Keeping warm

There are lots of ways you can help keep your home warm:

  • Only boil the water you need.
  • Turn off electrical devices.
  • Use energy-saving light bulbs.
  • Shut doors and windows.
  • Don’t cover radiators.
  • Insulate your home.

You can find more tips at

You should tell your supplier that you have cancer. If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, they should place you on a priority services register. This means you will get access to free extra services, won’t be cut off and may have access to grants. In Northern Ireland, you could be placed on their critical care register to receive extra support.

There are some other ways you could save money on your fuel costs:

  • You may be able to access a trust or fund through your energy supplier.
  • Find cheaper alternatives to your current supplier using a price comparison website.

If you do not have a main line gas supply, shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal on your fuel.

Tips for keeping warm when you have cancer

There are many things you can do to keep your energy bill down and make your home warmer without turning up the heating. 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 devices when you’re not using them. On average, IT equipment accounts for 13% of people’s electricity bills.
  • Energy-saving light bulbs can save you lots of money over time. Even turning lights off for a short period will save energy, so it’s a good idea to always turn the lights off whenever you’re not using a room.
  • Keep the heat in by shutting doors and windows in the rooms you use the most.
  • Don’t cover radiators with curtains or furniture, and seal gaps around doors wit draft excluders.

For more tips on making your home warmer and more energy efficient and saving money, visit

Fitting insulation to your home is a big step but could help you make significant savings. The better a home is insulated, the less money will be needed to heat it. Consider insulation for your loft, walls and even draft proofing or new windows. All of the major fuel companies also provide either free or discounted insulation. Many local authorities also have schemes.

Contact the Energy Saving Trust for information on schemes in your area.

In some parts of the UK, there are independent advice centres that can offer tailored advice on making your home warmer. They may even be able to visit you in your home. Your council can advise you if there is an energy advice centre in your area. Examples of local advice centres include the Severn Wye Energy Agency in south west England and Wales and Tadea in North East England.

Speaking to your energy supplier

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 it 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 means the company:

  • will give you access to free extra services
  • won’t cut off your energy if you fall behind on payments
  • may also be able to help you with certain grants or payments.

The priority services register doesn’t apply in Northern Ireland. Instead, Northern Ireland Electricity and Northern Ireland Water have critical care registers for people with health problems. Customers on these registers will get extra support if electricity or water supplies are interrupted.

Energy companies in Northern Ireland also have customer care registers. Customers who are seriously ill, disabled or elderly can join these registers to get free extra services. Visit the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland website to compare the extra services offered by different companies.

Funds and trusts

Your energy supplier may be able to provide payments or grants 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 designed to:

  • 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 called Help with Water and Energy Bills [PDF] has details of schemes the major energy companies in England, Scotland and Wales provide to help their customers.

You can compare energy companies in Northern Ireland on the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland website.

Getting help

Contact your supplier directly and ask what help they offer. You could also visit their website.

Alternatively, in England, Scotland and Wales, you could contact the Home Heat Helpline. It works with major energy companies and gives information about benefits and grants. Call free on 0800 33 66 99 or visit Home Heath Helpline.

If you live in Northern Ireland, you can find out about grants or assistance in your area by calling the Bryson Energy Advice Line on 0800 1422 865 or emailing

Complaints and advice

If you have a problem with your energy supplier or need advice about dealing with a company, contact:

  • the Citizens Advice consumer service in England, Scotland or Wales on 0845 404 0506
  • Consumerline in Northern Ireland on 0300 123 6262.

Try to resolve the complaint with the company if you can. If this doesn’t work, you could contact the Ombudsman Services: Energy in England, Scotland or Wales, or the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland.

Cheaper alternatives

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, to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal. This could help reduce your bills. The best deals are generally those that involve paying by direct debit or online.

Switching suppliers

Switching your energy supplier is easy. 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 bill 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 online energy price comparison website to help you compare prices. In England, Scotland or Wales, some of these websites are approved by a scheme called the Confidence Code. You can find out about recommended websites by visiting Ofgem

Many of these websites also have a telephone service. In Northern Ireland you can visit The Consumer Council website to compare prices.

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 whether a new supplier participates in this scheme before you switch.

Regular payment schemes

Energy suppliers may offer a regular payment scheme to help you budget for the cost of your energy bills. By paying 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 your home isn’t connected to a mains gas supply, it may be worth getting several quotes when you buy fuel, to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.

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 with their neighbours. You can find information on oil buying clubs at

You could spread the cost by paying by direct debit, or through a monthly budget plan – ask your supplier whether they offer this.

Solid fuel and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) customers may also benefit from shopping around, stocking up on fuel in the autumn and speaking to supplier if they are struggling to pay their bills

Keeping warm with npower

Through our partnership with npower we have developed a Fuel Management Programme (FMP). The programme aims to help people affected by cancer who are either experiencing high fuel bills or struggling with the adverse affects from the cold and damp in their homes.

If you are an npower customer and are spending more than 10% of your income on fuel (and have limited savings), then call Macmillan on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm) to find out if you are eligible for the FMP.

If you are accepted on to the programme you could save money on your bills, receive assistance with arrears and energy efficiency advice, and have a full benefits check.

Call our cancer support specialists free on 0808 808 00 00 for more information.

Back to Help with bills and housing costs

Council Tax Reduction

Council Tax Support can help people in England, Scotland and Wales who are struggling to pay their council tax.

Help with energy bills

There are schemes to help you manage the cost of fuel bills and to make energy-saving changes to your home.