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 such as winter fuel allowance payments - 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 Compare The MarketuSwitch or  MoneySupermarket allow you to compare prices. 

The page on energy saving measures has more suggestions.

Cold weather payments

Some people who receive benefits 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 allowance payments

To be eligible for a 2020/21 winter fuel allowance payment you have to born before 5 November 1954. You should receive an annual winter fuel allowance, to help with the costs of heating your home during winter. If you are getting the State Pension or some welfare benefits you should be sent these payments automatically. Otherwise, you may have to claim your first winter fuel allowance 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

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.

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help. Get Help

Last updated: 25 January 2021

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England