It’s possible you could get financial support for your energy bills during periods of extreme cold. Let’s look together at what the Cold Weather Payment is, whether you’re eligible and how else you can reduce your gas and electricity costs in the winter.
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When it’s bitterly cold, many of us find it difficult to keep up with our heating bills. We might even sacrifice being warm in order to save money, which particularly affects the more vulnerable members of our community. In recognition of these challenges, the government introduced the Cold Weather Payment: a grant to help with the additional heating costs that incur from those really cold snaps. But just how cold is really cold?
To warrant the Cold Weather Payment, the temperature must average below 0 degrees Celsius for at least seven consecutive days – by forecast or by actuality. The scheme is active between 1st November and 31st March (well, we’d rightly hope we’re not hitting sub-zero outside of this period, else we’d be packing our suitcases!).
If you qualify for Cold Weather Payments, you’ll receive £25 in total for each seven-day period. How far this will go to help your energy bills will depend on your tariff, but if you think this will barely make a dent then it’s likely you’re not getting the best energy deal with your supplier. You can run an energy comparison with us to see what alternative tariffs are available.
If you receive any of the following benefits then you may well be eligible for the Cold Weather Payment:
However, you should head over to the government website for a comprehensive list of conditions and exclusions in order to be certain you qualify.
Good news! If you qualify for the Cold Weather Payment, then you’ll automatically receive it. Payment will be made to the same account that you receive your benefit – so don’t worry, there are no complicated and disheartening application forms involved!
Usually your Cold Weather Payment will appear in your bank account two weeks after The Big Freeze (or in less dramatic terms, the period of extremely cold weather). There are a few key bodies to contact in the event you haven’t received your Cold Weather Payment. If you’re receiving Universal Credit, you can login to your account online and add a message there. Alternatively, you can contact their helpline. If you receive other benefits, notify your Jobcentre Plus Office or contact your pension centre and let them know.
It’s important to not confuse Cold Weather Payments with Winter Fuel Payments, although it’s possible you could receive both forms of financial support. The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual sum of between £100 and £300, made as a one-off payment to help with the overall additional costs of energy bills in the winter months. As it’s available to those born on or before 5th October 1954, it’s predominantly offered to support the elderly.
Cutting back on energy bills may seem like an impossible task, but with a few tricks it’s certainly possible to save on electricity and gas. Try investing in some proper insulation for your loft or upgrade your windows with double glazing. At the more budget-friendly end of the scale, opting for thick curtains as well as purchasing draught blockers will help keep the heat in.
When you’re not heating your home, you can still save on energy consumption. You should make sure you always turn off appliances rather than leaving them on standby. Furthermore, try washing your clothes on a lower temperature, which also is much better for the environment, too!
While it’s great to make practical adjustments to consume less energy, the best way to save on your bills is to switch to a new supplier. If your contract is up for renewal, then make sure you run an energy comparison to see what deals are on the market; if you’re on a variable-rate tariff then usually you can switch at any time.
You can compare energy deals with us here at Simply Switch. Just pop in your postcode and we’ll show you what cheap energy tariffs are available to you – it couldn’t be simpler!