Energy grants - the ultimate guide
How energy grants can help
If you’re struggling to pay for your gas or electricity, or want to make your home more efficient so it uses less fuel, help is out there. There are many energy grants available to help with your heating bills or clear your energy debt. You could even get a free or subsidised boiler - perfect if yours needs replacing.
Some energy grants are offered by the government, while other benefits are provided by utility suppliers and charitable trusts - and many go unclaimed each year. But what are these grants and how do you get them? Luckily, we’re here to help you with our ultimate guide to energy grants.
Energy grants offered by suppliers
As an energy supplier, we provide help to our customers through the Warm Home Discount and ECO schemes. Find out more in this section, including how to qualify and apply.
Warm Home Discount
The Warm Home Discount offers those at risk of fuel poverty direct financial support in the form of a £140 rebate off their winter electricity bill. It’s a government grant that’s offered by all the big utility providers, although if you’re a customer of a small energy supplier, it’s worth checking because many do still offer this annual credit.
Who is eligible for the Warm Home Discount and how do I apply?
If you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit you’ll receive it automatically, without even having to apply.
But other customers are eligible too, such as those on a low income, or people who get certain means-tested benefits. Each supplier has their own eligibility criteria, which is approved by the regulator Ofgem. If you’re an npower customer you can find out if you’re eligible for the grant by visiting our page.
What else do I need to know about the Warm Home Discount?
All suppliers vary, but the Warm Home Discount is usually applied between October and May. Remember that the grant isn't paid directly to you though, it comes in the form of a one-off discount on your electricity bill.
Make sure you apply as early as you can once the scheme opens, because there is a limit to the number of people that can be helped each year - although this doesn’t apply to those who receive the discount automatically.
You should also be careful if you switch supplier. If you apply for the Warm Home Discount then switch before you get the payment, you’ll have to apply again with your new supplier before the deadline - and they might also have different eligibility criteria.
ECO scheme for free or subsidised boiler replacement and insulation
The Energy Companies’ Obligation (also known as the ECO scheme) has been running since 2013 and although many call it a government boiler scheme, that’s not strictly true - it’s actually run by energy suppliers themselves. The government made it compulsory for the UK’s largest energy companies to provide help with heating for the households that need it most.
Part of the ECO scheme is called Affordable Warmth and it’s this section of the scheme that aims to provide subsidised and free replacement boilers, as well as free cavity wall and free loft insulation, to those on certain government benefits.
Grants for free or subsidised boilers
Need a replacement boiler? You could get one for free (or heavily subsidised) if you qualify for the ECO free boiler scheme. Here at npower, for example, we’ve installed more than 60,000 new boilers since the scheme started. npower customers who qualify can get a brand new A-rated energy-efficient boiler fitted that’s equivalent to the type of boiler they already have.
Each supplier has its own eligibility criteria, but you might qualify for a free boiler grant if you live in social or private housing and claim one of following benefits:
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Universal Credit
- Pension Guarantee Credit - you won’t be eligible if you only claim Pension Savings Credit
- Income Support
npower customers can use our online tool to see if they’re eligible for a free or subsidised boiler.
If you’re not an npower customer, contact your own supplier. Alternatively, contact the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 or email Energy Advice. They can tell you if you’re eligible for help and give you advice on how to apply.
Grants for free insulation
If you qualify, you could get help with the following:
- Cavity wall insulation
- Solid wall insulation
- Draught proofing
- Loft or roof insulation
- Under-floor insulation
For more advice, you can use the government energy grants calculator to find out what kind of home improvements you could claim for.
Energy grants offered by the government
The government provides other ways to help with your heating costs in the form of energy grants, such as the Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payment.
Winter Fuel Payment
The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual payment of between £100 and £300 that provides help with heating for older people during the winter. Exactly how much you’ll get depends on your age and your circumstances in what’s known as the qualifying week - a date that changes each year. It won’t affect any benefits you receive either.
Who is eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment?
The payment is not means tested. So anyone who’s old enough and has lived in the UK throughout the qualifying week (normally a week in mid-September each year) can get the tax-free benefit regardless of income - and some can even claim if they’re living abroad in certain eligible countries in Europe.
However, there are people of the right age who won’t qualify - it all depends on their circumstances in the qualifying week. For example, if you were in prison, in hospital getting free treatment for more than 52 weeks, or were living in a care home for the previous 12 weeks and receiving Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
How do I apply for the Winter Fuel Payment?
If you’re eligible and get the State Pension or any other benefits (with the exception of Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction or Child Benefit), you’ll get the Winter Fuel Payment automatically and don’t need to apply for it.
If you’re eligible but that doesn’t apply to you, you’ll need to make a claim. You can do this on the government’s Winter Fuel Payment email enquiry form or by calling 03459 151515.
How much Winter Fuel Payment will I get paid?
It all depends on your circumstances in the qualifying week. For example, if you live alone and are 80 or over, you will get the maximum £300. However, if you live with someone who’s also receiving the maximum Winter Fuel Payment, you may only get £100 if you’re under 80. To find out exactly what you’ll get paid, visit the Winter Fuel Payment page on the gov.uk website.
What else do I need to know about the Winter Fuel Payment?
Most payments are made automatically before Christmas, usually in November or December. Make sure you report any change of circumstances as these can affect how much you get. For example, if the qualifying person stops getting a benefit or goes into care. You can report any changes to the office paying your benefits.
Cold Weather Payments
Cold Weather Payments are one-off government grants that provide help with heating for those on benefits to cover energy costs caused by a cold snap. If you’re eligible, you’ll get the payment each time the temperature drops to below freezing for seven consecutive days.
Who is eligible for Cold Weather Payments?
You’ll usually be eligible if you get Pension Credit, but may also be eligible if you receive Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit and meet various other criteria, such as having a child under five who lives with you or a disabled premium. Check the government’s website for full details of the Cold Weather Payment eligibility criteria.
What else do I need to know about Cold Weather Payments?
You’ll get £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March - and it won’t affect any other benefit you receive. There’s no need to do anything at all. If you’re eligible, you’ll receive it automatically into the same bank account as your benefit payments. You’ll get a payment within 14 working days of every cold weather period.