Energy Financial Support

Energy Financial Support

Households that are struggling with their energy use and costs should know that there is help and financial support available.

Across the United Kingdom, there are numerous sources of support to overcome fuel poverty or its related issues. If you would like to know more about what constitutes “fuel poverty”, a lookthrough our previous article “What is Fuel Poverty and how can it be alleviated?” might prove quite helpful.

Warm Home Discount Scheme

    The Warm Home Discount Scheme (WHD) is funded by the energy suppliers. It provides direct and indirect financial support to vulnerable energy consumers.
    The WHD scheme separates eligible households into two groups – the ‘Core’ group and the ‘Broader’ group.

    Support under the Core Group is targeted at older, poorer pensioner households. A householder qualifies for the Core Group discount if on a specific day (to be confirmed) all of the following apply:

    • their supplier was part of the scheme.
    • their name (or their partner’s) was on the statement on a specified day in July.
    • they were getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (even if they get Savings Credit as well).
    • Discount is £140.

    Households who feel they may qualify for the WHD under their supplier’s Broader Group should submit an application directly to their supplier. Each company has its own set of qualifying conditions.

    A link to the individual suppliers’ websites and their qualifying criteria can be found at: www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme/eligibility.

    Financial Assistance and grants available for those who suffer from Fuel Poverty

    Trusts and Grants

      Most of the energy suppliers offer a range of grants for their most vulnerable customers (subject to meeting certain criteria).

      • British Gas (British Gas Energy Trust) – Payments for household bills/ energy arrears.
      • EDF Energy (EDF Energy Customer Support Fund) – Payments for household bills/ energy arrears or essential appliances.
      • E.ON (Energy Fund) – Will provide payments for household bills/ energy arrears, essential appliances and repairs to or replacement boilers.
      • npower (Energy Fund) – Provides financial assistance to individuals and organisations.
      • SSE Priority Assistance Fund – supports those who in or at risk of fuel poverty. Website includes information on support services.
      • ScottishPower Hardship Fund – Provides help to customers having difficulty paying their bills due to low income. Electricity and gas arrears can be cleared or reduced by a credit from the fund to the customer’s account.
      • Let’s Talk Energy Fund – Open to everybody regardless of energy supplier. It offers debt relief, boilers and white goods.
      • Charis Grants – facilitates charitable and corporate giving by designing, developing and managing a range of services in support of vulnerable members of society. Website: www.charisgrants.com/
      • Priority Services Register (PSR) – The Priority Services Register is a free service provided by fuel suppliers and network operators for vulnerable customers. Each energy supplier and network operator maintains its own register and will need you to contact them directly. 
      April heralds changes for energy bills

      April heralds changes for energy bills

      You might be wondering why you paying more for your energy?
      Simple answer: The energy price cap increased. On the first of April this year the energy price cap increased by 54%. What is a price cap?

      12 Tips To Reduce Overall Energy Consumption

      12 Tips To Reduce Overall Energy Consumption

      Reducing energy consumption little by little can save you a lot of money each and every year.

      There are many tips and tricks that homeowners can use to conserve energy expenditure.

      When in the kitchen…

      • Boil the water using the kettle or by covering the pan with a lid – the water will boil faster, saving less time and energy.
      • You can turn the heat off earlier when boiling an egg and let the residual heat finish cooking the egg.
      • Plan ahead when thinking about cooking something that is frozen – give the frozen food enough time to defrost, otherwise you will have to consume energy using a microwave or an oven.
      • Warm the kitchen area with residual heat from the oven – once you have used the oven for cooking, you can keep the oven door oven to provide extra heat in the kitchen (be considerate of the pets and children!).
      • Have your fridge placed away from a heat source or direct sunlight and don’t keep your fridge colder that it would typically need to be. As a point of reference, your fridge should be set at 3°C, whilst your freezer should be set at -18°C
      • Remember to also defrost both the fridge and freezer quite regularly, as the more ice will build up, the harder the fridge and freezer will have to work, thus consuming more energy.
      Home Energy Smart meter in the kitchen measuring temperature

      Energy saving habits throughout your home

      • After washing clothes and other textiles, using natural outdoor drying methods can also save money and electricity on buying driers, using the washing machine to dry or relying on radiator heat.
      • Another great way to conserve energy is to turn down your thermostat. With only one degree lower can save you around £80 per year.
      • Take more showers and less baths. According to the Energy Saving Trust, if everyone in a family of 4 swapped one bath a week for a 5-minute shower, they’d would reduce electricity and gas costs by £20 per year.
      • Spend less time in the shower. With just one minute less under the shower each day could shave £7 per year off your bills3. In a 4 person household, that’s £28 per year.
      • If you have a garage, ensure doors are closed and insulated the entire time.
      • Keep curtains and blinds open during the day, to let in the warmth of the sun. Then close them at night, to keep the heat in and the cold out.

      Be in control of your heating to conserve energy

      Unknown to most, nearly two-thirds of the energy used in UK homes goes on heating – which accounts for half of our bills. By adding water and heating together, it rises to two-thirds of our average costs.

      Many households, for example, will run their heating systems not taking into account of each room’s temperature requirements. By using your heating contols efficiently, you could potentially save a lot of money. We tend to think of our heating bills in terms of fuel costs – but what we’re really paying for is heat loss.

      The lower the heat loss, the lower the energy use. In this aspect insulation and other heating saving methods, could be considered.

      April heralds changes for energy bills

      April heralds changes for energy bills

      You might be wondering why you paying more for your energy?
      Simple answer: The energy price cap increased. On the first of April this year the energy price cap increased by 54%. What is a price cap?

      How to be more Energy Efficient

      How to be more Energy Efficient

      It is very likely that your home may be losing heat and energy without you noticing.

      Buildings typically lose heat through windows, floor gaps, roofs and walls, as heat energy is transferred through them by conduction. Cold air for instance, usually enters the house through the gaps, doorways and windows, produce convection currents and push the heat towards the roof tiles and windows.

      An general estimate of over 25% from the heat produced by your boiler will most likely escape through the roof at fast rates, without the opportunity to settle and warm the property as it would be expected to.

      Furthermore, over 35% of the heat will escape through walls and gaps, in and around windows and doors, and nearly 10% of heat will disappear through the floor.

      Altogether, the roof, walls, windows, doors and the floor are known as the thermal envelope.

      If you can slow this movement of heat from inside the house, through the thermal envelope, to the external environment, you can significantly reduce your energy costs.

       

      Saving on Heat Expenses by reducing Heat Loss

      If heat loss can be reduced, your consumption of fuel will also decrease, resulting in savings for your household.

      This is also helpful from an environmental perspective, as there will be less carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, therefore supporting the reduction of greenhouse gases associated with climate change.

      There are various ways to reduce heat loss and save energy:

      Man insulating a wall within a home.

      The most simplistic methods can involve using fitting carpets, curtains and draught excluders. Fitting reflective foil within, or on the walls, can also be a cost-effective and very useful method.

      Heat loss through walls can be reduced by double glazing or insulated glazing – windows with two panes of glass that help minimising heat release as well as serve with outside noise reduction.

      Heat Loss through walls can be reduced using cavity wall insulation – and insulating material which is placed into the gaps between the brick and inside wall. This will reduce convection on the outside of the home.

      Loft insulation in the roof space is considered the best approach for energy efficiency in the home – being really cheap, easy to do and the payback can be reached within two years.

      Walls typically come in two forms – solid and cavity walls.

      Properties built prior to 1930 will generally have solid walls, whilst some houses built after this period are likely to have some form of cavity in the walls. Cavity walls are very easy to insulate – they can be injected with insulating material, which slows the movement of heat across it. This is cheap and well worth doing, again with a relatively quick payback – however a professional will need to install this for you.

      Utilities bill

      Good quality insulating will help conserve heat energy within the building and release less energy into the environment, causing less pollution.

      Homeowners that want to aim for minimal heat consumption may want to opt for insulation, double glazing windows and covering gaps (around doors or other areas) in order to save money in medium to long term whilst better protecting the environment.

      April heralds changes for energy bills

      April heralds changes for energy bills

      You might be wondering why you paying more for your energy?
      Simple answer: The energy price cap increased. On the first of April this year the energy price cap increased by 54%. What is a price cap?

      What is Fuel Poverty and how can it be alleviated?

      What is Fuel Poverty and how can it be alleviated?

      Although fuel poverty is defined and measured slightly differently across the UK, it is typically associated with families from the lower economic spectrum that are financially challenged by the utilities costs that are expended on warming the home.

      In England, families that find themselves with residual incomes below the poverty threshold after covering the fuel expenses, or, experience fuel costs that are above the national median level, are considered to suffer from fuel poverty, according to the Low-Income High Cost (LIHC) metric.

      In Scotland, households that experience fuel poverty are those whose utilities costs are above 10% than the households adjusted income. For households receiving social benefits and find themselves without enough financial resources to maintain an “acceptable standard of living” after covering the fuel expenses, are also considered to be experiencing fuel poverty.

      Similar criteria are present also in Wales, where the 10% rules also apply but moreover, when families spend more than 20% of their household income on fuelling their home, they are classified as being in severe fuel poverty.

      Seniors arguing over electricity bill.

      Risks and Main Contributing Factors

      There are various factors contribute to fuel poverty, some that involve the individual or household, whilst some relate to the house or property itself. Risk factors associated with individual households can involve things such as: low income, unemployment, high fuel costs, fuel payment methods, young age (16-25), senior age (65+) and individuals with medical conditions.

      Property related risk factors could be the age, size and state of repair of the property. The quality and amount of insulation in the property. The properties construction type and the efficiency of it’s heating system as well as type of tenure can also have a significant impact on fuel poverty in the household.

      Electricity Bill numbers

      Statistics & Demographics

      In 2018, England reported that 2.4 million (10.3%) of its households are classified as fuel poor, whilst Scotland and Wales identified 619,000 and 155,000 households, respectively, that experience fuel poverty. In the West Midlands alone, households classified as fuel poor are well in excess of 300,000.

      Furthermore, the current pandemic is likely to have increased these figures further across the country.

      Typical Characteristics of Fuel Poverty

       

      What you may hear:

      • Home is usually too cold/ draughty.
      • The householders have respiratory problems.
      • The fuel bills are too high.
      • They are getting into fuel debt.
      • The householders stay in bed to keep warm.
      • The householder/s may wish to stay in hospital because it is more comfortable.
      • They have moved over to a prepayment meter to avoid incurring debt.

       

      What you may feel:

      • Cold.
      • Large differences in temperatures between rooms.
      • Your hands might be cold to the touch.
      • You might smell Damp.
      • Sense of gloom and a depressed atmosphere.

       

      What you may see:

      • Children constantly have runny noses, rashes, ear infections, conjunctivitis.
      • Children often off school.
      • Children are emotional/ tired.
      • Mould stains on walls or curtains.
      • Peeling wallpaper or paint.
      • Ventilation points blocked.
      • Householder wearing too much clothing.

       

      What you may notice about the heating:

      • Portable bottled gas heaters.
      • Partial or no fixed heating system.
      • Heating controls absent / not working / switchedoff.
      • Visual evidence that heating appliances are not in use.
      Senior at risk due to fuel poverty.

      Health Implications

      Fuel poverty can have a diverse set of health implications depending on either household temperature or the cleanliness of the household.

      Cold Weather Plan for England have suggested that low indoor temperature present a range of health-related risks caused by fuel poverty such as: heart attacks/strokes, respiratory disease, influenza, worsening of existing health conditions or slower recoveries, falls/injuries, hypothermia, development of mental health illnesses, carbon monoxide poisoning, poorer nutrition.

      To avoid such risks, homes should be kept at a temperature of 18*C-24*C (64*F-75*F). Home temperatures that drop below 16*C (61*F) present diminished resistance to respiratory infections. When temperatures are below 12*C (54*F) they affect body temperatures and increase blood pressure and viscosity, whereas when homes are warmed at bellow 5*C (41*F), a significant risk of hypothermia is present.

      In terms of damp and mould in the household, they can enhance the risk of respiratory infections, runny nose, itchy eyes, cough, rhinitis, as well as reducing the resistance to bacteria and viruses.

      Summary

      Although there are various factors that contribute to fuel poverty, the three main causes that would also require the most attention are the high costs of fuel, low income, but also poor energy efficiency. It is the combination of these factors that place various householders in difficult conditions and lead to physical and mental health problems.

      Potential Solutions

      In an attempt to understand and help overcome factors that can cause fuel poverty, a series of solutions and ideas have been initialised by the British Government, as well as other (non-profit) organisations, such as Warmer Homes West Midlands.

      Several of these solutions are listed below:

      April heralds changes for energy bills

      April heralds changes for energy bills

      You might be wondering why you paying more for your energy?
      Simple answer: The energy price cap increased. On the first of April this year the energy price cap increased by 54%. What is a price cap?