Not everyone knows this, but switching to a cheaper supplier is one of the best ways to save money this winter. The latest figures show that millions of people could save over £200 or more by moving to a different supplier.
In fact, only an expected 4 million people switched in 2017, so there are a lot of households still to make some savings – and it’s very easy with MoneySuperMarket’s energy comparison pages.
That said, it’s also a good idea to find out if you are entitled to any help towards the cost of energy bills.
There’s also the Warm Home Discount Scheme, which could knock £140 off your electricity bill during the colder months in the 2017 to 2018 winter.
The government introduced the warm home discount in 2011 and the scheme was to run for five years. However, then Chancellor George Osborn continued the scheme until 2021, and the government recently stated that they may extend the scheme to cover even more people in the future.
Eligibility for the discount
The discount is not available to everyone – and there’s a ‘Core’ group and a ‘Broader’ group.
This Core group is made up of pensioners, and you qualify for the discount if:
- On 9 July 2017 your electricity supplier was part of the scheme.
- Your name (or your partner’s) was on the bill.
- You were getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (even if you were getting the Savings Credit as well).
The money is usually paid between October and March in the form of a one-off discount on your electricity bill.
In other words, you don’t get the cash directly. If you use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter, your supplier will tell you how you get the discount. For example, you might be given a voucher to top up your meter.
Energy companies also offer the discount to a ‘Broader’ group of vulnerable customers.
The government issues guidelines on the eligibility criteria and you would normally only qualify if you get certain means-tested benefits, such as income support or universal credit, or your household income is below £16,190.
However, different suppliers have different criteria, so you should check with the company that provides your electricity. For example, British Gas gives the discount if you spend 10% or more of your household income on energy bills to heat the property.
Companies with fewer than 250,000 customers do not have to offer the warm home discount to either the core or the broader group. However, most of the well-known firms are part of the scheme.
Customers who fall into the broader group must apply directly to their electricity supplier for the discount.
The full list of electricity companies is as follows:
GB Energy - see Co-operative energy
Manweb - see ScottishPower
Sainsbury’s Energy - see British Gas
Scottish Gas - see British Gas
Scottish Hydro - see SSE
Southern Electric - see SSE
SWALEC - see SSE
If you want to switch to a different supplier, it’s worth bearing in mind that the new firm might not offer the warm home discount. Or, the eligibility criteria for the broader group could be different.
However, the saving you make from switching could outweigh the loss of the discount, so you shouldn’t rule out switching completely – as the discrepancy between lowest price and highest tariff with some companies can be around £250.
How to apply
Customers who are eligible for the warm home discount in the Core group do not usually need to apply. But they should receive a letter by 24th of December each year, which will explain the discount and any application procedure.
If you don’t get a letter and believe you qualify, you should contact:
Warm Home Discount Scheme
Telephone: 0345 603 9439
Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm
Find out about call charges
Warm Home Discount Team
Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.