Warm Home Discount
Article 3 of 8
Warm Home Discount
If you're struggling to pay your energy bills, the Warm Home Discount might be able to help. Find out if you qualify for the Warm Home Discount.
The Warm Home Discount is an annual £140 payment to help those struggling to pay their energy bills.
Read on to find out whether you're eligible to receive the Warm Home Discount and what you need to do to apply.
In June 2018, the government announced changes to which suppliers must offer the Warm Home Discount. Find out about the changes.
Who gets the Warm Home Discount?
The Warm Home Discount is a compulsory scheme for the large energy companies and is an annual credit they place in the account of those who are eligible. Some small energy suppliers also offer it.
During winter 2017/2018, the payment is £140. While this is a welcome saving, you should also make sure you are on the cheapest energy tariff for your home.
The Warm Home Discount applies to two distinct groups:
- The core group: if you receive the Guarantee Credit Element of Pension Credit, you're in this group. In most cases, your energy supplier will identify you automatically and you won't need to apply for it.
- The broader group: customers in vulnerable groups. If you're on a low income or you get certain means-tested benefits you might qualify in this group. Each supplier has its own eligibility criteria, which are approved by the regulator Ofgem.
If you're on a standard tariff with one of the Big Six energy companies, you could save hundreds of pounds by switching. Check with our independent comparison site, Which? Switch, to find the cheapest energy deal for you.
Is the Warm Home Discount only for pensioners?
No. Energy companies pay the Warm Home Discount to a broader group of people who struggle to pay energy bills. Gas and electricity suppliers have a degree of discretion over which of their customers make up the broader group and how many to help, based on their market share.
The participating suppliers have had their own eligibility criteria approved by Ofgem and have a limit on the number of customers who can benefit. Consumers who may be eligible could include those on low income with a disability, long-term illness, with young children or in receipt of certain means-tested benefits.
The actual criteria used will vary as they depend on which electricity supplier you are with. See the government's Warm Home Discount guidance for eligibility criteria for different suppliers.
Who offers the Warm Home Discount?
Only suppliers with more than 250,000 customers are legally obliged to offer the discount. These are:
Atlantic, British Gas, Co-operative Energy, Economy Energy, EDF Energy, Eon, Extra Energy, First Utility, Flow Energy, M&S Energy, Npower, OVO Energy, Sainsbury's Energy, Scottish Gas, Scottish Hydro, Scottish Power, Southern Electric, Spark Energy, SSE, Utilita and Utility Warehouse.
You can find out more about these energy suppliers, including what their customers really think of them - see the best and worst energy companies.
Some smaller suppliers also offer the discount. These are:
Bristol Energy, Fischer Energy and Our Power. If your supplier isn't listed, check with it whether it offers the Warm Home Discount.
More smaller energy suppliers must start to pay eligible customers the Warm Home Discount, the government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced.
From winter 2019/20, energy suppliers with 200,000 or more customers must provide the £140 payment to those customers who are eligible (see eligibility criteria above).
From winter 2020/21, energy suppliers with at least 150,000 customers must participate in the scheme also.
This will mean that 30,000 extra pensioners will receive the Warm Home Discount, compared with present figures, according to the government.
But it admitted that it didn’t expect the overall number of people on low incomes or in vulnerable situations receiving the Warm Home Discount to increase.
It plans to review the scheme again in 2021 when the customer threshold for providing it ‘could continue to fall, potentially to zero’ BEIS said.
How to apply for the Warm Home Discount
Households in the core group should automatically receive the discount on their energy bill without having to take any action. You should get a letter confirming this, or telling you how to apply, if necessary. You should receive this letter by 30 November 2017. All payments are usually made during the winter months (by the end of March 2018, at the latest).
If you think you qualify in the core group but don't get a letter, contact the government's Warm Home Discount team on 0345 603 9439 (Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm).
Customers in the broader group will have to apply to their energy supplier - check with your energy supplier to find out its eligibility criteria. People with pay-as-you-go meters can also qualify for the discount.
The Warm Home Discount will be applied to your electricity account. So if you receive gas and electricity from different suppliers, you should contact your electricity provider to register. But if you get your gas and electricity from the same supplier, you can ask it to credit your gas account instead.
What if I switch energy supplier?
If you switch away from a larger supplier that offers the Warm Home Discount to a smaller supplier that doesn't, you'll lose your Warm Home Discount.
But some of the smaller suppliers could be cheaper for you overall, even when taking into account the value of the Warm Home Discount. So it's worth checking whether you will be better off.
An independent comparison site, such as our own Which? Switch, will show you how much you could save by switching away from your current supplier and tariff. Check if you're on the cheapest energy deal.
If you qualify for the Warm Home Discount under the broader group with your current supplier and want to switch to another supplier, check first that you would still qualify under the criteria of your new supplier's broader group.
Again, take into consideration whether you could be better off by switching even if you were to lose the Warm Home Discount.
Where can I find out more?
More information on the Warm Home Discount is available from the government's website at GOV.UK.