Millions of pounds worth of heating grants and Warm Home Discounts go unclaimed every year – simply because families aren’t aware they exist.
Worryingly, six million UK households are planning to cut back on heating this winter to save money, according to watchdog Consumer Focus.
Do you struggle to heat your home or pay your bills? Perhaps you could do with a new boiler or better insulation? Whatever your situation, there are dozens of heating grants and energy schemes out there that could save you hundreds of pounds a year. But it’s normally up to you to apply – and if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
Why apply for heating grants?
- Save money: they can save you literally hundreds of pounds a year. Think what you could do with all that extra money!
- Keep your family warm during winter: you don’t want your family’s health to suffer by cutting back on heating. You can get money to make your home more energy efficient, as well as money to help pay for heating.
- Improve your property: if your home boasts great insulation and a top-notch heating system, you could improve the value of your property (or at least make it more attractive to buyers).
- Help the environment: the less energy you use, the better it is for the planet.
Search through heating grants in your area
The good news about energy grants is that there are literally hundreds of them. Central government, local councils, charities and energy companies all have money to give away. Many energy grants are unique to particular regions.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to find out what grants are available in your local area, and which ones you qualify for. The Energy Saving Trust has a really useful advice helpline – give them a call and they’ll talk you through what you could apply for.
- Energy Saving Trust advice helpline for England, Wales and Northern Ireland: call 0300 123 1234
- Energy Saving Trust advice helpline for Scotland: call 0800 512 012
Who qualifies? Depends on the grant, but many are open to anyone.
How much will I get? Depends on the grant – anything from £40-£4,000.
What will it cover? All sorts – grants can cover anything from the installation of energy monitors (worth about £30) to new heating systems (worth about £3,000-4,000).
How do I apply? Phone the Energy Saving Trust helpline and they’ll talk you through the whole process.
You may qualify for a £130 annual discount from your energy company via the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
Warm Home Discount - £130 off your energy bills
If you struggle to pay your energy bills, you may qualify for a £130 annual discount from your energy company via the Warm Home Discount Scheme. Many people think that this only applies to pensioners but that’s not the case – energy companies have an obligation to provide this discount to ‘vulnerable groups’ as well as the elderly.
You may be eligible for the discount if you are on certain benefits and struggle to pay your energy bills, especially if you have young children. However the rules vary for each energy company – see here for the different eligibility criteria.
To apply you’ll need to approach your energy company directly.
Not all energy companies are signed up to the Warm Homes Scheme. Currently the following suppliers are on board: Atlantic, British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, Equipower, Equigas, Manweb, M&S Energy, npower, Sainsbury's Energy, Scottish Gas, Scottish Hydro, ScottishPower, Southern Electric, SSE, Swalec and Utility Warehouse.
Who qualifies? Those classed as vulnerable and those on pension credit. See here for details on who qualifies as a vulnerable group.
How much will I get? £130 annual discount.
What will it cover? Energy bills.
How do I apply? Get in contact with your energy company. If you need any help, you can call the Warm Home Discount Scheme helpline on 0845 603 9439.
Get FREE home insulation – and save up to £300 on your energy bills
If you are on certain benefits or over 70, you may be able to get free cavity wall and loft insulation for your home. This would save you about £300 a year off your energy bills.
Who qualifies? Those on certain benefits or who are over 70.
How much will I get? You get free insulation, which will save you around £300 a year. See our free home insulation guide for full details.
What will it cover? Cavity wall and loft insulation.
How do I apply? See our full guide to claiming free home insulation.
Warm Front Scheme – get up to £3,500 for insulation and heating costs
If you are on certain income-related benefits, and live in a property that is poorly insulated or doesn’t have a central heating system, you could be eligible for household improvements worth up to £3,500 (or more where oil central heating and some other heating technologies are recommended).
More ways to cut your bills
The grant can be used for various improvements, including draught proofing, installing wall, loft or water tank insulation, and revamping or installing a proper gas, electric or oil heating system.
Although the Warm Front Scheme only applies to England, other parts of the UK have very similar schemes:
- England: Warm Front - 0800 316 2805
- Scotland: Energy Assistance Project - 0800 512 012
- Wales: NEST - 0808 808 2244
- Northern Ireland: Warm Homes - 0800 988 0559
Who qualifies? Those on certain income-related benefits, or Child Tax Credit with an income of £15,860 or less. See the Warm Front website for the full qualifying criteria.
How much will I get? Households can claim up to a maximum of £3,500 (or up to £6,000 if it’s recommended your home receives oil heating).
What will it cover? Draught proofing, insulation, heating improvements.
How do I apply? You can apply online or by calling 0800 316 2805.
Energy company charitable trusts – for those getting into debt over their energy bills
If you’re getting into arrears over your gas or electricity bills due to severe financial hardship, you can apply for a grant to pay off your energy debts.
You may also qualify for something called Further Assistance Payment (FAP), in which case the energy trusts will not only help pay your energy bills, but other debts and costs as well. In some cases they may even pay for essential household items such as a new boiler, washing machine or cooker.
To apply you will need to give a full account of how your debts built up, provide proof of your income, and demonstrate how the money would help you – but in return these trusts can pay out grant money of thousands of pounds in some cases.
To apply to the EDF and npower trusts you must be a customer of that company – however anyone can apply to the British Gas Energy Trust, regardless of your energy supplier. (Bear in mind that there’s no point applying to more than one energy trust, as they are all administered by the same company – so if you’re unsuccessful with the British Gas Energy Trust, you will almost certainly be unsuccessful with the others).
If water bills are just as much a problem as electricity bills, check out our guide to water grants.
If you’re struggling with debt in general, have a look at our guide on the best ways to get out of debt.
And remember to make sure you check whether you are getting the cheapest gas or electricity deal.
Who qualifies? Anyone in financial hardship (British Gas Trust). Otherwise you must be an EDF or npower customer.
How much will I get? It varies, but potentially £1,000+
What will it cover? Energy bills. If you qualify for FAP then they may also cover other bills and essential household items.
How do I apply? For the British Gas Energy Trust, you can fill out an online application form or print off a paper copy to post. Alternatively, EDF customers can apply to the EDF Energy Trust, while npower customers can apply to the npower Energy Trust.
Even if you don’t qualify for a heating grant or Warm Home discount, there are plenty of other ways you can make your home more energy efficient (we’ve gathered together some energy-saving tips for you, as well as a guide to simple ways you can cut your electricity bill).