The cost of living crisis may mean that you are struggling with your household bills.
This page provides information on national and local support to help with your energy and water bills, plus guidance on how you can make your home more energy efficient longer term.
Help with your energy bills
Many people are struggling with their energy bills or getting into energy debt. It's important that you contact your energy supplier if that's the case, as they can offer a wide variety of support.
Energy UK has some key information on when it's best to contact your energy supplier, the support schemes to ask for, and ways to help with your energy bills. This includes:
- See what support schemes your supplier offers - these can be payment holidays, credit advances, pre-payment meters to help with budgeting or restructuring your payment plan.
- Checking your eligibility for the Priority Services Register - there is additional support available for disabled people, customers in recovery, pregnant, extra communication needs, and many other eligibility factors. You can also do this on behalf of your family or someone you're supporting.
- Taking regular meter readings for accurate, not estimated, bills - you are advised to submit monthly meter readings to ensure accurate and regular bills. If you already have a working smart meter installed, readings will be done automatically.
- Getting on a smart meter - smart meters provide real-time information about your energy usage, helping you manage your use and avoid estimated bills. They can also help show you how certain household items might not cost as much to run as you imagine. You can request a smart meter by contacting your energy supplier. The installation is free of charge.
- Understanding your energy bills - they can often seem very complicated and confusing, which can be really stressful when you're struggling to pay or manage your energy debt.
- Making your house more energy efficient - often some simple measures around your home can reduce your bills, turning down your boiler, changing some cooking habits, and showering for slightly less time.
- Being aware of fraud and scams - Government support packages are applied automatically, so any messages offering help to claim the rebate are likely to be fraudulent. You should contact your energy supplier if you're in doubt and report any scams to Action Fraud.
- Checking if your energy supplier is part of Energy UK’s Vulnerability Commitment, and if they feature in their good practice reports for customer service and vulnerability.
Ofgem have also provided a document of information on supporting people with energy bills. This runs through explaining your bills, what your rights are, how to take accurate meter readings, how to remain gas safe, if you're in rented accommodation, and steps to take if you're in debt.
Millions of people have had smart maters installed. It's understandable that some people remain unsure about installing them, especially in light of increasing energy costs. It's important to read up on smart meters and how they can benefit your home and your budgeting.
86% of people with a smart meter have said that they have changed how they do things around the house to use less energy.
Smart Energy provide case studies of people who have made the switch.
You can get a smart meter when you're on a pre-payment meter and often it can help you budget your energy bills more accurately.
People are often concerned that if they struggle to pay their energy bills they will be forced into having a pre-payment meter.
Energy suppliers won’t disconnect your gas or electric if you miss a payment unless they have tried to find ways for you to pay back that money. Ofgem rules mean energy suppliers must offer payment plans you can afford. Call your energy supplier if you are worried. Most have signed up to the Vulnerability Commitments drawn up with Ofgem and the industry trade body Energy UK to support vulnerable households.
Both Ofgem and Energy UK offer practical support to you on the conditions that have to be met for your energy supplier to move you onto a pre-payment meter.
Pre-payment meters can be useful for people who want to budget better and you can discuss this option with your energy supplier or with Citizen's Advice or Step Change who offer free advice on when pre-payment meters may be the best option for your budgeting.
Breathing Space, sometimes called the Debt Respite Scheme, is a free government scheme that could give you up to 60 days' space from creditors to set up a debt solution. The Step Change debt charity can help you apply.
Further support with energy bills
The Government’s Help for Households website details nationally led support for energy bills.
This includes the Energy Bill Support Scheme, which is giving every household £400 (spread over monthly payments from October 2022 to March 2023) towards their energy bills. If you pay your bill by direct debit payments, this will be paid automatically.
If you are on a pre-payment meter, then you need to redeem your vouchers. Vouchers are only valid for 90 days, so you need to redeem vouchers as soon as possible. Find out more on the Help for Households website.
UK Government Help for Households website
The Energy Saving Trust has pulled together #EnergySavingHacks, a series of tips and advice that could help you save up to £564 a year on your energy bills, all whilst reducing your carbon footprint.
#EnergySavingHacks - Energy Saving Trust website
The Energy Price Cap, set by Ofgem, sets the maximum amount energy suppliers can charge you for each unit of energy you use. Better understanding the cap can help you plan your energy use - find out more using Money Saving Expert's energy price cap calculator.
Energy Price Cap Calculator - Money Saving Expert website
Electricity North West's Extra Care Register offers support and advice to households who might struggle during a power cut. It is free to sign up to the register on the Electricity North West website.
Extra Care Register - Electricity North West website
Help to make your home more energy efficient
Making improvements to your home can help make it more energy efficient and reduce your energy bills.
Groundwork's Energyworks team is working across Greater Manchester to help you stay warm by providing energy saving advice and home improvement options.
Energyworks in Greater Manchester - Groundwork
Your Home Better is a one-stop-shop to help you make your home more energy efficient and comfortable. It can support you with advice on where to start, finding contractors, as well as overseeing the installation.
Support with water bills
You can also get support if you are struggling with your water bills.
United Utilities have lots of ways to support you with your water bill payments, including flexible ways to pay, financial support with your bills, and help with managing your money.
CCW is the independent voice for water consumers in England and Wales. They have helped thousands of consumers resolve complaints against their water company or retailer, while providing free advice and support.
They provide advice and information on payment breaks, water meters, debt support schemes, financial hardship schemes, bill caps, and flexible payment plans.
Support from your local council
Your local council may also be able to offer support around energy and energy saving advice:
- Affordable Warmth and Energy Efficiency (Bolton Care & Repair)
- Financial help to keep your home warm (Bury Council)
- Help with energy bills (Manchester City Council)
- Help to heat your home (Oldham Council)
- Free home improvements and energy advice (Rochdale Council)
- Improve energy efficiency in the home - Salford City Council
- Improving energy efficiency in Stockport - Stockport Council
- Energy Saving Grants and Funding (Tameside Council)
- Make your home more energy efficient (Trafford Council)
- Warm homes (Wigan Council)