Heat your home - managing rising costs

Cost of living logoThe cost of the gas and electricity that we use in our homes is rising, so we’ve pulled together the following information to help.

We also have other information available to help with the cost of living:

What can I do about it?

Emergency support - Flexible Food and Fuel Fund

If you are really struggling for money, have little or no savings to help meet these increasing costs and have a relatively low household income you can apply for grant funding to help with the cost of Food or Fuel. You can apply online using this link Argyll and Bute Flexible Food and Fuel Fund, or call 01700 502784 to make an application. The fund links immediate need for money with longer-term support from welfare benefit and money advice specialists and can really help families struggling to make ends meet.

Financial support

The Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) administer some financial support that may help people pay their energy bills this winter as follows;

  • Winter Fuel Payment is a tax-free amount paid once a year to help with your heating bills. How much you get depends on your circumstances. Winter Fuel Payment is not means-tested. This means whether you can get it and how much you get, is not affected by your income, savings or investments. It will not affect any other benefits you may get. For more information Winter Fuel Payment: Overview - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
  • A new benefit, Winter Heating Payment, has replaced Cold Weather Payment in Scotland from this year. Find out if you’re eligible at Cold Weather Payment is changing for people in Scotland - mygov.scot
  • Some energy suppliers offer a Warm Home Discount Scheme. This is a one-off discount on your energy bill – the money is not paid to you. Check with your energy supplier to see if you're eligible for the Warm Home Discount Scheme and how to apply. Find out more about the Warm Home Discount Scheme at GOV.UK.  
  • Get help with energy bills - mygov.scot  has information about other benefits, grants and loans to help with energy bills.
  • Fuel Direct - For a period of one year from April 1 2022, the DWP has introduced a temporary change to Fuel Direct to protect benefit claimants given unprecedented energy prices. Universal Credit claimants can use their UC Journal to make this request or call 0800 328 5644. Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance and Employment Support Allowance claimants can call 0800 169 0310. For Pension Credit, claimants can call 0800 731 0469. Please visit GOV.UK for more information.

Ask your energy supplier about their Social Tariffs to check you are getting the best deal with them.

Frequently asked questions

What is fuel poverty?

A: Fuel poverty is basically being unable to afford to keep your home adequately heated and is identified by directly relating a households income to fuel costs. The fuel poverty definition is a household that spends more than 10% of its total income on fuel use, which includes heating, hot water, lighting and the use of appliances

My energy supplier has recently increased my direct debit recently and I’m not sure if I can afford it. What can I do?

A – Your energy supplier may have changed your direct debit in advance of the price cap rise on 1 October. The Government has reduced the amount that the price cap is increasing by and your direct debit may now be overestimated meaning that you could be paying too much for your energy. It is advised that you contact your energy supplier to ask them to review your direct debit payment level.

I have an issue with my energy supplier and they are not dealing with it. What can I do?

A – Raise a formal complaint with your supplier. If they do not resolve the complaint within 8 weeks you can escalate your complaint to the Energy Ombudsman service. If you do make a complaint, keep a good record of what you have done and when as the Ombudsman will ask for evidence to support your complaint. To make a complaint follow the instructions here  https://www.ombudsman-services.org/complain-now and https://youtu.be/74q0jkRkD6Q

I have a health condition and use equipment that needs an electricity supply. What if I can’t afford my payment plan?

A – Where there is a threat to life suppliers are expected to take users circumstances into consideration. Ideally the customer should have their payment plans set to take affordability into consideration, this should be enough to cover at least the ongoing usage. Where the ongoing usage costs are unaffordable the supplier should take the exceptional circumstances into consideration. Evidence will be required to substantiate the claim. Customers should access support of a money adviser or energy adviser to laiase with the energy provider if necessary.

Get energy advice

  • You can also get free advice from Home Energy Scotland – by visiting the Home Energy Scotland website to request a call back or call 0808 808 2282 or
  • ALIenergy enquiries@alienergy.org.uk or call 01631 565 183 for energy cost crisis assistance and practical advice to increase resilience to fuel poverty.
  • Ask your energy supplier about their Social Tariffs to check you are getting the best deal with them.

Improve the energy efficiency of your home

  • You might qualify for Insulation - Home Energy Efficiency if your property is in band A to C or dependant on your circumstances or where you live. Home Energy Scotland will carry out an eligibility check and can also assess eligibility for the Warmer Homes Scotland scheme. Visit the Home Energy Scotland website to request a call back.
  • The range of available insulation is as follows;
    • External wall insulation
    • Internal wall insulation
    • Cavity wall insulation
    • Loft insulation
    • Underfloor insulation

Warm spaces

The Argyll and Bute Third Sector Interface has collated a list of local organisations and community groups offering activities during the week in warm spaces throughout Argyll and Bute - Find warm spaces in your area here warmspace locality - Argyll and Bute Third Sector Interface (argylltsi.org).

Tips to save on bills

  • Just switching your devices off at the wall instead of leaving them at stand-by could save you £40 per year! For lots more tips and advice for quick and easy ways to save energy, lower your bills and reduce your carbon footprint, visit the Energy Saving Trust website
  • Switching your energy tariff or supplier could help you save money. Ofgem helps people to get the best deal. Visit the Ofgem website to find out more.
  • The BBC has produced some tips on how to cut your energy bills. For example did you know it costs 6p to cook a baked potato in the microwave for 10 minutes, compared to 51p for cooking it in an oven for 90 minutes? Visit How to cut your energy bills - BBC News

Heat your home - manage rising costs