Ways to keep warm without the worry
You may feel the cold more if you have cancer. There are lots of ways to keep the costs down if you're using more heating and electricity in your home.
There are many things you can do to make your home warmer and reduce your bills.
Here are a few tips:
When you put the kettle on, only boil the amount of water you need.
Turn off computers and other electrical things when you’re not using them. IT equipment accounts for about 13% of people’s electricity bills.
Using energy saving light bulbs can save you lots of money over time. It’s also a good idea to turn the lights off when you’re not using a room.
Don’t cover radiators with furniture or curtains.
Keep the heat in by shutting doors and windows in the rooms you use the most. Seal gaps around doors with draft excluders.
For more tips on making your home warmer and saving money, visit the Energy Saving Trust website.
Fitting insulation into your home is a big step but could help you make significant savings. The better a home is insulated, the less money you'll spend heating it. Consider insulating your loft and walls. You could even think about draft proofing or having new windows. The schemes listed on our help with energy costs page may help with these costs. All of the major fuel companies also provide either free or discounted insulation.
In some parts of the UK, there are independent advice centres that can offer specific advice on making your home warmer. They may even be able to visit you in your home. Your local council can tell you if there is an energy advice centre in your area.
Speaking to your energy supplier
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If you can’t pay your bills or are worried about debt, contact your energy supplier as soon as possible. You should let your supplier know that you have cancer, as they may be able to offer you support.
If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, the company should place you on a list called the Priority Services Register. This is for people who need extra care.
Some benefits of this may include:
access to free extra services
extra help as grants or payments
your energy won't be cut off if you fall behind on payments.
In Northern Ireland
The Priority Services Register doesn’t apply in Northern Ireland. Instead, Northern Ireland Electricity and Northern Ireland Water have critical care registers for people who strongly rely on electricity or water for their health needs. Customers on these registers will get extra support if their power or water supply stops working.
Energy companies in Northern Ireland also have customer care registers. Customers who are disabled, elderly or have certain health needs can join these registers to get free extra services. Contact the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland to compare the extra services offered by different companies.
Accessing funds and trusts from energy companies
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Your energy supplier may be able to provide a grant to help with your fuel costs. The help they give will depend on your situation. Most of the major energy companies have funds or trusts that:
help people in difficult situations, by reducing their bills or granting them money to reduce their debt
help people make their homes more energy efficient, which can reduce their energy bills.
A booklet by Auriga services, called Help with water and energy bills [PDF, 1.67MB] has details of the funds and trusts offered by the major energy companies in England, Scotland and Wales.
Contact your supplier and ask what help they offer. You could also visit their website.
You can also contact the Home Heat Helpline. It works with major energy companies in England, Scotland and Wales and gives information about benefits and grants. Call free on 0800 33 66 99 or visit the website.
If you live in Northern Ireland, you can get free energy advice by calling the Bryson Energy Advice Line on 0800 1422 865 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Complaining or getting advice about your supplier
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If you have a problem with your energy supplier or need advice about dealing with a company, contact:
Try to resolve the complaint with the company if you can. If this isn't possible, you could contact the Ombudsman Services: Energy in England, Scotland or Wales, or the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland.
Looking for cheaper alternatives
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There are a number of gas and electricity companies and they offer a variety of tariffs. You may want to consider asking your current supplier if they can offer a cheaper tariff or switching your energy provider.
By making sure you’re getting the best possible deal, you could reduce your bills. The best deals are generally those that involve paying by direct debit or online.
Switching your energy supplier can be straightforward. Before switching, you’ll need to know how much energy you use and the name of your current tariff. This information should be on a recent bill.
Remember that when you change companies, your previous supplier will charge you for all of the energy you use until the date you switch. Make sure you can afford this before making the move.
You can use an energy price comparison website to help you find the best deal. In England, Scotland and Wales, some of these websites are approved by a scheme called the Confidence Code. You can find these recommended websites by visiting the Confidence Code website. In Northern Ireland, you can visit the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland website to compare energy supplier rates.
You can also phone different gas and electricity companies and ask them for the best deal appropriate to you.
If you receive a payment called the Warm Home Discount, it’s worth checking if a new supplier participates in this scheme before you switch. There's more detail about this below.
If you don't use a mains gas supply
If your home isn’t connected to a mains gas supply, it may be worth getting several quotes when you buy fuel.
If you use heating oil, you may be able to save money by stocking up on fuel early in the autumn rather than waiting until winter. Heating oil users can also sometimes receive discounts if they buy in a group. You can find information on oil buying clubs at the Acre website.
You could also spread the cost by paying by direct debit, or through a monthly budget plan. Ask your supplier if they offer this.
Solid fuel and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) customers may also benefit from comparing prices, stocking up on fuel in the autumn and speaking to their supplier if they are struggling to pay their bills.