You may be concerned about your energy bills going up. There are things you can do to reduce the costs, and help available if you’re struggling to pay your energy bill.
Find out what help you can get to pay your energy bills, where you can get support and how to get the best energy deal.
Government help with your energy bills
Help from your energy supplier
Energy grants and other support
Help with your energy bills
Energy Price Guarantee
The government introduced the Energy Price Guarantee to protect households from rising energy costs. It limits how much suppliers can charge for energy. It currently brings a typical household energy bill in Great Britain for dual-fuel gas and electricity down to around £2,500 per year. From July 2023, this limit will be set to £3,000 per year until April 2024. But you may pay more or less than that, depending on how much energy you use.
The discount is applied to your energy bills or prepayment meter rates automatically. You can read more about how this works on Gov.uk.
The Energy Price Guarantee currently replaces Ofgem’s energy price cap. From July, bills will be reduced by whichever is lower - the energy price cap or the Energy Price Guarantee.
Energy Bills Support Scheme
This scheme, which gave a £400 grant to households to help pay for energy bills during winter 2022/23, has now ended for most people. You should have received the grant from your energy supplier. Contact your supplier if you didn’t get it.
If you have a pre-payment meter, you may have received this grant in the form of vouchers. These expire after 90 days. If yours have expired, you can ask for them to be reissued. You must use all vouchers by 30 June 2023.
If you don’t have a contract with an energy supplier
You can usually still get the £400 support, but you need to apply for it - you won’t get it automatically. This may apply to you if you’re in a care home and pay towards your fees, or you live in sheltered housing or a park home, for example. There are different rules if you pay for your energy as part of your rent.
Applications are open until 31 May 2023. Your local council will make a one-off payment to you if your application is successful. For more information about how to apply, visit Gov.uk.
Alternative Fuels Payment
This is a £200 payment on top of the £400 from the Energy Bills Support Scheme. You might qualify if you’re not on the main gas grid and you mainly use fuels other than gas to heat your home (such as coal, heating oil or LPG).
If you don’t have a contract with an electricity supplier, you won’t get this payment automatically - you’ll need to apply for it. Your local council will make the payment to you if your application is successful. For more information, visit Gov.uk.
If you receive a link to apply for this funding, this is a scam. The government are not sending out links or directly asking people to apply for the Energy Bills Support Scheme or Alternative Fuels Payment.
You may be able to get support with energy costs from your local council through:
- the Household Support Fund in England
- the Scottish Welfare Fund in Scotland.
In Wales, you need to contact the Discretionary Assistance Fund.
The help you can get varies, but may include energy saving packs, slow cookers, fuel vouchers or top-ups for prepayment meters, for example.
Make sure you’re claiming all the benefits you’re entitled to, such as the Winter Fuel Payment. Use our benefits calculator to find out what you can claim, or call our free Helpline (0800 319 6789).
From spring 2023 to spring 2024, the government will be making up to five Cost of Living Payments to people who are entitled to certain benefits on the qualifying dates.
Help from your energy supplier
If you’re struggling to pay your bills, contact your supplier. They must help you to work out a solution, such as a payment plan.
You can’t have your energy supply cut off between 1 October and 31 March if you are a pensioner and you live alone or with other pensioners, or if you live with a child under the age of 18. Anyone who is eligible for the Priority Services Register is also protected.
Some energy suppliers offer grants and other financial help to vulnerable customers. You don’t necessarily have to be with that supplier to qualify. Our Extra help with essential costs if you're on a low income factsheet has more details.
Grants and other support
You may be able to get free advice on things like energy saving, how to apply for grants and ways to reduce your bills from organisations such as:
- Charis Grants
- Energy Saving Trust
- Fuel Bank Foundation (if you're on a pre-payment meter)
- LEAP (Local Energy Advice Partnership)
- Warm and Safe Homes (WASH) service
- Gov.Wales (for Wales only)
- Home Energy Scotland (for Scotland only).
You may need a referral from an advice service like Independent Age before you can get support. Contact our Helpline for more information.
You could also ask for help from Green Doctors. They’re trained energy efficiency experts who can visit you at home and talk to you about ways you can save more heat in your home and deal with problems such as mould or damp. They can also help you to access other support, such as emergency heating. Their services are free.
You can find out if you qualify for any other local or national energy grant schemes at Gov.uk or Home Energy Scotland.
Energy saving tips
You could also make savings if you:
- use energy-saving light bulbs and switch off lights when you leave the room
- don’t leave appliances on standby or on charge unnecessarily
- close your curtains and shutters at dusk to keep the heat in
- turn the radiators down, or off, in rooms that you don’t use very often
- draught-proof your windows, doors and loft hatches
- choose energy-efficient appliances.
You can find more tips at Energy Saving Trust and Help for Households.
Smart meters send readings directly to your energy supplier, so you will be charged for the energy you’ve used, rather than an estimated amount. They come with an in-home display, which shows you how much energy you’re using and what it costs in real time.
A smart meter will not necessarily save you money, but it may help you to budget better and manage your energy use. You may also be able get a better tariff. If you need to save money straightaway, it’s best to look into other options, such as checking you’re on the best tariff or if you qualify for any benefits.
Contact your energy supplier to find out more or to ask for a smart meter. They will not charge you to install one. All suppliers must offer smart meters, but you do not have to have one – it’s your choice.
For more information on smart meters, visit Ofgem.
Getting the best deal from your energy supplier
How do I know I’m getting the best deal on my energy?
Different energy deals are known as tariffs and there are many types. The most common are:
- fixed – the price of your energy is fixed for the duration of your contract
- capped – the price may go up or down but it won’t go over a set limit
- standard or variable – the price depends on the market and may go up or down
- dual-fuel – includes both electricity and gas. Some energy suppliers offer a discount if you buy both fuels as a package.
Fixed and capped tariffs are usually the cheapest and can help you to budget better, but there may be a fee if you want to leave the contract early. There is no end date with a standard or variable tariff and no exit fee if you switch.
If you think you’re paying too much for your energy bill, contact your current supplier to make sure you’re on the best tariff for you. They must tell you about their cheapest tariff and how much money you could save.
You may pay less if you pay by direct debit or manage your account online. Check any deals or discounts carefully and consider the service offered by the supplier.
Should I switch?
Good to know
The energy market is currently going through a turbulent time. Because many energy companies are struggling, you won't find as many tariffs as normal. If you don’t find a better tariff than the one you’re on, it’s probably better to wait until deals are available again.
There are three basic steps to switching energy supplier:
- compare your tariff with other deals on offer (see the Compare prices section below)
- choose the best deal
- tell the new supplier you want to switch and they’ll organise the change for you.
It’s a fairly simple process, but it can seem daunting. You need to make sure you have the right information before you begin.
Understand your bill
Before you start, it's helpful to get a clear picture of what you need and what's on offer.
You should check how much energy you use. Your energy supplier must give you personalised information about your bill that explains what tariff you’re on, your energy use and details of any exit fees.
The best way to compare prices and deals is by using price comparison websites. You should check two or three. Some of them have been accredited by Ofgem. Visit MoneyHelper for advice on how to find the best deals.
Be wary of salespeople who offer deals on your doorstep or over the phone. Don’t be pressured into signing anything and take your time to consider any offers. It’s completely fine to say no to an offer.
If you find the deals on offer confusing, you can get help from your local Citizens Advice.
How to switch energy supplier
You can switch online or over the phone. You just tell the new supplier you want to switch and they'll contact your current supplier to organise the change.
- your postcode
- the name of your current supplier
- the name of your current energy tariff and how much you spend
- an up-to-date meter reading
- your bank details if you’re paying by direct debit.
You may also need your Meter Point Access Number (MPAN) and your Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN). You’ll find most of this information on your bill.
There is a 14-day cooling off period in case you change your mind – this starts the day after you’ve registered to switch. If you cancel during this period, you’ll stay with your current supplier. Your switch should happen within five working days after your cooling off period ends. If it does not happen within 15 working days, you should be able to claim £30 compensation from your new supplier.
Some suppliers have signed up to a voluntary list of commitments called the Energy Switch Guarantee, which should make switching easier. Check to see if your supplier has signed up.
Make sure you take a meter reading the day before you switch. You should receive a final bill from your current supplier within six weeks. If they owe you any money, you should get a refund soon after that.
Things to be aware of
If a supplier offers to reduce your direct debit, this doesn’t mean they‘re reducing the amount you pay for your energy. If you use more energy than your direct debit covers, you could end up with a big bill later.
You could lose your Warm Home Discount if you switch to a smaller supplier. Suppliers with more than 150,000 customers are legally obliged to offer this, so check before you switch. You can find a list of suppliers that are part of the discount scheme on Gov.uk.
You might not be able to switch if you:
- rent – check your tenancy agreement to see if you should ask your landlord first
- owe money to your supplier.
Don’t ignore any debt recovery letters. If you’re in debt, get advice. You can still look for a better deal on your energy, which could make it easier to repay what you owe. Citizens Advice has more information about how to switch energy supplier if you’re in debt.
If you need help with paying your energy bills or switching energy suppliers, contact:
- the Citizens Advice consumer helpline if you live in England and Wales
- Energy Advice Scotland.
You can find more information about switching tariff or energy supplier at Ofgem.