If you qualify for the warm home discount, you stand to gain £140 in credit against your annual energy bill. Large energy companies are obligated to assess and credit the account of eligible applicants, in conjunction with the Department of Work and Pensions.
There are two broad groups who can benefit from the warm home discount:
- Households that receive pension credit are the core group who it applies to. Households should be identified by the supplier and credited automatically. Support for the core group is targeted at older and poorer pensioners. Around 650,000 consumers are expected to benefit
- 'Vulnerable' groups may also qualify but the eligibility varies by supplier, and as such the warm home discount has a stigma attached that it's only for pensioners
Suppliers each have their own set of criteria as to what is classed as 'vulnerable'. These criteria will have been approved by Ofgem, and will have a limit on how many customers that can benefit. Customers who may be eligible include those on disability benefits, long-term illness, or those with young children.
Large Energy Suppliers
Suppliers with more than 250,000 customers are legally obliged to offer the warm home discount to qualifying households of both groups
Currently these suppliers are Atlantic, British Gas, EDF, Eon, Ebico, First Utility, Manweb, M&S Energy, npower, Sainsbury's Energy, Scottish Gas, Scottish Hydro, Southern Electric, SSE, Swalec and Utility Warehouse.
Suppliers who have less than 250,000 customers don't have to offer the discount to either group, so it may be worth looking into switching if you don't patronise one of the above, and feel you may be eligible.
How to apply
As mentioned, households in the core group should automatically have the discount credited to their energy bill. This is done by energy suppliers working with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to calculate eligible customers. If you do qualify you should also receive notification in writing from the DWP. Payments are normally made just before or during the winter months. You can contact your supplier if you need to find out when they are scheduled to make the credit, or to check that you've qualified.
Customers in the broader group will have to apply with the supplier. You'll need to contact them to find out more about their criteria, and application process.
If you switch away from a 'large' supplier to one with less than 250,000 customers, you should note that you'll lose your bonus if the new supplier doesn't offer it (they're not obliged to). On another note, the small supplier may be offering better rates which will offer savings greater than the discount anyway, so it's worth doing your maths to check.
Alternatively you may be in a vulnerable group, but your particular vulnerability isn't covered by your current provider. In such cases it may be worth looking into other large supplier which would accept you for the warm home discount. Remember, you can always contact any potential new suppliers in advance to make preliminary enquiries as to whether you'd qualify with them.
Social tariffs have been replaced by the warm home discount to help the most vulnerable customers. If you previously qualified for your supplier's social tariff, you should qualify for the warm home discount.