The cold weather payment could help you pay for your heating in the cold weather.
There's nothing worse than being cold in our own homes but not being able to turn on the heating for fear of excessive energy bills. When the weather is really cold you may feel like leaving the heating on all the time, but you can't.
The cold weather payment is a government grant given to certain qualifying households made when the temperature drops below zero degrees Celsius for one consecutive week.
If you qualify for the cold weather payment you receive £25 for each week of cold weather between the 1 November and 31 March (2013-2014 season).
So, if the weather has been particularly bitter how do you know if you qualify for a payment?
Do you qualify?
The cold weather grants may be available to you if you currently receive benefits.
- Pension Credit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance - Only available to those who also receive a disability or pensioner premium, child tax credits, or who have a child under 5 or a disabled child
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) - You will usually get cold weather payments if you also have a support of work-related ESA, a severe or enhanced disability premium, pensioner premium, child tax credits, or a child under 5 or a disabled child.
- Universal Credit — only if you're not employed and you receive a limited capability for work element, or you have a disabled child or child under 5 in your home
To see if your area is set to receive the cold weather payment, you can use the government's cold weather payment postcode search starting 1 November.
It’s also worth noting that eligibility is based on income, not savings. The cold weather payment will not impact on any other benefits you receive, and you don’t need to repay it.
How to claim
The great thing about the cold weather payment is you don’t need to claim. Like the winter fuel payment, the cold weather payment will be paid automatically to your account registered for benefits payments.
Not what you were looking for?
There are a range of other benefits that you may be eligible for that shouldn’t be confused with the cold weather payment.
Perhaps the most easily confused with the cold weather payment is the winter fuel payment, the winter fuel payment is a yearly one-off payment that you may be eligible for over winter, but it is not related to temperature. It is entirely separate from the cold weather payment.
The winter fuel payment is made each winter to certain qualifying households, including the elderly and those on certain forms of income-support, to help pay for increased energy bills over the winter period.
You may also be entitled to financial assistance through the Warm Front scheme. The warm front scheme is a form of government subsidies to help tackle fuel poverty by providing grants for loft insulation, draught-proofing, wall insulation, central heating, gas heaters and hot water tanks for those on certain income-related benefits, or those living in poorly insulated properties or homes without central heating systems.
You may also be entitled to the warm home discount.. The warm home discount is a similar scheme that, instead of giving grants for improvement works, provides rebates on energy bills. In the 2013-14 year qualifying homes receive a £135 rebate on their electricity bills. The rebate comes in the form of a discount on existing energy bills rather than a cash payment.
Like the cold weather payment, the warm home discount is typically paid automatically with recipients receiving a letter confirming that the deduction will take place.
To learn more about this and other energy efficiency grants that you may be entitled to see our dedicated guide.
How else can I save on heating costs?
While there are plenty of grants and subsidies out there for households in need of help you can still save money on your heating bills if you don't qualify.
The single easiest way to cut your household energy bill is to make sure your home retains more heat. So much of the UK's housing stock is relatively old and built at a time when insulation standards and materials weren't up to today's standards.
Insulation starts with draught proofing, which is the cheapest way to save energy around the home. Just look for any areas around doors and windows that are letting in cold air, or even in chimney flues or letterboxes. Draught-proofing materials can be bought from any hardware store and are easy to install yourself.
The next easiest way to improve the energy efficiency of your home is to invest in insulation. Loft insulation is the most basic form and you can even install it yourself. Even if you have insulation in place you could still save money by topping up to recommended levels. Read more on our dedicated loft insulation guide page.
If you already have loft insulation you could look into cavity and solid wall insulation. The type of wall insulation suitable for you depends entirely on what type of home you live in, but generally speaking if your home was built after 1920 there's a good chance you have cavity walls, meaning you have an inner and an outer wall with a gap between the two.
Cavity wall insulation fills the gap between your walls but it can be expensive to install, with costs typically coming to around £500. However, cavity wall insulation can save you up to £140 a year according to the Energy Saving Trust. To learn more and see if your home is suitable read our cavity wall insulation guide.
Don't forget, you can also save a fortune on your energy bills through some simple lifestyle changes. Always wear a jumper around the home for instance, get a pair of slippers, and close doors to rooms that aren't being heated.