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.

You can download a detailed guidance document, Help with Bills (PDF) from Ofgem. Ofgem are the regulators for gas and electricity companies. This guidance was produced in August 2022 by:

  • the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
  • Citizens Advice
  • Energy UK, and
  • Ofgem, the energy regulator

What you can do if your supplier fails

If your supplier fails, Ofgem will automatically switch you to a new supplier. Your energy supply should not be disrupted. 

You should:

  • take a note of your account balance
  • take a note of you meter reading (a photo of the meter display could also be useful)
  • 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. If you're having problems topping up, visit the Citizens Advice website.

Get accurate bills

It is important to take regular meter readings to ensure you are only being charged for the energy you use. Watch Ofgem's 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're in debt, or worried about your current repayment plan

You can contact your supplier to agree a realistic and sustainable debt repayment plan. Suppliers are 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

If you can’t pay your bills

If you're 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'll work with you to find a solution to your 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:

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.

BES Utilities

For customers who have:

  • been with BES for at least 12 months
  • 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

Visit the BES Utilities website 

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 

Visit the British Gas Energy Trust website

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

Read about the Bulb Energy Fund on the Citizens Advice website

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 

Visit the EDF Energy Trust website

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 

Visit the E.ON Energy Fund website 

OVO Energy Fund 

Fund to help OVO customers who:

  • have fallen behind with their energy payments
  • have fallen into debt, and
  • who want to become more financially stable in future

Tel: 01752 507703

Visit the Ovo Energy Fund website

Scottish Power Hardship Fund 

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

Tel: 0808 800 0128 

Read about the Scottish Power Hardship Fund online

SSE/Southern Electric

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

Tel: 0800 980 7537

Read about SSE / Southern Electric help online

If you are having trouble paying your bills

There are two independent organisations that can assist: 

  • 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. This 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. You can get more information by visiting 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 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. It's 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. This applies if you don't get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit but:

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 doesn't 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

You can benefit from a free home energy assessment if you're:

  • over 65
  • have a long term health condition such as asthma or diabetes
  • a disability, or
  • are on a low income

We have commissioned energy saving expertsThinking Works to advise you how to make your home warm and cosy.

They can give you:

  • free water and energy saving devices
  • advice 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

Contact ThinkingWorks by: