Managing utility bills in retirement


Minimising costs doesn’t mean you have to start turning the heating off. That would be a terrible idea. But you might find there are some small changes you can make to save money on your household bills. 


So how can I cut down on my utility bills?

Many of us begin to feel the cold as we age. We use less energy as we get slower and our muscles begin to lose their strength. Sometimes we even lose our ability to regulate our temperature. So without worrying you too much, we’ve put together a selection of the discounts, benefits and schemes that can help you to pay for your energy once you retire:

The Warm Home Discount Scheme

What is it?

This is a one-off discount of £140 (2016/2017) on your electricity bills. It’s paid to your electricity company between October and April, and passed on to you directly as a discount.

Am I eligible?

Not everyone qualifies as it’s aimed at people on a low income. But if you receive the Guaranteed Credit part of Pension Credit it’s likely you’ll get it.

Cold Weather Payment

What is it?

If you’re on certain benefits, you’ll get £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather between 1st November 2016 and 31st March 2017.

How do I apply?

If you receive the Guaranteed Credit part of Pension Credit, these payments will be made directly to you. If for any reason you’re not getting this but think you should be, make sure you tell your pension centre.

Winter Fuel Payment

What is it?

This is a one-off payment of between £100 and £300 per year to help towards your heating costs.

Am I eligible?

If you receive the State Pension, this is automatically paid into the same account once a year, between November and December. You can only get it if you were born on or before 5 May 1953, but if you’re unsure, contact the Winter Fuel Payment line on the following number: 03459 15 15 15 (textphone 0345 606 0285).

The Affordable Warmth Obligation

What is it?

Your energy company is obliged to help low-income households with all or part of the cost of loft or cavity wall insulation – and even boiler repairs. And by making your home more energy efficient, you can reduce your fuel bills. 

Am I eligible?

If you receive Pension Credit and live in your own home or rent privately, you may be able to benefit from these energy-saving improvements. If you rent, just make sure you ask the homeowner first. Contact the Energy Saving advice service to see what you can claim.  

Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)

What is it?

This is a government-funded scheme to encourage people to use renewable forms of energy to heat their homes. If you qualify, you’ll receive payments for seven years based on the amount of renewable heat made by your heating system.

How do I apply?

You’ll need to have some form of renewable energy source installed at your property. This could be solar panels or a ground heat pump for example. If you think you might be eligible, you can apply for the RHI scheme using the Ofgem website. 

What else can I do?

If you’re not already living on a budget, it might be worth starting to make cutbacks now so that you get used to living on a set income. Below are some further suggestions to look at and help you make decisions which are right for your future.