What is the Winter Home Discount Scheme?

When it comes to energy provisions, there are few words we like the sound of more than ‘discount’. As far as we’re concerned at Look After My Bills, there’s really no such thing as a bad discount: only a good discount, a great discount and, best of all, the kind of fantastic discount our customers get when they use us to switch energy suppliers. That’s why we’re so keen to tell you all about the Winter Home Discount Scheme – not to be confused with the Winter Fuel Payment.

So, first things first, what is the Winter Home Discount scheme?

Well, it’s also known as the government’s Warm Home Discount scheme and it’s specifically designed to offer financial help to people who find it difficult to meet the cost of heating their homes. In particular, it’s one of a range of energy deals for the over 60s all of which have been designed to play a part in reducing your energy bill and, most importantly, making you feel able to keep properly warm when winter starts to bite. Come to think of it, this being the UK, it’s helpful to be able to keep properly warm when April and May turn out to be freezing cold wash-outs yet again…

If you’re interested in Look After My Bills, then you’re interested in using every clever trick, tool and tactic you can get your hands on to cut your fuel bills. You’re smart like that. That means you’re probably asking ‘how much is the Warm Home Discount?’ and wondering exactly how to apply for the warm home discount. Well, wonder no longer, because Look After My Bills are only too happy to explain exactly what the Warm Home Discount is worth, who can claim it and how they go about doing so. We want to reward you for asking questions, and we can do that by keeping you informed and giving you all the information you need to save money on top of what you’ll save by switching to the best deal.

The basics of the Warm Home Discount:

  • It’s available to low-income households
  • It’s not a cash payment, its money knocked off your bill
  • It currently means you’ll have to pay £140 less
  • It doesn’t impact on being eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment
  • It’s only available through certain providers (but don’t worry, there are lots of them)

There are two groups of pensioners who are eligible for the Warm Home Discount, known as the Core Group and the Broader Group. Take a look at the following and see if you think you fall into either group:

The Core Group

This is made up of pensioners who currently receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credits. If this is the case, then the Department for Work and Pensions should write to tell you that you’re eligible for the scheme before the end of the year. If you are, then the good news is that you don’t have to do anything else – just like switching with Look After My Bills, all the work is done on your behalf and a lovely £140 sized chunk is taken out of your energy bills.

The Broader Group

This is where things get a little bit more complicated.  To fall into this group means that you’re seen as someone who is living in, or only just above, something called ‘fuel poverty’.

So what exactly is ‘fuel poverty’?

Good question. Fuel poverty is the kind of thing that we here at Look After My Bills make it our mission to try and root out. For a long time, the definition of fuel poverty covered any household that spent more than 10% of its income on gas and electricity. In recent years that’s become a bit more complicated, with the official definition being based on households which spend more than the average amount on fuel, and after spending that amount are left with income under the official poverty line.

As you probably know, we don’t like complicated at Look After My Bills, so we’ll just say that if you receive a state benefit like Income Support or Universal Credit (or even if you’ve just noticed you have to think twice before switching up from two bars on the fire to three), it’s worth getting in touch with your energy suppliers to see if you’re eligible.

When and how to apply

Though the government sets out the rules, different providers can use their own discretion, and the rebates given out to the Broader Group are provided on a first-come, first-served basis, so as soon as you’ve finished reading this, get applying! First, you’ll need to check that your supplier is one of those which runs the scheme, and if they are then you need to provide the information they ask for. If you qualify for the scheme, then they’ll knock the £140 off your bill by March 2020.

Is my supplier part of the Warm Home Discount Scheme?

All suppliers have to take part in the scheme as long as they have more than 250,000 customers (and some smaller suppliers choose to take part because they’re very very nice people). Since the majority of customers use the Big Six energy suppliers then it’s highly likely your supplier takes part in the scheme. Just to make sure, this is a list of those companies taking part in the scheme currently:

  • Avro Energy
  • British Gas
  • Bulb
  • Co-operative Energy (also Flow Energy)
  • E Energy
  • EDF Energy
  • ON
  • Green Network Energy
  • Green Star Energy
  • Npower
  • Octopus Energy
  • OVO
  • Scottish Power
  • Shell Energy (previously called First Utility)
  • SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy)
  • Utilita
  • Utility Warehouse

The Warm Home Discount Scheme is just one of the ways in which you can save money on your fuel bills. If you’re over the age of 65 and receive the State Pension or certain other benefits you’ll be entitled to a one-off payment towards heating bills worth between £100 and £300. You could also have an Economy 7 meter fitted in your home and take steps to make sure the building itself is as energy efficient as possible.

Finally, if you’re really serious about saving a minimum of £50 a year and finding the most affordable tariff possible, then spend three minutes arranging to auto-switch with Look After My Bills. See, we told you we’d get back to this eventually. No matter which discounts you can claim, we’ll make sure you’re not paying a penny more than you have to.