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Paying for heating during cold weather

This page looks at ways you can reduce the amount you spend on heating during the cold winter months. If you are elderly, disabled or on a low income, you may be able to get some help to pay your bills - this page offers a brief overview of possible sources of financial help.

Saving on bills

Heating your home can be expensive. However, there are things you can do to keep warmth in, cold out and fuel bills down.

  • Draw the curtains as soon as it's dusk to keep in warmth.
  • Install draught excluders and seal up any gaps (although be careful not to seal up any ventilation flues or gaps).
  • Line radiators on external walls with tin foil to reflect the warmth into the room.
  • Don't cover radiators with curtains or washing.
  • Consider switching to a cheaper gas and/or electricity supplier. Websites such as uSwitch or  MoneySupermarket allow you to compare prices. 

The page on energy saving measures has more suggestions.

Cold weather payments

Some people who receive income support, income based jobseeker's allowance, employment and support allowance or pension credit are entitled to a cold weather payment from the social fund. These payments are made if the weather becomes exceptionally cold (0° or below) for seven consecutive days or more. Payments should be made automatically with your benefits. Find out if you qualify at the Jobcentre Plus.

You can find out more about cold weather payments at Gov.UK

Winter fuel payments

If you are aged 62 or over, you should receive an annual winter fuel payment, to help with the costs of keeping warm during winter. If you are getting the state retirement pension or some welfare benefits you should be sent these payments automatically. Otherwise, you may have to claim your first winter fuel payment. You can find out more about the winter fuel payment, how to claim and what to do if you haven't been sent one at the Pension Service's winter fuel payments website.

Help from the social fund

Some people may be eligible to apply for a budgeting loan, crisis loan or community care grant from the social fund. These can be used to:

  • buy essential household goods such as a heater
  • buy coal, oil or bottled gas
  • install a pre-payment meter to help control your fuel consumption
  • have your electricity or gas reconnected.

Where to get help

For advice on your heating costs call our free helpline on 0808 800 444 and speak to a Shelter Scotland adviser.

Local voluntary organisations

If you are elderly, disabled or vulnerable in some way, you may be able to get a grant or charitable payment from a local voluntary organisation. An adviser at Citizens Advice may be able to put you in touch with an organisation which can help you.

Age Scotland

Age Scotland produces a useful information pack with more information about paying for heating if you're retired or elderly.

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