It may still be only August, but the end of the summer is a good time to start thinking about your winter energy bills. Switching to a cheaper provider before the weather changes and you need to turn your heating on is a smart move (you can run an energy comparison to find the best energy deals in your area).
But if you're worried about paying your gas and electricity bills this winter - or you know someone who is - there’s also another way to get help: the Warm Home Discount.
- Reduce your energy bills: see the cheapest tariffs in your area now
What is the Warm Home Discount?
The Warm Home Discount is an annual scheme that's designed to help households that struggle with their energy bills in the winter months. This includes people who are on certain state benefits, and people who may be classed as vulnerable, such as pensioners.
Even if you don't automatically qualify, you can still apply for the discount based on your circumstances. Most of the best energy suppliers have signed up to the scheme. But it's offered on a first come, first served basis, so you'll need to be quick.
Successful applicants are presented with a one-off £140 discount on their energy bills. However, rather than being paid directly to the applicant, the money is automatically deducted from their energy bills over the winter months (September to March). This means the payment will be made as a rebate or refund by April 2021. Crucially, applying for the Warm Home Discount will not affect anyone's Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.
How do I know if I qualify for the Warm Home Discount?
You’ll qualify for the Warm Home Discount if you:
- Are on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme - known as the 'Broader group'
- Get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit - known as the 'Core group'
If you’re in the Core group, you’ll receive a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that tells you about your eligibility. You’ll need to read this letter carefully though, as it may explain that you need to provide further information.
If you don’t qualify for the Core group, then you may qualify for the Broader group. How the Broader group is defined varies from provider to provider, but you’ll usually be eligible if you’re in receipt of the Savings or Guarantee and Savings element of the State Pension Credit, or a means-tested benefit like Universal Credit.
Alternatively, you’ll also qualify if you're a customer with a gross annual household income of less than £16,190 and you spend 10 per cent or more of household income on energy bills. Similarly, you may also qualify if you have a gross annual household income of less than £16,190 and the account holder is living with mental or physical disability or illness.
Many providers offer a very strict and limited first come, first served window for applicants from the Broader group. So, if you believe you’re eligible - or know someone who is - you should look to apply as soon as possible. Just remember to check your provider's qualifying criteria correctly.
Which energy suppliers are offering the Warm Home Discount and when?
- British Gas - Applications for 2020/21 are now open
- EDF - Applications for 2020/21 will open in early September but you can register your interest now
- Eon - Applications for 2020/21 are now open
- Npower - Applications for 2020/21 are now open
- Scottish Power - Applications for 2020/21 are now open
- SSE (owned by OVO Energy) - Applications for 2020/21 will open later in the year but you can register your interest now
- Bulb Energy - Applications for 2020/21 will open later in the year but you can register your interest now
- Octopus Energy - Applications for 2020/21 will open later in the year but you can register your interest now. (Read our Octopus Energy review for more info.)
- Shell Energy - Applications for 2020/21 will open later in the year
- OVO - Applications for 2020/21 will open later in the year but you can register your interest now
- Utilita - Applications for 2020/21 are now open
Make an even bigger saving on your energy bills by switching provider
Whether you qualify for the Warm Home Discount or not, the best way to save money on your energy bills is to make sure you’re on the best energy deal possible.
If you were on a fixed-term energy deal that's expired, your provider will have placed you on a standard variable tariff. That means you’re likely to be paying much more for your energy bills than if you were to switch provider or take out a new deal.
The easiest way to find out how much money you could save by switching is to run an online energy price comparison. By providing some basic information about your household and energy use, you’ll be able to see the best tariffs in your area and how much money you could save by switching to each.
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Tom is a freelance copywriter and content marketer with over seven years' experience. Originally from an agency background, he is proud to have worked on campaigns for a number of energy providers, comparison sites and consumer brands.