Types of energy meters – what different types of meter can I get?
Information on smart meters and prepayment meters.
With the cost of living having an impact on everyone's energy bills, understanding what help is available and which cost of living payments you're eligible for may help ease some of your worry.
If you're finding it hard to keep up with energy price increases this winter, you might be entitled to financial support.
This is a one-off payment to help with the cost of energy over winter. It's usually added as credit to your electricity bill. This winter (2023-24), it'll be £150. You're entitled to this if you or your partner receive the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit or if you're on certain qualifying benefits and have high energy costs.
You could be entitled to an annual one-off payment of £100-£300 depending on how old you are, who you live with and any benefits you receive. This year (2023-24), eligible households will get an extra £300 top-up to help with the cost of living. There's more information about this below.
If you're over State Pension age – which is currently 66 years old – and receive the State Pension then you should be paid automatically. Payments are usually made between November and December.
If you're not currently claiming means-tested benefits, such as Pension Credit, it's worth putting in a claim as soon as possible.
When making a claim, you should request backdating on the claim form as it won't be done automatically. It's important to act quickly as Pension Credit can only be backdated for up to 3 months.
If you want to know more, use our online benefits calculator or call the Age UK advice line on 0800 678 1602.
Certain households may be eligible to get help from the Government to pay their energy bills.
This year (2023-24), you may also be entitled to one or more lump-sum payments. These are:
The qualifying means-tested benefits for the Cost of Living Payments are:
Exact payment windows are announced closer to the time but are being spread across a longer period to ensure a consistent support offering throughout the year. They are broadly as follows:
To be eligible for the First Cost of Living Payment (during Spring 2023), you must have been entitled to a qualifying means-tested benefit between 26 January and 25 February 2023.
To be eligible for the Disability Cost of Living Payment, you need to have been on a qualifying disability benefit on 1 April 2023. Qualifying benefits include Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance.
To be eligible for the Second Cost of Living payment (during Autumn 2023), you must have been entitled to a qualifying means-tested benefit between 18 August and 17 September 2023. If you qualify, you should receive the £300 payment automatically between 31 October and 19 November 2023. But if your qualifying benefit is Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit, you may receive the payment later on in this window (between 10 and 19 November 2023).
You can report a missing Cost of Living Payment online on GOV.UK or by calling the helpline for your qualifying benefit.
This is a payment to help those considered most in need with the rising cost of food, gas and electric, and water bills. Each local council decide their own eligibility criteria – though money should be specifically set aside for older people. Contact your council if you want to know more.
If you're eligible for any of the payments listed above you'll be paid automatically, in most circumstances. You shouldn't be contacted and asked to apply or asked for any personal details. If you are contacted, this might be a scam. Find out more about spotting, avoiding and reporting scams.
Do you know what benefits you are entitled to? Our Benefits Calculator can help you, quickly and easily, to find out what you could be claiming.
If you're finding it difficult to keep up with energy bills or you owe money to your energy supplier, your supplier has a duty to help.
You can ask your energy supplier for:
You may be able to register for Priority Services depending on your circumstances, this includes if you're over State Pension age or if you're living with a disability. The Priority Services Register gives you access to a range of support, including priority assistance in an emergency, advance notice of planned power cuts and help with prepayment meter access and meter readings.
Each energy supplier and network operator has its own Priority Services Register. You can register with both by phone or, for some companies, you can register online.
Some energy suppliers have their own special funding schemes or provide support through national schemes such as the Energy Company Obligation. These provide a range of financial support, debt relief, energy advice, and the installation of energy efficiency improvements which can help lower your bills. Check with your supplier to see what support you might be entitled to.
The Government has some measures in place to limit how much people have to spend on their energy bills.
The price cap applies to most households in Britain and it's the maximum amount that suppliers can charge per unit of energy.
From 1 October 2023, for 'typical' dual-fuel households paying by direct debit, Ofgem has set the annual price cap level at £1,923. The cap is reviewed every 3 months, so it may change – you can check the current price cap level on the Ofgem website using the link below. From 1 July until October, the price cap was £2,074.
However, it's important to note that bills are still based on your usage, so you may pay more or less than the price cap level.
The Energy Price Guarantee provided further support with energy bills from October 2022 to June 2023, by placing a limit on what energy suppliers could charge households for their energy while prices were particularly high. In July 2023, it rose from £2,500 to £3,000 per year for a 'typical' household.
The Energy Price Guarantee will continue until the end of March 2024. It will act as a safety net, applying to bills if energy prices rise above £3,000 per year.
We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local Age UKs.
Information on smart meters and prepayment meters.
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