11 energy freebies available right now to help low-income families cut bills this winter

Last modified on Thursday 5 October 2023

Woman wrapped in blanket / smart meter

Struggling households can get free electric blankets, shower heads and even money off their bills

From the Household Support Fund to all the energy-related switches you can make in your home, there's a lot of tips and advice (as well as financial help) out there for families.

But it's often hard to know just where to start – as well as how to go about finding the help and working out what you are and aren't eligible for.

And, even though energy bills decreased by £151 for the average family on 1 October, it's still a struggle for many to be able to pay the bills at times.

But, there are many freebies families can apply for towards their energy bills and more – and they're all listed below.

1. Energy grants

Most energy companies have a discretionary grant that's available to help their most vulnerable customers.

And, while what you may get depends on your own financial circumstances, some grants are worth up to £1,500 – which could mean a HUGE help to struggling families.

Examples of grants include the British Gas Energy Support Fund, which offers money to help customers clear gas and electricity debt, but Scottish Power also offer a similar scheme through its Hardship Fund.

EDF, E.ON and Octopus Energy also offer similar grants.

2. Household Support Fund

The next round of the Household Support Fund is coming soon, with one council in England set to give out £350 in cash.

The Household Support Fund is a scheme set up by the Government to allocate specific amounts of money to local councils, who can then decide how they help families in their area.

The money is set out for families struggling with cost of living expenses and your local council should tell you how you can get it.

While some councils have given out cash, others have given energy-saving packs including thermal blankets and air fryers to help save on heating bills.

You can see a full list here of the support available, broken down by area.

3. Free electric blankets

As well as offering grants to low-income families, energy supplier Octopus is also giving out free electric blankets to some of its customers.

Only available to those who'll benefit the most from them, eg the elderly, and those with mobility issues or other medical conditions that mean they're more impacted by the cold, eligible applicants should contact Octopus for further information.

4. Free boiler

Fancy getting your hands on a fancy new boiler, free of charge? Some suppliers are offering a boiler for customers on a low income or those who are considered vulnerable.

Eligibility varies but British Gas, EDF Energy, Scottish Power, and Ovo Energy all offer versions of this support.

You'll need to contact your energy supplier via phone to find out if you can get a new boiler.

5. Free solar panels

Many councils in the UK will give out money to help households make eco-friendly improvements to their home.

If you meet the eligibility criteria, you'll be able to have your home fitted with things including solar panels, which would otherwise cost you around £6,000.

And these measures could save you hundreds on your energy bills.

Usually, households will need to be earning a total household income of less than £30,000 and your home must also have an EPC rating of D, E, F or G for you to be eligible too.

6. Free energy-efficient shower head

Water companies are also giving out incentives to struggling customers, in the form of energy-saving gadgets such as shower heads.

The Energy Saving Trust says that switching to a water-efficient shower head will reduce your hot water usage AND could save a family of 4 a total of £195 on their water and energy bills – because less energy will be used to pump, heat and treat the water.

Visit the Save Money Save Water website to fill in a short survey and see if you're eligible for the energy-saving devices.

However, not all water companies offer these freebies.

7. Winter fuel payment

Anyone eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment will soon receive their £300 payment from the Government.

The payment – which is intended to help people pay their heating bills – is paid out to anyone of state pension age. That is someone born before September 25, 1957.

For some lower-income households, the sum paid will also include a ‘Pensioner Cost of Living Payment’, which is between £150 and £300.

Meaning anyone eligible for both payments could get up to £600.

In most cases, you won't have to apply and you should get the money automatically from November.

Eligibility for the extra £150-£300 depends on what benefits you claim, which you can find out more about here.

8. Cold weather payment

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) offers lower-income households an extra cash boost in the form of cold weather payments during the coldest times of the year.

The payments – worth £25 – are given to eligible households when temperatures reach below zero degrees.

If eligible, households will get £25 for every 7-day period of cold weather.

The scheme runs between 1 November and 31 March and payments will be given out automatically, so there's no need to apply.

But to get it, you must be in receipt of one of the following benefits:

  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Income Support
  • income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • income-related employment and support allowance
  • Support for mortgage interest

You'll also have to meet other criteria too, which includes:

  • Having a disability or be in receipt of pension premium
  • Having a child who is disabled
  • Receiving child tax credit that includes a disability or severe disability element
  • Having a severe or enhanced disability premium
  • Being in receipt of a limited capability for work amount
  • Having a child under five living with you

9. Child winter heating payment

Formerly known as the child winter heating assistance, the child winter heating payment is to be paid to thousands of families from November.

The cash boost is worth £235.70 and issued to families to cover the cost of higher energy bills in the winter months.

But it's only available to households in Scotland.

Around 26,000 payments were made during winter 2022-2023, and eligible applicants must be over the age of 18.

Applicants will also need to be in receipt of one of the following benefits:

  • the highest rate of the care component of Child Disability Payment
  • the highest rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance for children
  • the enhanced daily living component of Personal Independence Payment
  • the enhanced rate of the daily living component of Adult Disability Payment

Anyone who thinks they may be eligible can apply by filling in a paper form found on the Scottish Government's website.

10. Winter heating payment

The winter heating payment is another payment only available for households in Scotland – and it's replaced the cold weather payment there.

Eligibility is the same as for the cold weather payment (see number 8) but the only difference is that the winter heating payment – which is worth £55.05 – is given to you regardless of whether or not the temperature drops.

Payments are likely to be made in February and March 2024.

11. Warm home discount

Households in England, Scotland and Wales can get £150 off their energy bills via the warm home discount scheme.

The scheme, which reopens this month, is a one-off payment made directly to your electricity energy suppliers by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Those who are eligible will receive a letter before January 2024 explaining the details of the discount.

You'll need to claim one of the following benefits to apply:

  • Income support
  • Income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • Income-related employment and support allowance
  • Housing benefit
  • Universal Credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Working tax credits
  • Pension credit guaranteed
  • Pension credit savings credit

if you're eligible, you should get the discount between late October 2023 and March 2024.

Find out more about the scheme here.

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