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What is fuel poverty?

If you are spending more than 10% of your household income to keep your home heated, you may be experiencing Fuel Poverty.

What are the causes of Fuel Poverty?
Fuel poverty can result from a combination of:

  • Low income
  • High fuel prices
  • Poor energy efficient homes, e.g. low levels of insulation and old or inefficient heating systems
  • Under-occupancy: according to UK Government statistics, on average those in the most extreme fuel poverty live in larger than average homes.

To identify if you, or someone you know, may be experiencing fuel poverty there are four key questions to ask:

  • Is your home cold?
  • Is your home damp?
  • Is your home draughty?
  • Are you concerned about being able to afford to use energy in your home?

Effects of fuel poverty
Fuel poverty effects more than the cost of your fuel bill, the effects can spiral to include the deterioration of your home. Fixing any damage can become costly and stressful. For example:

  • Condensation
  • Dampness
  • Mold
  • Dust mites

Fuel poverty can also have a detrimental effect on your health and your family's health by increasing illness. Ill health can cause stress and affect other areas of your life, such as; employment, school or social life. Possible side effects of fuel poverty may include:

  • Cold-related illnesses
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Allergies
  • Increased risk of heart attacks and strokes
  • Interrupted sleep due to cold
  • Children missing school through illness
  • Worrying about fuel bills - stress and anxiety
  • Social isolation

What can I do to lower my fuel bill?

Switching Energy Provider
If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, there are lots of different companies supplying energy so you can choose to buy your gas and electricity from those that offer you the best deal. Today's staggering fuel prices have created a highly competitive energy market. This buyers market, together with the fact that much of our energy consumption is wasted, means that most UK homes can save up to £300 a year by simply comparing energy prices and making small changes to daily habits.

  • Those on prepayment meters can switch energy supplier, to another prepayment tariff if they want to stay on that meter. Also, OFGEM have recently announced that anyone with energy debts of under £500 can switch supplier, and the new supplier will take on the debt repayments.
  • It is always worthwhile looking to see whether another energy supplier has a better tariff for you. Particularly if you have never switched before or it has been a number of years since you have, you may be missing out on new products, cheaper tariffs and opportunities to fix your energy prices.
  • Keep an eye on your annual utility statements from your fuel providers, using your annual statement you can review who is offering the best deal each year. Using internet comparison sites can be useful to search out the best deal.

If you need help reading your annual statement or navigating the mass of information out there, you can visit the Cardiff Advice Hub.

Alternatively you can contact Nest free on 0808 808 2244, or visit www.nestwales.org.uk.

Energy Suppliers are committed to working together to ensure that the switching process is simple and hassle-free for you. The process of switching suppliers can be made simpler by having certain information handy including:

  • Having your existing supplier's details
  • The name of your current tariff
  • How you pay for your energy (i.e. by direct debit, by receiving your bill, pre payment meter)
  • How much gas and/or electricity you use.

Although it's simple to compare energy suppliers online and switching is easier than ever, you should follow a few guidelines before signing on the dotted line. Ask yourself these questions when comparing energy companies:

  • Are there any hidden charges?
  • Do the prices quoted include VAT?
  • Are you eligible for any special offers, incentives or discounts?
  • What is the supplier's complaints record?
  • Are you 'tied in' for a set period of time e.g. 12 months?

If you would like more information on available tariffs you can contact:
Home Heat Helpline free on 0800 336 699, or visit their website www.homeheathelpline.org.uk.

Nest free on 0808 808 2244, or visit their website www.nestwales.org.uk.
Reducing your bill
The way you pay for your gas and electricity can have an impact on the amount it costs. For example:

  • Buying both gas and electricity from the same supplier can cost less.
  • Some companies apply discounts to your bill for prompt payments.
  • Paying by monthly direct debit rather than a quarterly bill usually saves you money.
  • Some suppliers offer incentives and discounts if you switch to paperless billing.
  • Gas and electricity can be more expensive if you use a pre-payment meter.
  • Some energy companies offer you the chance to fix your energy prices over a certain period of time. This means your bills will stay fixed even if the price of electricity or gas goes up - but remember, your bill will still increase if you use more energy.
  • Cardiff Council has introduced a new scheme that helps you to keep an eye on how much energy you use in your home. You can borrow a Smart Meter from your local library, free of charge, which shows how much energy you are using and how much it is costing you.

When you switch on the kettle, or turn off the tumble drier you will be able to see your electricity use change. This will give you a good idea of how your lighting, appliances and other electrical items affect your bill. This can help you change how you use certain electrical items in order to reduce your costs.

The meter is very easy to use - you simply clip it on to an electricity cable near your meter, and it will give you an immediate reading.

Energy saving top tips

If your boiler is more than 15 years old it should be replaced. Installing a new condensing boiler and controls could save you around £225 a year. Grants are available to help with the cost of getting a new boiler - visit the Cardiff Advice Hub or ring the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99 for further information.

Ensuring you have good heating controls is an excellent way of making sure you don't waste energy. Use your central heating timer to turn heating on and off and not the thermostat.

Turn your heating down by 1°C. If you're used to having your home at 23°C or higher, try turning the thermostat down to 21°C in stages of one degree over a period of two to three weeks. This can save you on average around £55 per year on your fuel bills.

Consider fitting individual radiator or heater thermostats in bedrooms - they only cost a small amount of money and will help you set the heating to the right level in each room. A good place to start is keeping bedrooms around 18°C and 21°C elsewhere.

Switch off radiators in rooms you are not using and keep internal doors shut tight. Otherwise you could be burning energy just to keep a spare room warm.

Keep your radiators clear. For example, do not put large furniture in front of the radiator as it will absorb a lot of the heat. Make sure your radiators are not covered by curtains; most of your heat will literally disappear out of the window.

For properties with high ceilings, placing a shelf just above the radiator helps to deflect the heat into the centre of the room rather than it drifting straight up to the ceiling.

Put radiator panels/radiator foil behind radiators that are fixed to external walls to help reflect the heat back into the room.
A bath typically uses around 80 litres, while a short shower can use as little as a third of that amount. But beware since many power-showers may actually use more than a bath. You can minimise your water use by reusing your bathwater to water your houseplants or garden.

Try to limit electric showers to 10 minutes or invest in a shower monitor/timer to keep an eye on how much hot water you're using. Shower head Aerated showerheads reduce the amount of water in the flow, but maintain pressure by mixing air in with the water. Just like a normal showerhead, they produce a steady, even spray. Low flow showerheads reduce the amount of water that is used, whilst still giving you the full feel of a normal shower.

Remember to turn off the tap while brushing your teeth - a running tap wastes over 6 litres per minute. If the entire adult population of England and Wales remembered to do this, we could save 180 mega litres a day - enough to supply nearly 500,000 homes.

Make sure the water immersion tank is lagged with at least 75mm of insulation. This will help keep the water hot for a long period. Installing a hot water cylinder jacket could save you around £35 a year.

Installing primary pipe work insulation could save you around £10 a year.

About a quarter of all the clean, drinkable water we use in our homes is flushed down a toilet. If you're in the market for a new loo, consider buying a water efficient toilet or one with a dual flush. If your loo is still as good as new, put a hippo or other displacement device into the cistern to save some water. Give your water company a ring; they can give you one of these devices for free.

Free water saving gadgets can include; flush bags, water widgets, shower timers and water audit leaflets - these are normally available from your water supplier. You won't be asked for any card details, simply your address. Terms and conditions may vary per company but they are normally limited to one pack per household, and you have to be a customer of the water company to get the freebie.

Fill a jug with tap water and leave it to cool in your fridge. This way you don't have to run the tap for ages just to get a cold drink.

Wash your vegetables in a bowl instead of under a running tap.

Make sure taps are fully turned off after use. This will help save both water and gas. A dripping tap wastes at least 5,500 litres of water a year: that's enough water wasted to fill a paddling pool every week for the whole summer. Mending your dripping tap washer could save you over £18 a year.

Check out where your main stop valve is and make sure that you can turn it on and off. If ever a pipe bursts, you'll know how to cut off the flow.

Dishwashers: You're likely using more water (and energy) washing up by hand than using a modern efficient dishwasher - even if you're using a washing-up bowl. But make sure you fill the dishwasher or you'll be wasting even more than if you were to wash up by hand. Become familiar with your dishwasher's cycle options. Many settings provide the same cleaning power as a normal cycle, but with less water and energy. Check your user manual for the water consumption of other settings; if this is not provided, contact the manufacturer. Most modern dishwashers are so effective that you don't even have to pre-rinse!

Before starting your washing machine, wait for a full load - a full load uses less water than two half loads; so, you'll be able to save money on energy and water. Familiarise yourself with your washing machine's cycle options. Some settings provide the same cleaning power as a normal cycle, but with less water and energy. Check your user manual for water consumption information about the various cycles on your model, or contact the manufacturer.

Get a water butt for the garden and collect around 5000 liters of rainwater a year to water your plants with instead of a hosepipe.

Use a bucket and sponge to wash the car instead of a hosepipe.
Draught proofing
Remove all draughts around the house to help stop the heat from escaping. You can use draught-proofing kits available from DIY stores to block draughts around external doors and windows. Use letter box covers and key hole covers to help minimise drafts. However never block air vents or grilles as these are sources of necessary ventilation to keep gas or open fires, gas heaters, cookers and boilers operating safely. Draft proofing could save you around £24 a year on your heating bills.

Use thermal or heavy curtains during the winter and close them at dusk. This will help stop heat escaping through the windows.
Having enough insulation in your home can save you money throughout the year. If you have cavity walls you could cut your winter bills by up to 15% by having cavity wall insulation installed.

Installing loft insulation could save around £145 a year. Homes more than ten years old often have four to six inches of insulation, but modern standards call for a depth of at least 270mm (about ten inches).

Most energy companies give grants of around 50% to almost everyone in Britain to have cavity wall and loft insulation installed, so if you don't qualify for help through Nest it could be worth contacting your energy supplier to see what is available.

Everyone over the age of 70 is entitled to free insulation from their energy company. Families on low incomes, people with disabilities and those with long-term health conditions may also qualify.

Fit double glazing to reduce heat loss through windows. Nest.
Electrical items
Turn off the lights you don't need or aren't using.

Use energy saving light bulbs. They last up to 10 times longer than ordinary bulbs, and using one can save you around £45 over the lifetime of the bulb.

Don't leave things on standby. You can save around £30 a year on your electricity bills by using a Standby Saver.

Ensure all electrical appliances are turned off at the plug when not in use. Some items can still use energy when plugged in even if the appliance has been turned off. By turning your appliances off at the source you can save up to £33 a year on your electricity bill.

When you come to replace an appliance, check the energy efficiency rating. Over the life of a washing machine or fridge-freezer, buying energy efficient 'A+' or 'A++' rated model could save you its purchase price in reduced energy bills. Price comparison websites can be useful to source information when considering a new purchase. Also www.which.co.uk offers lots of useful advice and tips on choosing products.
Fridge and freezer
Don't put hot food in a fridge or a freezer.

Keep your fridge at the optimum temperature of around 3°C to 5°C.

Load and unload your fridge as quickly as possible and don't leave the fridge door open for longer than you need to.

Defrost your fridge or freezer on a regular basis to help prevent a build up of ice.

Keep fridges and freezers away from cookers and direct sunlight.

Get the feather duster out - when dust gathers on the condenser coils at the back of your fridge it can increase its energy consumption.

Keep your freezer full. Did you know an empty freezer uses more power than a full one? A handy tip may be to fill your freezer with reduced items from the supermarket, such as bread! Or you could fill up bottles of water to freeze.
Only fill the kettle with as much water as you actually need.

When boiling vegetables use just enough water to keep them covered.

Use the kettle to boil water for cooking, instead of heating a pan on the stove. Not only will this be more efficient, but it generally takes less time too.

Always use the right size of pan for your cooking ring and put a lid on it. This will help save gas and also stops the handle from getting hot and burning your hand.

Use a microwave or a pressure cooker instead of the oven as they should cook food quicker.

A steamer or segmented pan means you can cook several types of vegetables on one ring.

Don't keep the oven door open for too long when it is in use.

Switch off the oven sooner, as some dishes will cook while the oven is cooling.

If you do not use the clock on your microwave turn it off when not in use.
Always use a full load in a washing machine.

Use an economy programme on your washing machine whenever possible or reduce the temperature of your washing machine. Washing clothes at 60°C costs roughly twice as much as washing clothes at 30°C because you're using more energy to heat the water. Advances in detergents mean clothes can be cleaned just as well at lower temperatures.

  • If the weather is fine, dry your laundry outside instead of using the tumble dryer.
  • As tempting as it is, don't dry clothes on the radiators. It makes your boiler work harder than it needs to.
  • Keep filters clean in your tumble dryer.
  • Use Eco Balls in the tumble dryer. They make gaps in the washing to allow the heat to move more freely so clothes will dry quicker. Tumble dryer Eco Balls can save up to 25% of the energy used and reduce your electricity bill by £15 per year.

Help with your bills

Are you eligible for help from your Energy Provider?
You may qualify for extra help from your energy provider if you are:

  • Pension age
  • Disabled
  • A family living on low income
  • Living with long-term health conditions
  • Living on benefits

If you are unsure whether you can qualify for help, visit the Cardiff Advice Hub and talk to one of our friendly advisors, or contact the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99.

Alternatively you could contact your energy provider directly; however it may be useful to be aware of discounts available to you, in your particular circumstance, before contacting your energy provider to ensure that you are receiving the best deal possible.
Warm home discount
The Warm Home Discount scheme is designed to help vulnerable customers on a low income through a rebate which is credited to the electricity account.

There are two groups that qualify for the Warm Home Discount, the Broad Group and the Core Group.

The Broad Group consist of:
Almost anyone can apply through the Broad Group criteria however only those on low incomes or considered to be fuel poor/at risk of fuel poverty, are likely to be considered for the discount.

The individual supplier can set the criteria for the Broad Group as long as it meets OFGEM approval. You could be eligible for an annual discount.

The broader group eligibility criteria changes every year and money is provided on a first come first served basis, so it's worth getting your application in early, i.e. April. When the money runs out for the financial year in question, applications will no longer be available.

The Core Group consists of:

  • Those over the age of 75 who are in receipt of the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Those under the age of 75 and receiving the guaranteed element of Pension Credit (you won't qualify if you also receive the savings element of Pension Credit)

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and suppliers will try to make sure that all eligible consumers in the Core Group automatically receive the Warm Home Discount as an annual rebate on their electricity bill. However, this will not identify all eligible consumers in the Core Group. Therefore it is important to contact your energy supplier directly.

Application forms for the Warm Home Discount can be found on your individual energy supplier's website; alternatively you can call your energy supplier to find out more.

The 'big six' suppliers currently provide a Warm Home Discount. To find out more about discounts or rebates as well as funding for other industry initiatives such as independent trust funds contact the suppliers directly.

There are lots of suppliers out there so you don't necessarily have to go with one of the 'big six'.
Priority service register
If you are of pensionable age living with a disability or chronic illness, or with a visual or hearing impairment, you can contact your energy supplier and request that your name be added to the Priority Service Register.

If you switch energy supplier you will need to inform your new supplier that you are on the Priority Service Register (this information is not passed between energy suppliers).

Joining the Priority Service Register can entitle you to the following free services:

  • Gas appliance and installation safeties check (where everyone in the household is eligible for the PSR).
  • Quarterly meter readings
  • Help in moving a meter if it is in an inconvenient position
  • A personal password system for gas and electricity staff to use every time they call at the person's home, to confirm they are genuine
  • Help if they have difficulty in using certain appliances
  • Their bills can be sent to a friend or family member on their behalf
  • Bills can be supplied in different formats, such as large print or Braille, by cassette or in a different language.
  • If you want to join the Priority Service Register contact your supplier directly or register by phoning the Energywatch helpline on 08459 06 07 08.

Winter fuel payments
You could get between £100 and £300 tax-free to help pay your heating bills if you were born on or before 5 July 1952 (winter 2014 to 2015 - this date changes every year). This is known as a 'Winter Fuel Payment'.

Most payments are made automatically between November and December. You should get your money by Christmas.

You should get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you get the State Pension or another social security benefit (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction or Child Benefit).

If you qualify but don't get paid automatically, you'll need to make a claim.

To apply for the Winter Fuel Payment complete a form and return it to:

Winter Fuel Payment Team
Department for Work and Pensions
PO Box 10142
NG15 5WY
Cold weather payment
You don't need to apply for Cold Weather Payments; if you're eligible you will receive the payment automatically. You'll get a payment of around £25 (paid into the same bank or building society account as your benefit payments) for each 7 day period, of very cold weather, between 1 November and 31 March.

Payments will be made when your local temperature is either recorded as, or forecast to be, an average of zero degrees Celsius or below over 7 consecutive days.

Tell your Pension Centre or Job Centre Plus if you think you should have received a Cold Weather Payment but you haven't had one.

To find out more about Cold Weather Payments visit www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment.
WaterSure Wales
If yours is a low income household and you have a large family, or a family member with a medical condition that requires the use of a significant amount of extra water, you may qualify for reduced charges through Water Sure Wales. You can apply for WaterSure Wales if you are a measured or unmeasured customer.

To be considered you/someone in your household MUST receive a qualifying benefit/tax credit:

  • Income Support
  • Income Related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Based Job Seeker's Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (except families in receipt of the family element only)
  • Universal Credit
  • AND have a medical condition that requires the use of a SIGNIFICANT amount of extra water (application must be validated by a medical practitioner)
  • OR have 3 or more children under the age of 19, living at your house who you claim Child Benefit for.

Please note: you do not qualify for Water Sure Wales if you water your garden with a non-handheld appliance such as a sprinkler or domestic irrigation system, or if you have a swimming pool or pond with a capacity of over 10,000 litres.

If you would like help to apply for the WaterSure Wales Tariff you can call into the Advice hub and one of our friendly advisors will help you to fill in the relevant form.

Alternatively you can apply to WaterSure Wales through their website www.dwrcymru.com or Call 0800 052 0145
Welsh Water additional services register
If you are older, disabled or have learning difficulties or ill health you may qualify for the Additional Services Register.

If you have a medical condition that requires a constant supply of water, Welsh Water will provide you with an alternative supply during emergency interruptions.

Making your home more energy efficient

Energy Efficiency Schemes:

Nest is the Welsh Government's fuel poverty scheme which aims to help people in Wales reduce the impact of their fuel bills. Nest offers a range of advice through expert partners, as well as a full home energy assessment and home improvements for the least energy efficient homes - at no cost to the householder.

Nest is designed to help you lower the cost of your energy bills and make your home warmer.

To qualify for Nest:

You must own or privately rent your home AND be in receipt of one or more of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Child Tax Credit: household money coming in is below £15860 a year
  • Council Tax Benefit Award/Council Tax Reduction from 01/04/2013 onwards
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit, Savings or Guaranteed element
  • Working Tax Credit: Household money coming in is below £155860 a year

Nest can help you to improve the energy rating of your property from an F or G energy rating to a C or D energy rating. Improvements available for eligible households include:

  • New Central Heating systems
  • Renewable Energy generation systems
  • Solid Wall insulation
  • Traditional insulation i.e. loft or cavity wall Insulation
  • Energy Saving devices

Nest also offer free, impartial help and advice to make sure you're on the right fuel tariff. Nest can direct you to other energy efficiency schemes, across Wales that offer home improvements at no cost or low cost to you - no matter what your income.

Call into the Cardiff Advice Hub to find out more. Alternatively you can contact Nest (free from landlines and mobile phones) on 0808 808 2244 or visit www.nestwales.org.uk.
Green Deal
Green Deal is a new government initiative to encourage property owners, tenants and businesses to carry out energy improvement works on their home.

Green Deal finance is a mechanism to help finance energy efficient home improvements, without having to pay for the costs up front. To qualify for the Green Deal you must pass the 'Golden Rule':

'Repayments of the loan must be less than or equal to the savings, works done to your home must pay for themselves through the savings made on your future energy bills.'

The scheme covers a wide range of improvements; everything from simple measures, such as draught-proofing, loft insulation & heating controls, right through to more expensive/advanced measures including A-rated boilers, energy efficient glazing, internal and/or external wall insulation, solar panels, heat-pumps, etc.

You pay back the cost of the improvements over time through your electricity bill. The amount you pay back will be no more than a typical household will save on heating bills, so you are likely to be better off overall from day one.
Interest will be charged on these payments, but the rate will be fixed and you will be shown a full schedule of all the payments before you sign up to the plan. It is up to the Green Deal Providers to decide on the interest rate, so it will be worth shopping around to find the best deal.

Green Deal finance is designed to help people who don't have the money to spend upfront on home improvements. The term of the loan can run up to 25 years, which means the interest costs can mount up.

If you can afford to pay upfront for Green Deal home improvements, you can finance the improvements and avoid interest costs. You don't have to use the Green Deal finance to take advantage of the scheme. However you will still need a Green Deal Assessment and the improvements must be met through a Green Deal provider.

How do I apply for a Green Deal?
The first step is to have an assessment carried out on your property. A Green Deal assessor or provider can arrange this for you.

Approved green deal assessors can be found at www.greendealorb.co.uk or you can call the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234.

Can customers on pre-payment meters take out a Green Deal Plan?
Yes. However, the current design of prepayment meters does not allow for the collection of the Green Deal payment as a standing charge, therefore the charge will be collected in the same way as arrears are collected.

Can customers that take out a Green Deal Plan still switch energy supplier?
Yes, providing that the new supplier is participating in the Green Deal payment collection mechanism.

Something to consider!
The loan is repaid through the savings you make on your energy bill; therefore the loan stays with the property. If you are selling a home with a Green Deal attached this could put some buyers off.

If your circumstances change over time, such as the number of people living in your home, you may end up paying more.
Smart meters
A smart meter is a gas/electricity meter that records energy usage based on near real time information. You can view this information on your in-home display screen.

Benefits of a Smart Meter:

  • The near real time information update (expressed in pounds and pence) allows you to monitor your usage and therefore more effectively manage your energy usage, save money and reduce emissions.
  • No more estimated billing! You will only be billed for the energy you actually use, which can allow you to better manage your money.
  • Due to the accurate energy usage data it can be easier to compare tariffs, making it easier to switch energy providers.
  • More flexible in terms of payment methods. Prepayment customers may have the option to top up their meters via telephone or the internet.
  • Prepayment customers may be able to regulate what happens when their meters are running low; to ensure that they are not left without energy at any point.

Am I required to have a smart meter?
Most households will have a smart meter installed by their energy company between 2014 and 2019, although some energy companies are starting to install smart meters now. For more information on getting a smart meter now, contact the energy company directly.
Cheaper energy together
Collective Switching brings groups of consumers together to buy gas and electricity in bulk. Collective Switching harnesses group power to bargain a better deal.

Anyone from any location in the UK can join an energy switching collective as long as they don't hold over £500 of debt with their current energy provider.

Barriers faced for a Collective Switch
There can be many different barriers for a 3rd party or a Local Authority to get a successful Collective Switch. These barriers can include the following:

  • From registering, it can take a couple of months before the registration and bidding period has ended, therefore it can take time to get a Collective Switching result. Some people will feel they need to change quicker e.g. unable to afford current bill and don't want to get into debt (or further debt) with their current energy provider.
  • The time of year can have an impact on the amount of people joining the collective switch. Fewer people worry about energy bills in the 'summer' time. A Collective Switch has better bargaining power the more members it has.

Help Clearing Debt and Paying Existing Bills

Energy Saving Trust
The Energy Saving Trust Foundation gives impartial, accurate and independent advice to communities and households on how to reduce carbon emissions, how to use water more sustainably and how to save money on energy bills.

The Energy Savings Trust works in partnership with businesses, local authorities, housing associations, charities and other organisations.

The Energy Saving Trust Foundation works to certificate and assure consumer goods and businesses to help customers get the best deal or product. Look out for products sporting the 'Energy Saving Trust Recommended' sticker.

They also provide advice to help you find grants, reduce your carbon foot print and improve your home.

Visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/wales for more information. Or call the free helpline on 0800 512 012 for independent advice on how to save money in your home.
British Gas Energy Trust
The British Gas Energy Trust is an independent Charitable Trust established in 2004. The Trust contributes to the relief of poverty, with a particular focus on fuel poverty and helping those who are struggling to pay for their consumption of gas and electricity.

The Trust provides a significant difference to the lives of those in need by awarding grants to clear energy and other household debts and for essential household items. The Trust also funds voluntary sector organisations to provide money and fuel debt services.

The Trust can offer help via Further Assistance Payments to clear priority household debts or purchase essential household items.

If you wish to find out more about applying for a grant through the British Gas Energy Trust please call 01733 421 060.

The online application process can be complicated and requires a full grasp of your situation, if you would like help to apply please visit the Cardiff Advice Hub. Alternatively you can complete the online application process by visiting www.britishgasenergytrust.org.uk.

British Gas Energy Trust
British Gas Energy Trust
PO Box 42

Tel: 01733 421060
Fax: 01733 421020
Email: bget@charisgrants.com
EDF Energy Trust
The EDF Energy Trust is an independent Charitable Trust established in 2003. The Trust contributes to the relief of poverty, with a particular focus on fuel poverty and helping those who are struggling to pay for their consumption of gas and electricity.

The Trust provides a significant difference to the lives of those in need by awarding grants to clear energy and other household debts and for essential household items. The Trust also funds voluntary sector organisations to provide money and fuel debt services.

If you wish to find out more about applying for a grant through the EDF Energy Trust please call 01733421020. If you would like help to apply for the EDF Energy Trust please visit the Cardiff Advice Hub.

Alternatively you can complete the online application process by visiting www.edfenergytrust.org.uk
EDF Energy Trust
EDF Energy Trust
PO Box 42

Tel: 01733 421060
Fax: 01733 421020
Email: edfet@charisgrants.com
Online application form: edfet.app.charisgrants.com
Npower Energy Trust
The Npower Energy Fund offers grants to domestic customers of npower to clear gas and/or electricity arrears.
Grants are awarded to allow customers of npower to take control of their finances by clearing their household energy debts and helping them meet their future bills.

The Fund operates a three month Provisional Award Scheme. This means that in order to receive an award, an applicant must first demonstrate their commitment to achieving financial sustainability by making payments for their current usage. Following notification of a provisional award the applicant will need to contact npower to agree an affordable payment scheme, discuss the tariffs available and any other energy efficiency advice and support required. In the three months following an offer of an award, the client must make regular payments covering their usage. Whilst they do this, any debt they have is suspended.

If they make sufficient payments, the award is confirmed and the debt is cleared. BUT if the client makes insufficient payments, the award is withdrawn and the debt, together with any further arrears accrued over the three months remains.

Npower Energy Trust
Npower Energy Trust
PO Box 42

Tel: 01733 421060
Fax: 01733 421020
Email: npet@charisgrants.com
Online application form: npet.app.charisgrants.com
Website: www.npowerenergytrust.org.uk
E.ON CaringEnergy
E.ON CaringEnergy can offer free and discounted energy saving home improvements to help vulnerable customers achieve affordable warmth in their homes.

The CaringEnergy Fund is available to help existing E.ON customers become more energy efficient. The money can be used to help replace old or inefficient kitchen appliances.

For more information about the CaringEnergy criteria contact E.ON directly.

You may be entitled to FREE insulation:
If you're a homeowner and claim pension credit or child tax credits, or have a low income, you could be entitled to free cavity wall and loft insulation. The CaringEnergy team will be able to advise you.

E-on Caring Energy
Tel: 0800 051 1480
Visit www.eonenergy.com for guidance.
Welsh Water customer assistance fund
If you are experiencing severe financial hardship and are unable to pay your water charges, you may be able to receive support.

The Welsh Water Customer Assistance Fund is for domestic customers who are in water arrears. It can help customers to reduce their debt and manage their ongoing payments to Welsh Water. You do not need to be claiming benefits to apply to the Welsh Water Customer Assistance Fund.
If you have arrears of £150 or more, are unable to clear outstanding arrears and charges within 3 years AND have not had an award from the fund previously, you may qualify for this scheme.

If you are accepted onto the Welsh Water Customer Assistance Fund you will be required to make regular payments for 26 weeks, towards your current years' water charge. If you are successfully paying your bill, for the specified 26 weeks, Welsh Water would reduce your arrears by half and you would progress to stage 2 of the fund.

Stage 2 requires you to pay a further 26 weeks payments towards your current years' water charge. If you are successfully paying your bill, for this further 26 weeks, Welsh Water would clear the remaining arrears on your bill.

To apply for the Welsh Water Assistance Fund visit the Cardiff Advice Hub, one of our friendly advisors can help you to complete the required forms.
Fuel Direct
Benefit customers should normally meet their household expenses from their income, like everyone else. But in some cases, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can deduct money straight from a customer's benefit to clear debts. These are called 'third party deductions'.

The third party deduction scheme is for a vulnerable minority of benefit customers who have got arrears of essential household costs and haven't budgeted for their debts. Their party deductions are only used if there's no other away to clear the debts without putting the welfare of the customer or their family at risk.

The main use of third party deduction is as a last-resort protection for vulnerable customers in debt. By helping people with debt management, it helps them become more responsible with their finances. Third party deductions are only made where it is in the interest of the individual or family - to avoid the severe hardship caused by eviction or disconnection of utilities, and preventing imprisonment for the non-payment of Council Tax or fines.

Fuel FAQs

I'm having trouble paying my fuel bill, what help is available?
If you're behind with your payments of gas or electricity, contact your fuel supplier straight away.

Your fuel supplier must offer you an arrangement to pay off the arrears at a rate you can afford. Your supplier must offer you a method of payment which is the most suitable for you and they must take into account your ability to pay. If you are receiving benefits it might be worth considering Fuel Direct payments as a last resort.

You may be able to arrange to pay off your arrears in monthly instalments. This is called a payment plan. If you're facing disconnection, or haven't been able to keep to a payment plan, your fuel supplier may offer to install a prepayment meter. A prepayment meter will allow you to pay a fixed amount off your arrears at the same time as paying for the fuel you're currently using.

You may be able to get a grant to help you pay for fuel arrears as well as some other household bills. To find out more read Help Clearing Debt and Paying Existing Bills (Link to paragraph 3)

If you are on a low income or considered to be vulnerable, you may be able to pay a reduced-rate tariff from your fuel supplier. This is known as a 'social tariff' or 'Warm Home Discount'. Find out if your fuel supplier offers 'social tariffs' or 'Warm Home Discounts' by contacting them directly. To find out more read Warm Home Discount.

If you are struggling to pay your water bill you should contact your supplier straight away. Much as your energy supplier, your water supplier should offer you an arrangement to pay off the arrears at a rate you can afford.

Your supplier must offer you a method of payment which is the most suitable for you and they must take into account your ability to pay. Ask your supplier what help they can provide to reduce your future bills.
For more information read Welsh Water Assist tariff and Welsh Water Customer Assistance Fund

There are many schemes available to help you reduce the cost of your energy bill, by improving the efficiency of your home:

Green Deal
Affordable Warmth Obligation
Energy Saving Tips
Can my fuel supplier disconnect me?
If you don't pay your bill within 28 days from the date of the bill, you risk getting disconnected. Some suppliers may start to take action to disconnect you as early as ten working days from the date on your bill.

However, your fuel supplier can't cut you off without sending you a disconnection notice first.
In practice, it's unlikely you'll be disconnected, as long as you can pay for your fuel and agree to pay something off towards your arrears.

If you can't pay your bill, contact your supplier straight away. You should be offered an arrangement to pay off the arrears at a rate you can afford. If you can't afford to pay off the arrears in this way and you want to keep your gas or electricity supply, you may have to accept the instalment of a prepayment meter.

A prepayment meter will allow you to pay a fixed amount off your arrears at the same time as paying for the fuel you're currently using.

Some groups of customers may have extra protection Priority Service Register.
How can I make a complaint about my energy supplier?
This information applies to England, Wales and Scotland:

If you have a complaint about your fuel supplier, you should first take this up with your supplier.

Your supplier must have a procedure for dealing with complaints. You should be able to get a copy of this procedure from your supplier's website.

You can complain by phone, in person or in writing - including by email.

If your supplier is unable to sort your complaint out to your satisfaction, they must tell you this in writing. This is called a letter of deadlock. Once you have been sent a letter of deadlock, if you want to take the complaint further, you can contact the Ombudsman Services: Energy.

If you have not been sent a letter of deadlock, you must wait at least eight weeks before you can contact the Ombudsman Services: Energy www.ombudsman-services.org/energy.html.
Who can't switch supplier?
The majority of people have no problem switching supplier, but you may have problems switching if:

  • You are in debt to your supplier, that is you have not paid your bill at least 28 days after receiving it
  • You have a special meter or tariff that other suppliers cannot support

However, if you have an outstanding balance with a supplier, you may still be able to switch if:

  • You pay for your energy in advance via a prepayment meter and have a debt of less than £500
  • Your supplier has increased its prices and you have said you want to switch and are able to pay off your outstanding balance within 30 days
  • You have an outstanding balance because your supplier has made a mistake

It is worth checking if there is a cancellation charge if you want to end your contract early.

If you are having a problem, you should call your supplier. If your supplier can't resolve your issue you can call the Citizens Advice consumer service 0845 404 0506.
How and when should I be notified of price changes by my supplier?
Your supplier has to give you 30 calendar days advance notice if it is going to raise its prices.

If you know your supplier is going to increase prices, you can decide to switch to another supplier with cheaper prices. You will not be charged to leave your contract early under these circumstances, providing you let your supplier know you wish to switch before the price change takes effect. Your new supplier must contact your old supplier within 15 working days after you have notified them of your intention to switch. You will continue to be billed at the old prices until your switch is completed.
What is Cardiff Council doing to combat fuel poverty?
Cardiff Council is committed to ending fuel poverty in Cardiff and ensuring that everyone has the ability to live in affordable warmth. We are currently developing an Affordable Warmth Strategy in partnership with National Energy Action. Visit www.nea.org.uk for more information. This strategy will act as a guide and ensure that the work the council and other organisations do will reduce the amount of people who suffer from fuel poverty.