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Support for energy customers with sight loss

Support for energy customers with sight loss

From the Priority Services Register to tailored support, many energy suppliers are taking steps to make it easier for those with visual impairments to manage their energy bills and accounts. Read on to find out how you can get help with your gas and electricity supply if you’re have different sight requirements.

Click here for information about how those with different hearing requirements can get support from suppliers.

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Reading your energy meters

If you’re affected by sight loss, it can be difficult to provide regular meter readings to your energy supplier. Without regular meter readings, your bill will be estimated and you could end up paying more or less than you should (with a hefty bill to make up for any underpayments).

A smart meter will automatically send meter readings to your supplier to ensure you’re only paying for the gas and electricity you use. Get in touch with your supplier to ask whether they’re able to fit a smart meter in your property - many suppliers also offer smart meters with Accessible In-Home Displays (AIHDs) specifically for those with sight loss.

Accessible in-home displays for smart meters have been developed in partnership with the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) and include features such as large and tactile buttons, text-to-speech navigation, large typeface, and a high-contrast colour scheme for those with visual impairments and colour blindness.

If you’d prefer not to use a smart meter or your property isn’t suitable for one, most energy suppliers will send a meter reader to your home on a regular basis if you make them aware of your circumstances.

Reading your energy bills

Those with sight loss can also face extra challenges in reading bills and other communications from their energy suppliers.

Most energy suppliers will offer paper bills in large print or Braille on request, with some offering extra services such as ‘talking bills’ where your supplier will call you to talk through your bill and take payment.

If you sign up to the Priority Services Register through your supplier you can also nominate someone you trust to receive and manage your bills on your behalf.

Priority Services Register

The Priority Services Register (PSR) is a scheme provided by energy suppliers for vulnerable energy customers, including those with visual impairments and sight loss.

The scheme is voluntary and not all energy providers offer it, but most major suppliers do. The help on offer can vary by supplier, but can include:

  • Large-format or Braille bills
  • Advanced notice of service interruption
  • Priority in a power cut
  • Quarterly meter readings

The supplier can also pass your details on to your local network operator to ensure you get extra support during a power cut and give you advance notice of any engineering work that could disrupt your energy supply.

Read our guide to learn more about the services offered under the Priority Services Register.

If you’d like to find out more about what your supplier offers or to access these additional services, you simply need to sign up to the Priority Services Register through your current supplier.

Support offered by your energy supplier

All of the major energy suppliers offer different services under the Priority Services Register. Here’s a quick roundup of the help available from the biggest suppliers:

British Gas

As part of its commitments under the Priority Services Register, British Gas offers:

  • Braille and audio letters (bills, statements and letters in Braille or large print or on a CD, or you can ask the supplier call you to talk you through them)
  • The ability to nominate a person to manage your account
  • Quarterly meter readings or smart meter installation
  • Free gas safety checks

SSE

Under its Priority Services Register commitments, SSE offers:

  • Bills and communications in large print, Braille and audio
  • A knock and wait service, giving you more time to answer the door to SSE representatives
  • The ability to nominate a person to manage your account
  • Quarterly meter readings or smart meter installation

ScottishPower

For its customers on the Priority Services Register, ScottishPower offers:

  • Communications in Braille, large print or CD
  • The ability to nominate a person to manage your account
  • Frequent meter reading services
  • Annual gas safety checks

npower

npower’s Priority Services customers are offered:

  • Alternative formats for bills and communications
  • The ability to nominate a person to manage your account
  • Free gas safety checks

E.ON

Under the Priority Services Register, E.ON customers can access:

  • Bills in talking Braille or large print
  • The ability to nominate a person to manage your account
  • Quarterly meter readings at a minimum
  • Annual gas safety checks

EDF

If you’re signed up to the Priority Services Register with EDF, you can access:

  • Bills and letters in large font, Braille or talking bills
  • The ability to nominate a person to manage your account
  • Regular meter readings or smart meter installation
  • Free gas safety check

What other help am I eligible for?

As well as support from your energy provider, you may be eligible for government schemes to help with the cost of your gas and electricity.

If you qualify, you could claim the Warm Home Discount, Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment. You can read more about each of these schemes and find out whether you’re eligible in our guide.

Read more …

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