Man freezing and shivering at home because of winter cold

Keeping The Lights On

My utility bills go through the roof during the winter months making it hard to afford everything else I need. Friends have told me that there are payments available to help with heating during the winter but I don’t know where to look. Can you help? I really don’t want to keep my heating and lights off if I don’t need to. Krisna L, Manchester

Penny Says: Dear Krisna,

Thanks for your question about energy bills, I don’t think any of us are looking forward to the cold weather, as we have had price rises again this year. It is important to make sure with your landlord that your home meets the required standards for insulation. You may be able to access free home energy checkups locally for this from schemes such as ‘Green Doctor. Have you had a look at the new smart meters, they can help you monitor how you manage your energy usage, only pay for what you use and they will fit for free.

There are schemes that can help with energy bills too, for retired tenants they will get the winter fuel payment  of between £100 and £300 depending on age and circumstances. For the poorer pensioners in receipt of pension credit and for working age tenants on low income there is the Warm Home Discount Rebate of £140 off your electric bill in the first quarter of the year contact your electric supplier to apply if you haven’t already. Finally those on means-tested benefits – Employment Support Allowance, Job Seekers Allowance, Pension Credit, Income Support or Universal Credit will get £25 for each 7 day period of cold weather between 1st Nov and 31 March.

Those are the main schemes, but if anyone is still struggling with energy debts it may be worth accessing advice from a local advice agency who can help you to access energy debt help or energy trust fund grants where required.

Hope that helps Krisna, no need for anyone to suffer in the cold this year!

Now, I’ve had my eye on a lovely king size 15tog duvet at my local ASDA, all this talk about winter has made me want to dive into a cosy bed.

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