Housing & Energy Grants

Find free cash for your home

Government grants for home & energy

There's free cash available to help increase your home's energy efficiency or pay your energy bills – hundreds of millions of pounds of it. The key is knowing where to look.

In this guide

What is a grant?

A grant is money, or a voucher, that contributes towards the cost of you buying something. While it may not cover the full cost of the item, meaning you'll have to cough up the rest yourself, it's almost always free.

Most grants tend to be for specific utility suppliers, which can mean even after the grant, it isn't necessarily the cheapest place. They're usually offered to encourage people to do or buy something they wouldn't normally consider.

For more help saving on home devices, plus tips from DIY nuts, see the In My Home forum board.

The top energy grants, discounts & freebies

Energy is one of the main grant-giving areas as substantial Government funding is available to reduce our impact on the environment.

The Government, energy suppliers and local authorities all provide grants to help you implement energy saving measures. The best place to start is Simple Energy Advice and the Energy Saving Trust (EST), (or see where to find similar info for Scotland and Northern Ireland).

Everyone should try this. Here's some inspiration...

I have been lucky enough to qualify for a brand new boiler. I didn't think I'd meet the criteria but I did, so check and see if you qualify too.

The end result of these grants is an increase in your home's value, warmth and economy. Of course, just as big savings are available by cutting costs, or insuring your boiler against breakdown. Check out our Cheap Gas & Electricity and Boiler Cover guides.

If you use heating oil to warm your home, instead of gas, we've compiled five simple steps to cut your costs, too. For full help see our Cheap Heating Oil guide. 

Free insulation and boiler grants

The big energy suppliers are giving wads of freebies to those receiving certain benefits, including boiler grants and free insulation. It's because of efficiency obligations to people in certain groups.

The cost of a new boiler varies, but a typical gas boiler replacement costs around £2,300. A boiler grant can slash this to just £240.

Boilers are one of the biggest contributors to energy bills – the more efficient your boiler, the more heat it produces from each gas unit. Depending on its age, a shiny new efficient one could save you up to £300 a year.

Cavity wall insulation can slice between £70 and £255 off energy bills every year, according to the Energy Saving Trust. We've heard of cases where damp has formed after having cavity wall insulation installed, so make sure it's appropriate for your home.

If your loft isn't insulated and you get it fitted with 270mm of new insulation, this'll save another £120-£225 a year.

You could qualify if you get tax credits or income-based benefits, such as pension credit or income support. Check the Free Boilers and Insulation guide for the latest offers. 

Can you get the up-to £300 winter fuel payment?

If you were born on or before 5 April 1954 and will be living in the UK for at least one day between 16 and 22 September 2019, then regardless of income, you can grab a one-off, tax-free winter fuel payment of between £100 and £300.

You'll receive a letter from the Government telling you how much you will get, based on the following criteria.

Winter fuel payments – how much could you get in 2019/20?

BETWEEN 16-22 SEPTEMBER 2019 YOU:  BORN BETWEEN 23 SEP 1939 AND 5 APR 1954 BORN ON OR BEFORE 22 SEP 1939
Live alone (or none of the people you live with qualify)
£200 £300
Live with someone under 80 who also qualifies £100 £200
Live with someone 80 or over who also qualifies £100 £150
Live in a care home but don't receive pension credit, income support, jobseeker's allowance (JSA) or income-related employment and support allowance (ESA). £100 £150

How is it paid? If you're on the state pension or in receipt of another social security benefit, such as pension credit, jobseeker's allowance (JSA), or income-related employment and support allowance (ESA) then you should receive it automatically, paid in the same way as the other benefit you receive. See the full eligibility criteria.

If you've not had the winter fuel payment before and don't get benefits or a state pension, or only get universal credit, housing benefit, council tax reduction or child benefit, then you'll need to claim it. You can either apply by post or by calling the helpline on 0800 731 0160.

When is it paid? You'll receive a letter with your estimated payment date, though you should receive it before Christmas as payments are made in November and December. If you've not received it by 13 January 2020 you should speak to your local benefits office.

Cold weather payment if temperatures hit zero

The cold weather payment is a separate grant paid by the Government to older people and those on certain benefits, to help cover costs when temperatures hit zero in your area.

It applies if the average temperature is – or is forecast to be – 0°C or below for seven days in a row between 1 November and 31 March.

You'll get £25 for every seven consecutive days of cold weather, payable into the same account your benefits are paid into, within 14 working days of the cold spell.

Who's eligible? Everyone in the UK that gets pension credit qualifies. In addition, you're eligible if you get income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance or universal credit (you're excluded if you're employed or self-employed) AND you either have a child who is disabled or under five living with you, or you get a disability or pensioner premium. See the full eligibility criteria.

How do I apply? You should automatically get your rebate 14 working days after the seven days of freezing weather. Check with your Jobcentre or pension centre if you don't receive it when applicable

How will I get the cash? It's paid straight into your account (the one your benefits are already paid into). 

Some can get £140 towards energy bills in winter

The Warm Home Discount scheme requires big suppliers, by law, to help vulnerable customers in the UK pay for energy. Those who are eligible are able to get a £140 rebate on energy bills between September and March.

You can easily compare tariffs from suppliers that offer the discount via our Cheap Energy Club, simply select the warm home discount filter, under 'tariff features'.

Who's eligible? There are two ways to qualify, with a different application process for each.

  • The Core Group. Government rules state that as of Sunday 7 July, if you receive the guarantee credit element of pension credit and your name (or your partner's) is on the bill, you're in this group. Provided your energy supplier is part of the scheme, you'll be sent a letter between October and December 2019 telling you how to apply.

  • The Broader Group. If you don't qualify for the above, you can still apply for the discount providing you get certain benefits. If you're eligible you'll need to apply directly to the supplier, which you should do as soon as possible as discounts are often limited and cut-off dates vary. Each provider who offers the discount may have additional requirements, but the below is the compulsory criteria. 

You can call the Warm Home Discount helpline on 0800 731 0214 between 14 October 2019 and 28 February 2020.

  • 1. Those whose total household annual income is less than or equal to £16,190 and are in receipt of child tax credits or the universal credit equivalent, with either:

    • Parental responsibility of a child aged under five living with them.
    • A disabled child living with them with a child disability premium or claiming child tax credit that includes a disability or severe disability element.

    2. Income support or income-based jobseeker's allowance, with any of following:

    • A disability or pensioner premium.
    • A child who is disabled.
    • Child tax credit that includes a disability or severe disability element.
    • Parental responsibility of a child aged under five living with them.

    3. Income-related employment and support allowance (ESA), inc members of the work-related activity group, with any of the following:

    • A severe or enhanced disability premium.
    • A pensioner premium.
    • A child who is disabled.
    • Child tax credit that includes a disability or severe disability element.
    • Parental responsibility of a child aged under five living with them.

    4. Universal credit and you're either employed, unemployed or self-employed, with any of the following:

    • Limited capability for work element (with or without a work-related activity element).
    • A disabled child element.
    • Parental responsibility of a child aged under five living with them.

How will I get the cash? The money isn't paid to you, it's a one-off discount on your electricity bill before 31 March. If you're on prepay, your supplier can tell you how to claim it - usually it's a voucher worth £140 for your meter.

  • You can easily compare tariffs from the following suppliers that offer the discount via our Cheap Energy Club, simply select the warm home discount filter, under 'tariff features'.

    Avro Energy, Bristol Energy*, British Gas (inc Scottish Gas), Bulb, Co-operative Energy (inc GB Energy), E, EDF, E.on, Flow Energy, Green Network Energy, Green Star Energy, Npower (inc Powershop), Octopus Energy, Ovo Energy (inc Boost, Lumo and Spark Energy), Robin Hood Energy* (inc Angelic Energy, Beam Energy, Citizen Energy, Ebico, Fosse Energy, Great North Energy, Leccy, Ram Energy, White Rose Energy, Your Energy Sussex), Sainsbury's Energy, Scottish Power (inc Manweb), Shell Energy (formerly First Utility), SSE (inc Atlantic, Scottish Hydro, Southern Electric, SWALEC), Utilita, Utility Warehouse.

    *Only provides the discount to the 'core group'.

If you're on your provider's default or standard variable tariff, your prices are subject to Ofgem's energy price cap, limiting what suppliers can charge for gas and electricity. 

A typical dual-fuel user can't be charged more than £1,254/yr, but don't be fooled, with the current cheapest tariff offering the Warm Home Discount at £891/yr, switching could save you over £300/yr. Find your cheapest with our Cheap Energy Club and the Warm Home Discount filter. 

Free cash to help pay for utility arrears

Some utility companies also offer help if you have large arrears on your gas, electricity or water bills. Please let us know if you have success with any of these schemes.

Energy

Some providers offer an energy fund scheme to help with arrears if you're facing serious financial hardship. 

To apply for help with arrears you'll need to be an account holder – you'll need to complete a full income and expenditure budget sheet along with proof of your income, plus give details on how your arrears have built up, eg, due to illness or redundancy, and say how the grant will help you. It can take several weeks to process your claim.

Exact requirements vary - some say you need to be in receipt of certain benefits for example - but those with the greatest need are prioritised on a case by case basis.

You can apply via these links:

Open to anyone (not just its customers): British Gas Energy Trust

Open to their customers only:  EDF Energy Trust / E.on Energy Fund / Npower Energy Fund  / Scottish Power Hardship Fund / Ovo Energy Fund

For other providers or general advice, contact Simple Energy Advice on 0800 444 202 (for England and Wales), Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282 (for Scotland) or the Bryson Energy Advice Line on 0800 142 2865 (for Northern Ireland).

Also see the Cheap Gas & Electricity guide.

 

Water

The Turn2us website has info on all the water company schemes. Help from providers includes WaterSure (see below), referrals to hardship funds and help in applying for direct payment from benefits, such as Water Direct.

If you're on a meter and on certain benefits, and either have three or more children living in the house under the age of 19 or someone in the household with a medical condition needing lots of water, you could get help from the WaterSure scheme. This caps your bills at the average household bill for your company.

Some providers also offer other special tariffs and/or New Start/Restart (the name depends on where you live), a scheme that can match payments or write off some of your debt if you enter an arrears payment plan.

Water-saving freebies

There are also a range of freebies you can get from your water supplier to help you save on your water bill.

The freebies you get vary by supplier – the water efficiency site Save Water Save Money collates all the best ones up for grabs.

Examples include flush bags, water widgets, shower timers and water audit leaflets. To see what you can get, plus more details on how the scheme works, go to the full Cut Water Bills guide.

Home phones

Some means-tested benefits recipients can get BT's special basic tariff for £5.10/mth, which includes an allowance of £1.50 to spend on calls to landlines, mobiles, 0800 numbers and international calls. Free weekend calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers, for up to 60 minutes a call, are also included.

After going over the £1.50 allowance it's 11.3p a minute per call, plus 3.3p for each call on top, for normal calls. There's also a monthly price cap of £10 on calls starting 01, 02 and 03, and to mobiles starting 07 and 08. You can call to check your bill amount any time, or check online.

You're eligible for BT Basic if you're on any of the following benefits: income support, income-based JSA, ESA (income related), the guaranteed credit element of pensions credit and finally if you get universal credit but you're on zero earnings. You can get an application form by calling BT on 0800 800 864. For more info visit BT's website.

The top home help schemes and grants

Grants for the home come in two flavours. They're either for home safety improvements – whether it be smoke alarms or security – or they help the vulnerable or those on low incomes who'd struggle to make the improvements themselves.

Home repair and maintenance help

If you are elderly, disabled or on a low income, your local Home Improvement Agency (HIA) may help you to repair, improve, maintain or adapt your home. There are around 200 HIA services around the country that can help in varying ways.

Assistance can include providing a list of reliable local builders and contractors, checking if you can get financial help or helping to make your home more energy efficient. Search for your nearest HIA on the Foundations website (or Care and Repair Cymru in Wales).

Alternatively, independent charity Turn2Us has a grant search to help you check for any charities that might be able to help with things like furniture, decorating or bills and household expenses. The grants usually depend on an individual's circumstances, maybe any illnesses or their nationality, occupation, age or income.

Need help in an emergency?

Under the Department of Work and Pensions' Social Fund reform, each local authority is responsible for providing help to its residents in an emergency.

This could be you or your families' health being at risk, not being able to afford to buy food, needing help to stay in your own home and coming out of care, hospital or prison. Low income families can apply and the maximum award varies, though it's usually a couple of hundred pounds.

However, it's a postcode lottery. Each council can choose whether to offer financial help or not, or who is eligible. For example, some may give furniture or food grants while others may give cash. Ask your council for more info.

Smoke detector. Isolated on white background

Free fire safety check and alarm

Many local fire stations offer free home fire risk assessments, to check for potential fire risks and give fire safety advice.

The check will help you plan what to do if a fire starts in your home and you'll usually be given a free smoke alarm if you don't already have one.

The scheme's open to anyone but it's aimed at the elderly, families with young children or any homes which may carry a high fire risk.

The Chief Fire Officers Association has put together a list of what each brigade offers and you can find out more about the assessments on the Fire Service website. If your local brigade isn't listed, you could ring it to see what it offers.

Help adapting your home if you're disabled

A Disabled Facilities Grant is available from your council to help towards the cost of adapting your home if you, or someone living in your property, is disabled.

You can get up to £30,000 in England, £36,000 in Wales and up to £25,000 in Northern Ireland. In Scotland, Disabled Facilities Grants aren't available.

The grant is for work that is essential to help a disabled person live an independent life. Here's an example..

I had a disabled facilities grant to remove my bath and put in a level access shower.

Contact your council's housing or environmental health department and ask it to send you an application form before you start work. If work begins before the council's approved your application, you won't normally get anything. Find more info on the grant on the Gov.uk website, as well as your council's details.

In Wales, an additional scheme provided by Care and Repair is the Rapid Response Adaptations Programme, which helps with small-scale alterations to your home (such as grab rail installments). You need to be referred by a health or social services professional such as an occupational therapist, so speak to your doctor to see if you qualify.

Feel safer in your home

Age UK runs a local handyperson service in over 80% of the country. This involves security-checked individuals visiting elderly people's homes (though anyone over 50 can apply) to do small repairs, grab rail instalments and security improvements to doors and windows.

Charges for handyperson services are set at local levels so call your local Age UK. Costs are around £5-£25 per hour dependent on the work being undertaken. For info call Age UK on 0800 678 1602.

Council or housing association grants

Other grants for your home (including for landlords) are available from your council or Housing Association (if you are a tenant of one). Anyone can apply but as councils can offer different funding, search for details on its website or contact them to ask for more information.

To find your council's details enter your postcode in the Gov.uk website. Be careful to check if there are any restrictions on council grants, as some need you to have lived in the property for a number of years or require you to repay part of the grant if you move within a certain timeframe.

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