The rising cost of energy bills is hitting many households hard, but there are schemes out there providing financial help and other support for those unable to pay
British households struggling with the high cost of energy bills have an hour left to apply for a scheme offering up to £ 750 in financial help.
Energy bills are rising, and are due to increase by £ 693 a year for the average household from April 1.
The cost of the average variable rate energy bill, for the average household, is capped by regulator Ofgem.
That cap is rising from £ 1,277 a year to £ 1,971 on April 1, with further rises expected from October, in response to supply demands due to the war in Ukraine.
The good news is that there are some schemes that can help.
The less good news is that one of them closes in an hour.
British Gas has an Energy Trust Individual and Families grant that gives money off unpaid energy bills.
This is open to all customers, not just those with British Gas.
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However, before you can apply to the Trust for financial support you should have already contacted your energy supplier, Local Money Advice Agency, or an online debt and money advisor such as Citizens Advice.
The scheme is due to end at 4pm today, and will reopen on July 1.
But if you miss the deadline many energy companies have launched hardship funds to help customers with rising fuel bills and associated debt.
For example, British Gas has launched its British Gas Winter Fund, which gives eligible customers up to £ 750 toward the cost of their energy bills.
British Gas says the average payout per grant so far has been £ 510.
Other similar grants include the Ovo Energy Fund, E.ON Energy Fund, Bulb Energy Fund and the EDF Energy Customer Support Fund.
Energy providers can also set up payment plans to help customers with bills.
Elsewhere, the Warm Home Discount is available to some people on benefits with more information available at Citizens Advice. The scheme could help you take £ 140 off your bills.
Shelter also provides information to help people struggling to pay their energy bills – it can give more details of the Warm Home Discount and explain what you can get dependent on your particular circumstance.
Anxieties about the cost of living are common and fears over how to look after your loved ones can take a toll on more than just a bank balance.
If you feel you need extra help, charities like mental health outfit Mind can be a great way to help with your wellbeing.
What advice has British Gas given to help those struggling?
British Gas has offered the following tips on how customers can become more energy efficient in order to get the most out of the gas and electricity they pay for:
- Do fewer, but fuller, loads of laundry.
- Use eco settings on your dishwasher or boiler in order to use less energy.
- Turn your appliances off at the wall rather than leaving them on standby.
- Just fill your kettle up with the level of water you need, rather than filling it all the way up.
- Switch to LED bulbs, as these last longer.
- Use your microwave more often or consider investing in a slow cooker – microwaves save energy due to being quicker and slow cookers are one of the most energy-efficient kitchen appliances.
- Unplug your chargers as soon as your device is fully charged.
- Close your curtains at night as this helps your home to retain heat.
- Ensure your washing machine is set to no higher than 30 ° C.
- Upgrade your boiler – newer boiler models are more energy efficient.