Advice and tips to help you keep warm and pay your energy bills.

It is important to keep the room that you spend most time in during the day above 18℃ because lower temperatures can have harmful effects on your health.

We've put together advice and tips to help you keep warm and pay your energy bills, and where you can go if you're finding it difficult to do that.

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

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.

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 suppliers.

Visit the Ofgem website for information if you cannot afford your energy bills.

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.   

Find out more about Breathing Space on the Mental Health and Money Advice website.

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 all the following:

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

You can visit the BES Utilities website or call 0800 197 6026.

British Gas Energy Trust

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

You can visit the British Gas Energy Trust website or call 01733 421 021.

EDF Energy Trust

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

You can visit the EDF Energy Trust website or call 01733 421 021.

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.

You can visit the E.ON Energy Fund website or call 03303 801 090.

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.

You can visit the Ovo Energy Fund website or call 01752 507 703.

Scottish Power Hardship Fund

Helps low-income customers who are struggling to pay their bills. Call 0808 800 0128.

SSE or Southern Electric

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

You can read about SSE or Southern Electric help online or call 0800 980 7537.

Independent Advice

If you are having trouble paying your bills, there are two independent organisations that can assist:

  • call Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133
  • call 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:

  • 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
  • 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

Find out more on the Winter Fuel Payment website.

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 towards the energy bills of those who need it most. Although it is a government scheme, it is managed by energy suppliers. The money is applied as a one-off discount that is credited to your energy account, pre-payment card or key. The government usually decides on qualifying criteria by October every year.

Find out more about the Warm Home Discount Scheme.

How to apply

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

Sutton Healthy Homes Advice Service

We have commissioned energy saving experts Thinking Works to advise you on how to make your home warm.  You can benefit from a free home energy assessment if you:

  • are over 65
  • have a long term health condition such as asthma, COPD or diabetes
  • have children under the age of 5, or are pregnant
  • are living with a mental health condition
  • have a disability
  • are on a low income

Thinking Works can give you:

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

Contact Thinking Works by calling 0800 118 2327 or emailing enquiries@thinkingworks.co.uk.

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