Ways to keep warm without the worry
As someone affected by cancer, you may find yourself feeling more cold. If you're spending longer periods of time at home, you'll probably need to use more heating and electricity.
Speaking to your energy supplier
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If you’re having trouble paying your bills or are worried about getting into debt, you should contact your energy supplier as soon as possible.
If you’re living with cancer, you should let your supplier know. They should place you on the Priority Service Register, which gives you access to free extra services from your supplier. It also ensures your energy won’t be cut off if you fall behind on your payments. Your supplier may also be able to help you with certain grants or payments.
Warm Home Discount (WHD)
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In England, Scotland and Wales, the Warm Home Discount
(WHD) entitles those who are eligible to an annual rebate on electricity bills. From 1 April 2012, the rebate is fixed at
£130 with a small annual increase. The payment is made by your energy supplier.
Some people are automatically eligible for the WHD. This includes those in receipt of certain benefits including people receiving the guarantee element of Pension Credit. Participating energy companies may provide the WHD to people affected by cancer, but you will need to apply for it and meet certain criteria.
To apply for the WHD, contact your energy supplier. If you are not eligible under your supplier’s scheme or they don’t operate the WHD, you could consider switching to another supplier.
For more information visit Direct Gov or the Department of Energy and Climate Change website. You can also contact our cancer support specialists for information and support.
Grants and funds from suppliers
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Depending on your situation, you may qualify for certain payments or grants to help with your fuel costs. Most of the major energy companies have funds or trusts designed to help people in difficult situations. You can find out about some of these by visiting the Charis Grants website.
Energy companies have a variety of schemes to help people make their homes more energy efficient.
As well as talking to your energy supplier, you could also contact the Home Heat Helpline. It works with the six major energy companies in the UK and can provide information about any benefits or grants that you may be able to receive. Call free on 0800 33 66 99 or visit the Home Heat Helpline website
See our information about heating grants for more about schemes, payments and grants designed to help you pay your bills. You can also contact our cancer support specialists with any benefits questions.
Looking for cheaper alternatives
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There are many gas and electricity companies that offer a variety of tariffs. You may want to consider switching your energy provider to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal. This could help reduce your bills. Generally, the best deals are those that involve paying by direct debit or online.
Switching your energy supplier is easy, but you’ll need to know how much energy you currently use and the cost of the tariff you are already on. This information should be on a recent bill. Remember that when you switch companies, your previous supplier will bill you for all of the energy you use until the date you switch. Make sure you can afford this before making the change.
To help compare prices you can:
Regular payment schemes
Energy suppliers may offer a regular payment scheme to help you budget for the cost of your energy bills. By choosing to pay a fixed amount on a regular basis (for example, every week or month), you can spread the cost of your bills.
If you don’t use a mains gas supply
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 make a group purchase with their neighbours. Paying by direct debit (or through a monthly budget plan - ask your supplier whether they offer this) may help you spread the cost.
Solid fuel and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) customers may also benefit from shopping around, stocking up on fuel in the autumn and speaking to their supplier if they are struggling to afford their bills.
We have more information about how planning and managing your finances can help at this time.
In Northern Ireland, there are a limited number of energy companies so changing suppliers may not be possible. The Consumer Council for Northern Ireland has information about dealing with fuel bills. You can contact the council on 028 9067 2488 or by visiting the Consumer Council website.
People in Northern Ireland may also be eligible for a Northern Ireland-only scheme called Warm Homes as well as other UK-wide schemes discussed in our heating grants section.