Energy and Bills

Assistance from Energy Providers

If you're in debt to your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant from a charitable trust to help pay it off.

The British Gas Energy Trust offers grants and schemes that are open to anyone - you don't have to be a customer. You can claim up to £1,500 towards fuel debt if you meet the criteria.

There are also companies who offer grants specifically for their customers:

  • Scottish Power Hardship Fund - this fund is aimed at customers on certain benefits who are struggling with fuel debt.
  • Ovo Debt and energy assistance - also available to customers of SSE Energy Services or Boost. The fund can provide free or discounted products and services, such as smart thermostats, electric throws and boiler servicing.
  • E.on Energy Fund - funding is available for those most in need.
  • EDF Energy Customer Support Fund - vulnerable customers who are with EDF could be eligible for help with electricity and gas debts, or provide essential white goods such as a fridge or cooker. You can contact them via their website or call 0800 269 450.
  • Octopus Energy - the Octo Assist fund is also open to customers of Affect Energy, Co-operative Energy, Ebico Living, London Power and M&S Energy.
  • Shell Energy - potential funding is available for people unable to meet their fuel costs. You can also call them on 0330 094 5800.
  • Utility Warehouse - the customer support scheme aims to help customer who may be experiencing or at risk of fuel poverty. You can call them on 0333 777 0777

When you apply for a grant, you'll have to provide detailed information about your financial situation in your application. It could take a while to complete, and it might be worth getting help from a friend or family member. You can also talk to an advisor for help to fill in forms.

Before you apply

Charitable trusts like you to show that you have received debt advice before you apply. Debt advice can help you manage your debts and increase your chances of making a successful application.

Energy Advice and Support

Citizens Advice offer a full energy assessment including:

  • looking at tariffs,
  • energy discounts,
  • assisting with energy billing/account issues,
  • energy efficiency advice,
  • liaising with RSL landlords with property issues; and
  • signposting for energy efficiency improvements.

LEAP offers a free energy advice service.

South Dartmoor Community Energy may be able to provide fuel vouchers for households experiencing fuel poverty. 

Devon Communities Together is able to provide support to individuals who are struggling with fuel bills and heating their homes this winter.

Government Assistance

The Warm Home Discount Scheme is a Government scheme that obligates the largest energy suppliers to credit a £140 discount onto the electricity bills of certain low income households.

The Cold Weather Payment is intended to help you pay for extra heating costs when it's very cold. You'll get a payment each time the temperature drops below a specific temperature for a set period.

If you were born on or before 26 September 1955 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a 'Winter Fuel Payment'. You will get your Winter Fuel Payment automatically (you do not need to claim) if you're eligible. Call 0800 731 0160 to find out more.

Other Help for Bills

South West Water have schemes to help some people with their water bills. To apply, you must be receiving benefits and need to use a lot of water for either medical reasons or because your household has a number of school-age children.

Social Broadband and Phone Tariffs can provide a safety net for customers who might be struggling to afford their broadband or phone services. Ofgem have produced a list of broadband and mobile services which you may be eligible for.

Vulnerable households can join the Western Power Priority Services Register to get extra support. This is a free service for anyone who is of pensionable age, disabled, has children under 5 years old or relies on medical equipment.

Citizens Advice Devon is managing an Energy Relief Scheme for those using pre-payment meters and who are struggling to meet their energy needs. This is being funded by the Household Support Fund.

Dogs Trust is offering a discounted service for dog training for those struggling with the cost of living.

AgeUK can provide advice for older people on preparing for winter.

Turn2us is a national charity providing practical support to people struggling financially.

Living Options Devon have funding available to help with food, fuel and white goods for people with a disability or long term health condition. You can contact them directly on 01392 459 222.

Energy Saving Tips

We've put together a few hints and tips about easy ways to save energy (and money) around your home.

There's lots more information available online from a huge range of sources - including Money Saving Expert and the Energy Saving Trust. You can also request a free energy assessment from South Dartmoor Community Energy.

1. Know how much your appliances cost to run.

Money Saving Expert has a good 'rule of thumb' - find the wattage of an appliance (it should be on the label). Current costs are about 34p per kilowatt (1,000 watts) per hour. So a lamp with a wattage of 100 watts would be one tenth of a kilowatt per hour - or 3.4p.

The table below gives you the costs of some typical appliances. Please note these prices are based on the October 2022 price guarantee of 34p per kilowatt hour.

Appliance Cost per hour
Tumble dryer (3,000 watts) £1.02
Oven (2,000 watts) 68p
Kettle (1,800 watts) 61p
Electric hob (1,700 watts) 58p
Dishwasher (1,200 watts) 41p
TV (30 watts) 1.02p
Light bulb (10 watts) 0.34p
Washing machine (700 watts) 24p
Slow cooker (225 watts) 8p

2. Fill up your washing machine.

Try and do one less load of washing per week, and make sure you fill the machine each time. You could also try washing at a lower temperature - 30 ºC is fine for everyday washing - save 40 ºC and higher for tough stains.

3. Tumble driers - avoid!

Tumble driers are one of the most expensive appliances to run - up to £1 to run for an hour, with most cycles being 90 minutes at least. Drying clothes on an airer (with a window open to avoid damp) or outside can save a significant amount. There's also the added bonus that you're less likely to shrink your favourite pair of jeans and end up paying to replace those too!

4. Change your light bulbs

LED lights use about half the energy of the fluorescent spiral-style lights, and last longer too. There's an initial cost to buy them, but you'll soon recoup that. Swapping 50 watt halogen bulbs to LEDs could save up to £6 per bulb per year - so if you have 20 bulbs in your home that's a saving of £120 per year.

5. Investigate Slow Cookers and Air Fryers

These appliances are a great way to save money and energy on your cooking. A slow cooker can make a delicious stew or Bolognese in a few hours for just 24p (for three hours), whereas a fan oven will cost 58p in just one hour.

Air fryers are actually more of a tiny oven than a fryer - they cook food by circulating hot air in a small space, which speeds up cooking time. They can be expensive to buy, but many people report that they are noticing savings using them.

6. Phone charging tips

Hands up if you plug your switched-on phone in at bedtime to charge and leave it on all night? Most mobile phones charge fully in three hours, so if you're leaving it plugged in for seven or more you're wasting energy. 

Try and top your phone up throughout the day instead, and turn it off while it's charging - it will charge a lot faster.

For nearly fifty more energy-saving tips, check out the Money Saving Expert Guide.