Energy companies provide a huge amount of help and support for vulnerable customers, especially the elderly and those on key benefits.
They do this through schemes that offer free cavity wall and loft insulation, by giving access to trust funds and a priority register for people with disabilities. Under the Warm Homes Discount initiative, energy companies will spend around £1.1billion over four years to help their most vulnerable customers.
In 2004 the six leading energy companies signed up to a voluntary scheme called the Disconnection Safety Net. This scheme makes sure that no vulnerable customer is deliberately cut off, even if they can't pay their bill. Find out more information about disconnection.
Anyone who is worried about paying their bill or managing their energy use should contact their energy company. There is also other help available:
The Home Heat Helpline (0800 33 66 99) advises energy customers in Britain who are struggling to pay their fuel bill and keep warm. The helpline gives access to Britain's biggest free insulation programme, the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target. Find out more about the Home Heat Helpline.
The UK and devolved national governments provide help to customers worried about how they will heat their home when it gets cold.
Current help includes:
Winter Fuel Payment - if you have reached the qualifying age you may get help with keeping warm in winter. For winter 2011/12 this can be between £100 and £300 depending on your situation. Find out how to apply for Winter Fuel Payments.
Cold Weather Payments - one-off payments worth £25 for the over 60s and £100 for the over 80s are paid automatically in severe weather conditions. This is when the temperature goes below zero for seven days in a row. Find out more about Cold Weather Payments.
Warm Front (England) - heat and insulation grants are available for privately owned or rented homes to people on certain benefits, low-income households with children under 16 and pensioner households. Grants range from £3,500 up to £6,000. More information on Warm Front grants is available at Warm Front's website.
Energy Assistance Package (Scotland) - the scheme helps customers cut bills, maximise incomes and improve their home's energy efficiency. For more information see the Energy Assistance Package website.
Nest (Wales) - the scheme gives free help and advice about benefits, making sure customers are on the right fuel tariff, managing money, and schemes across Wales that offer home improvements at no cost or low cost to customers. Find out more about the Nest scheme at their website.
Warm Homes Scheme and Warm Homes Plus (Northern Ireland): - £850 grants are available for energy efficiency and heating measures to pensioners, disabled people and low-income home owners claiming certain benefits. The scheme gives grants of up to £4,300 for pensioners and low-income households claiming certain benefits to help with the costs of installing new heating systems. Find out more about the scheme at the Warm Homes Scheme website.
Warm Home Discount: In April 2011 the Government introduced a new scheme that will be funded by energy companies, called the Warm Home Discount. It is aimed towards pensioners and vulnerable customers, and provides an automatic discount off their energy bill. Find out more about the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
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