having trouble paying your bills your first step should be to contact your energy supplier. If you don’t know who supplies your energy you can check who your energy supplier is.

Energy suppliers usually offer special payment plans to help those in debt. They will work with customers to find solutions to payment difficulties but they can only do this if they know there is a problem. 

The energy supplier should work with you to agree a payment plan. Be realistic about what you can reasonably afford to pay. Clearing the debt reduces worry and will allow you more choice of supplier.

Breathing Space, to pay your debt

This is also called the Debt Respite Scheme and relieves pressure from creditors whilst you focus on getting debt advice to deal with your debt.

This scheme is only accessible through debt advisors such as StepChange or the Money Advice Trust.

Alternatively, if an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) certifies that you are receiving mental health crisis treatment, the AMHP’s evidence can be used by a debt adviser to start a Mental Health Breathing Space. Rethink Mental Illness have a useful guide on applying to Mental Health Breathing Space.

Charitable Trust Support

Some energy suppliers provide additional support for their most vulnerable customers. The type of support and contact details for further information are set out below.

Scheme  Contact Details

BES Utilities

For customers who have been with BES for at least 12 months, who have already contacted Business Debtline for independent debt advice and completed a budget sheet (you will be asked to supply a copy of this when applying).

Tel: 0800 197 6026

BES Utilities 


British Gas Energy Trust 

Applications can be made by customers of any supplier who are facing hardship, particularly in relation to fuel debt.

Tel: 01733 421021 

British Gas Energy Trust 


Bulb Energy Fund 

Fund to help Bulb customers who are experiencing financial hardship, have a household income of less than £16,190 gross per year, are in a financially sustainable position moving forward and meet criteria which includes but is not limited to; individuals in receipts of certain benefits, individuals with young children or with certain health issues.

Tel: 01752 982 865

Bulb Energy Fund

EDF Energy Trust 

Any customer of EDF can apply for a grant to clear energy debt and to meet other essential household costs.

Tel: 01733 421021 

Edf Energy Trust

E.ON Energy Fund (also npower, who are now part of E.ON)

Assists low-income customers with heating and insulation measures and energy efficient appliances. 

Tel: 03303 801090 

E.ON Energy Fund

OVO Energy Fund 

Fund to help OVO customers who have fallen behind with their energy payments, fallen into debt and who want to become more financially stable in future.

Tel: 01752 507703

Ovo Energy Fund

Scottish Power Hardship Fund 

Helps low-income customers who are struggling to pay their bills.

Tel: 0808 800 0128 

Scottish Power Hardship Fund

SSE/Southern Electric

Priority Assistance Fund will help around 3,500 vulnerable customers with support worth up to £900 depending on individual circumstances.

Tel: 0800 980 7537

SSE / Southern Electric help                                             

Alternatively, if you are having trouble paying your bills, two independent organisations which can assist you are: 

Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.

National Debtline on 0808 808 4000.

Priority Services Register

Many energy companies maintain a Priority Services Register which is used to provide residents who need it with extra free services, such as help if there is a power cut.

This is usually provided to people who meet the following criteria;

  • are of pensionable age,

  • are disabled or chronically sick,

  • have a long-term medical condition,

  • have a hearing or visual impairment or additional communication needs; or

  • are in a vulnerable situation.

Contact your energy supplier if you think you are eligible for the priority services register. Or, for more information, visit the Ofgem - priority services register website.

Winter Fuel Payment

The Winter Fuel Payment is a payment of between £100 and £300 to help towards your winter heating bills. You will normally qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment if you were born on, or before, 5 October 1954, and are resident in the UK. 

You usually get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you’re eligible. If you’re eligible but don’t get paid automatically, you’ll need to make a claim.

You will need to claim the Winter Fuel Payment if you’ve not had it before and any of the following apply:

  • You don’t get benefits or a State Pension,

  • You only get Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit,

  • You get benefits or a State Pension but live in Switzerland or an European Economic Area country.

You can claim by telephone by calling the Winter Fuel Payment Centre on: 0800 731 0160.

Warm Home Discount Scheme

The Warm Home Discount Scheme (WHDS) offers a one-off payment of £140 towards the energy bills of those who need it most. The scheme opened on 12 October 2020.

Introduced by the Government, the scheme is managed by energy suppliers. The money isn’t paid directly to you, instead it is applied as a one-off discount that’s credited to your energy account, pre-payment card or key, during the winter – providing you qualify for the payment.

You qualify for the discount if on 5 July 2020 all of the following apply to you:

How to apply: You should receive a letter between October and December 2020 telling you how to get the discount if you qualify. The letter may advise you that you need to call a helpline by 26 February 2021 to confirm your details. Your electricity supplier will then apply the discount to your bill by 31 March 2021. Even if you’ve had the Warm Home Discount before, you are still required to re-apply for it again every year.

If you’re on a low income you may be able to apply directly to your electricity supplier for help if you do not get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit but:

How to apply: Your electricity supplier decides who can get the discount, check with your supplier to see if you’re eligible and how to apply. Contact your supplier as early as possible as the number of discounts they can give are limited. Your electricity supplier will apply the discount to your bill by 31 March 2021.

HMRC support 

You may be able to claim tax relief from HMRC for additional household costs if you are required to work from home during the COVID-19 crisis.

Additional costs include things like heating, metered water bills, home contents insurance, business calls or a new broadband connection. This does not include costs that would stay the same whether you were working at home or in an office, such as mortgage interest, rent or council tax.

Sutton Healthy Homes Advice Service

If you're over 65, have a long term health condition such as asthma or diabetes, a disability, or are on a low income, you can benefit from a free home energy assessment. We have commissioned energy saving experts Thinking Works to advise you how to make your home warm and cosy.

They can give you free water and energy saving devices, advise you on how to keep your fuel bills low while staying warm and depending on your circumstances, they may be able to refer you for heating, insulation or boiler repair grants.

For more information, telephone Thinking Works on 0800 118 2327 or email