You don’t have to make a choice between minimising your energy bills or keeping your home warm during the colder months. The Warm Home Discount scheme caters to pensioners and low-income households by offering a £140 discount on your energy bill. It was introduced to help reduce energy costs and tackle fuel poverty among pensioners and low-income households. This guide will explore the ins and outs of the government programme, outlining how to check your eligibility and how to apply for the Warm Home Discount scheme.
In this guide:
What is the Warm Home Discount?
How is the Warm Home Discount structured?
Does my energy supplier offer the Warm Home Discount?
Can I receive the Warm Home Discount on a prepayment meter?
Am I eligible for the Warm Home Discount Scheme?
How do I apply for Warm Home Discount funds?
Additional forms of winter heating allowance and assistance for fuel costs
Learn more about the winter heating allowance
The government’s Warm Home Discount scheme is designed to assist those in need by reducing energy costs during the winter months – when more fuel is used to keep your home warm. It replaced the Social Tariff scheme to assist households who are financially vulnerable, or those who may otherwise need assistance with energy payments during winter.
The discount is administered by industry regulator Ofgem alongside the government’s Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and is provided by your energy supplier.
The Warm Home Discount is paid as a £140 rebate into the energy accounts of those who qualify by 31st March each year. While the scheme is designed primarily for electricity, in some cases it can be used to offset gas bills should your supplier handle both gas and electricity.
There are three eligibility categories for accessing the scheme:
This group is reserved for fuel-poor pensioners who receive the Pension Credit Guarantee. The Department of Work and Pensions liaises with energy suppliers to determine who is eligible within this category. Core Group members receive the rebate automatically – no application required.
The eligibility criteria for the Broader Group varies according to each individual energy supplier. It’s designed to meet the needs of those considered to be at risk of fuel poverty, and funds are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. These funds are usually restricted to low-income households with young children.
The third – and final – category in the Warm Home grant allows suppliers to indirectly assist fuel-poor customers through third parties: for example, helping to reduce customer debts and offering energy saving advice.
Currently, any energy supplier with more than 150,000 domestic customers is required to participate in the Core Group initiative, while those with over 250,000 domestic customers must provide the Warm Home Discount to both Core and Broader Groups. While participation in the scheme is not mandatory for smaller energy suppliers, they can do so on a voluntary basis.
Many suppliers provide clear advice on how they administer the Warm Home Discount scheme. Click here for details of the British Gas Warm Home Discount, here for E.ON’s Warm Home Discount page, and here for the Utilita Warm Home Discount page, for example. If you’re unsure about your energy supplier’s participation in the scheme, it’s best to contact it directly and enquire.
The scheme is currently in the process of being renewed for 2021-22. A recent consultation paper suggests it will remain unchanged ahead of the 1 October 2021 opening date for applications.
Households using prepayment meters qualify for the discount. In this case, rather than receiving a rebate after payment, you would instead receive a voucher that can be used to top up your meter going forward, as the winter energy payments are made in advance.
Those park home residents who live permanently in a park home and pay their electricity to their park site owner would need to apply to the Park Homes Warm Home Discount scheme. Sadly, the 2020-21 scheme has already closed due to popular demand. Leave your details on the website to be informed when the scheme opens next October.
Those in park homes with a mains supply electricity should contact their energy supplier directly.
Those who received the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit on 5 July 2020 would have been automatically eligible for the discount between 2020 and 2021. These individuals fall into the aforementioned ‘Core Group’ category. Those who did not receive Guarantee Credit but may still need assistance would comprise the ‘Broader Group’ category of the scheme – you will need to contact your energy supplier between October 2020 and March 2021 to find out whether you (a) qualify, and (b) if there are still spaces available.
How you apply for Warm Home Discount funds depends on which category of the scheme you fall into. To apply for the discount, you must first make sure of the following:
Your energy supplier participates in the scheme
Your (or your partner’s) name appears on the energy bills
There are also some cases where applications for the Warm Home Discount won’t be necessary, which we’ll outline below.
If you qualify as part of the Core Group, you shouldn’t need to do anything to apply for the scheme – you should receive a confirmation letter in the post prior to its commencement. This letter outlines how to confirm your details, which is typically done by calling a helpline, after which the discount will be automatically applied by your energy supplier if it’s part of the scheme.
If you didn’t receive a confirmation letter but you believe you are eligible under the Core Group category, you can contact the Warm Home Discount Team using the information below:
Telephone: 0800 731 0214 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm. Charges may apply)
Warm Home Discount Team
Blue Zone, Ground Floor Phase 1
Peel Park, Brunel Way
In contrast to the Core Group, if you think you qualify for your supplier’s Broader Group, you’ll need to make a claim to be considered. Applications open between October and December, and there are a limited number of spaces, so it’s important to apply as early as possible. Each supplier will have its own criteria for eligibility, and its own application process. Like the Core Group, all approved rebates will be added to your energy account by 31 March 2021.
The most universal form of benefit for consumers is Ofgem’s energy price cap, which since 2017 has applied to both standard and prepayment variable contracts. Designed to ensure energy suppliers offer fair pricing even on their most expensive tariffs, this price protection is said to benefit an estimated 11 million consumers through savings on their energy bills. Caps are applied throughout the year, with the cap set twice annually in February and August, coming into effect in April and October, respectively. The cap is applied not to your total bill, but rather to the per-unit (kWh) rate you are charged.
There are also additional programmes in place to offer financial assistance to fuel-poor households who may not be eligible for the Warm Home Discount:
Energy Efficiency Grants
Another way to make your home more efficient is through improved insulation, and there are government grants available to assist you in achieving this. These grants are not just for the winter months – they can save you money on energy throughout the year.
Winter Fuel Payment
To qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment, you will usually need to be of pensionable age and on certain forms of benefits or income support. This grant is also designed to help vulnerable households to pay for their increased energy consumption over the winter months. This pays between £100 and £300 tax-free, and qualifying criteria includes being born on or before 5 April 1954 and have lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 21-27 September 2020.
Cold Weather Payment
Any time temperatures fall below 0°C for a prolonged period, households on other low-income benefits may receive government assistance. This would equate to £25 per any 7-day period of sub-zero weather between 1 November and 31 March.
You can contact your energy supplier directly to get more specific information about its participation in the scheme. If your energy supplier is not currently participating but you feel you would qualify for the discount, it may be time to consider switching to a different supplier.
Last updated: 21 December 2020