How to save on your energy bill If you can’t pay your energy bill
Contact your current energy supplier as soon as possible if you are having trouble paying your gas or electricity bills and need help.
Find out whether it can offer you any ways to reduce your bill, such as paying by monthly direct debit or signing up for an online tariff.
If you still can't afford to pay, there are things you can do. Read on to find out more.
Help from energy suppliers
Contact your supplier to explain your situation and offer to pay an amount you can afford.
All energy suppliers follow a code of practice that means they must take certain steps before cutting off your supply. So they won't cut you off if you agree a regular payment plan with them and then keep to it.
Check your energy company’s code of practice to find out its policy on helping vulnerable customers. You can do this by checking the About Us section of your gas or electricity supplier’s website, or by giving the company a ring on one of these specialist phone numbers:
- Eon Caring Energy Team, 0345 301 5882 (option one)
- EDF Priority Service Register, 0800 269 450
- SSE Careline, 0800 622 838
- Scottish Power Carefree Response, 0800 027 0072 (from landlines) or 0345 270 0700 (from mobiles)
- Npower Warm Response Service, 0808 172 6999
- British Gas Priority Service Register, 0800 072 8625
Energy suppliers should be willing to set up a payment plan for debt that suits you, even if you have been threatened with disconnection. Debt can be repaid through a variety of means including:
- Fuel Direct - a scheme where energy payments are made direct from state benefits (more information below)
- prepayment meter - but usually you end up paying far more for energy, so ask about other options first
- British Gas, EDF, Eon and Npower have set up independent charitable trusts to give grants to some customers to help them pay for fuel arrears.
You should also start taking steps to reduce the amount of energy you use, which will cut what you have to pay on future bills. See our tips for using less electricity.
Energy bill problems
Inaccurate and erratic billing can cause people to inadvertently run up debts. For example, if you receive a large bill but it’s the first bill you’ve had for some time, contact your supplier.
It should be able to arrange repayment of the debt over the same period in which it accrued - so if you haven’t had a bill for 12 months, you could get 12 months to repay.
Benefits and schemes to help with energy bills
If you get Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Pension Credits or Employment and Support Allowance and are struggling to keep up with fuel or water bills, you can ask your benefits office to pay them directly out of your benefits. Fuel Direct payments pay for your current energy use and an agreed amount of your unpaid bill each week. Check your meter reading and then contact your local benefit office.
Winter Fuel Payment
Most people aged 63 or over can get a Winter Fuel Payment to help them pay for gas or electric heating in winter. This annual tax-free lump sum is normally paid from November and most payments are made by Christmas.
Depending on your age and circumstances, you could get between £100 and £300.
Warm Home Discount
For 2014-2015, this is worth £140 off your bill and applies to two groups:
- a core group - households that get the guarantee element of Pension Credit. Most of these households will be automatically identified by energy suppliers
- a 'broader group' - the definition of these vary from supplier to supplier.
See our guide to the Warm Home Discount for full details of the eligibility criteria set by different energy suppliers.
Depending on your personal and financial situation, you could be eligible for benefits to help you keep up with your bills and household expenses. Check whether you qualify for financial help through the benefits system using the DirectGov website.
It's also worth exploring whether you're eligible for a boiler grant from the government, or even a free boiler. To find out more, go to can you get a free boiler?
More help with energy bills
- If you find yourself getting into debt trying to keep up with household bills, see our how to deal with debt guide for practical advice.
- The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can also give you free, independent advice on dealing with debt.
- For advice and help with your heating bills, you can also contact the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 336699.
- National Debtline (0808 808 4000) offers free advice over the phone to people in England, Scotland and Wales.