The Warm Home Discount Scheme explained

Learn if you can get £150 off your winter heating costs.

  • The Warm Home Discount Scheme has closed. It will reopen in October 2024. The information in the rest of this guide relates to last year’s scheme – we’ll update it when we get the new details. The scheme is different if you’re on a low income in Scotland – contact your electricity provider as soon as you can to see if you’re eligible and how to apply.

The Warm Home Discount Scheme is designed to help vulnerable households with the cost of heating their home over the winter. If you’re eligible to benefit from the scheme, the government will contribute £150 towards your electricity bill.

What is the Warm Home Discount Scheme?

We use far more power during winter than during summer – a study published by the government found that it’s around a third more, on average. The Warm Home Discount, which launched in 2011, is designed to help pensioners and certain vulnerable and low income households with their electricity bills over the winter.

If you’re eligible, the government will give your energy supplier £150 to be credited to your electricity bill between October and March. If you’re eligible and your home has a pre-payment or pay-as-you-go electricity meter then you’ll typically get a £150 credit voucher to load onto your account.

You can request that the payment goes towards your gas bill instead of your power, but only if your supplier provides both gas and electricity to your home.

The scheme only operates in England and Wales, with a separate Warm Home Discount Scheme in Scotland.

Households in Northern Ireland may be eligible for a separate scheme designed to help those on low incomes reduce their energy costs. More details can be found on the Northern Ireland Housing Executive website.

We don’t yet have the exact details of when the 2024–2025 scheme opens, but based on previous years it’s likely to begin making payments around mid-October. If you’re expecting to get the discount on your bill then you should receive a letter between October and December.

Who’s eligible?

Under the scheme, most eligible households in England and Wales will get the discount automatically. To qualify, your household will need to have met 1 of 2 sets of criteria on a particular day, known as the qualifying date. We don’t yet know the qualifying date for the 2024–2025 scheme, but it was 13 August 2023 last year.

England and Wales

Core group 1

You’ll automatically get the £150 bill credit if you or your partner receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit. The discount will be applied if, on the qualifying date, you or your partner claim the benefit and the following things are also true:

  • Your energy supplier is part of the scheme
  • Your name or your partner’s name is on the electricity bill

If this applies to you, you’re part of what the government calls the “core group 1” in England and Wales.

Core group 2

If neither you nor your partner receives the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, you may still be able to receive the £150 discount if you’re a member of “core group 2”.

To be eligible as part of this group, your household needs to be on a low income, you have a participating energy supplier and you receive one or more of the following means-tested benefits or Tax Credits:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Universal Credit
  • Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits
  • Savings Credit element of Pension Credit

All of those in this group will also receive the discount on their bills automatically without needing to apply to their energy supplier, as was previously the case.

Your property also needs to have a high energy cost score to be eligible. This is calculated based on your property’s type, age and floor area, not on your actual energy bill.

Scotland

Core group

In Scotland you qualify for the discount if your energy supplier is part of the scheme, your name or your partner’s is on the electricity bill and you or your partner are getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (even if you get Savings Credit as well). This is called the “core group”.

Broader group

You might still be eligible if your energy supplier is part of the scheme, you or your partner get certain means-tested benefits or tax credits and your name or your partner’s is on the electricity bill. If you’re part of the “broader group” you have to apply through your electricity supplier.

Can you challenge eligibility decisions?

Yes. If you think your energy costs assessment is wrong, you can contact the Warm Home Discount helpline on 0800 030 9322.

Do all energy suppliers have to offer the discount?

No. Under the rules, suppliers who have more than 1,000 household customers in Great Britain have to join the scheme.

The government website has a full list of the energy suppliers that took part in the 2023–2024 Warm Home Discount scheme.

How to apply

You should receive a letter from the government between November and December if you’re eligible. Most eligible households will receive the discount automatically. This letter will say if you need to call the government helpline to confirm your eligibility.

You should contact your supplier if you think you’re eligible for the discount under the broader group in Scotland but haven’t received a letter.

Other government help with energy costs

If you’re worried that you’ll struggle with your energy bills this winter but you don’t qualify for the Warm Home Discount, there are some other government schemes that may be of help.

Cold Weather Payment

If you’re on certain benefits or you claim support for mortgage interest, then you’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as or forecast to be 0°C or below over 7 consecutive days.

The government will give you £25 for each 7-day period of very cold weather between 1 November 2024 and 31 March 2025. The money will be paid into the same bank account used to receive your benefits within 14 working days.

You may be able to get Cold Weather Payments if you get any of the following benefits:

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit
  • Support for Mortgage Interest

Receiving one of these benefits does not automatically make you eligible. Full details on how to claim Cold Weather Payments can be found on the gov.uk website.

Winter Fuel Payment

If you receive the state pension, you may be able to receive the Winter Fuel Payment, which is worth between £100 and £300 every year.

As a pensioner, you’ll automatically receive the Winter Fuel Payment if you were born on or before 22 September 1958 and live in the UK.

If you don’t get the state pension, you’ll still automatically receive the payment if you get certain benefits.

If you don’t meet any of the criteria to get the payment automatically, you may still be able to get it by making a claim and applying. The criteria if you don’t meet the above conditions can be pretty complicated. You may be eligible to apply if one of the below options is true:

  • You don’t get the state pension and only receive one or more of the following benefits: Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit, OR
  • You get any other benefits or the state pension, but live in Switzerland or a country in the European Economic Area (but not Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain)

The payment is usually made in November or December.

For full details on eligibility criteria and to find out how to apply, check the gov.uk website.

Other ways to save on energy

Home improvement and insulation grants

The government offers a range of cash grants to be used to insulate your home or replace your boiler. These measures will help lower your energy costs, especially over the colder winter months.

For a full list of available grants both nationally and in your local area, check the government’s Simple Energy Advice website.

Residents in Northern Ireland may be able to benefit from the Affordable Warmth Scheme, which pays grants to homeowners in order to make energy efficiency improvements in their homes.

Switching supplier and locking in a fixed price

One of the quickest ways to cut down your energy costs is to compare and switch tariffs.

If you want to compare a wider variety of suppliers based on where you live and what you need, just enter your postcode via the “Compare” button below to see if you’re currently overpaying.

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The bottom line

The Warm Home Discount has been operating for over a decade to help the most financially vulnerable households in Britain with the costs of their winter electricity bills.

If you meet certain criteria and your energy supplier is part of the discount scheme, then you’ll receive the £150 bill credit automatically. If you don’t qualify to receive the discount automatically, you may still be able to apply for it.

If you meet the criteria then you’ll receive the bill credit, regardless of whether your home uses a credit meter or a pre-payment meter for electricity.

Frequently asked questions

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