Energy efficiency at home and how to get financial support

16 December 2021 | Celia Topping

This guide includes information on energy efficiency and where to get advice on saving energy at home. 

We always want to make sure everyone knows how to get financial support, when it comes to paying for energy. That’s why we’ve also put together details on what’s available – from us here at OVO, as well as other places too. Keep reading to find out more.

What is energy efficiency?

Energy efficiency means using less energy to do the same thing – whether that’s switching on a light or using a washing machine. It’s all about saving energy. 

An example of an energy-efficient device is an LED lightbulb. A traditional 60W incandescent bulb loses most of its energy in heat, rather than light – around 90%1. Modern, energy-saving LED light bulbs use far less energy to create the same amount of light – with 90% of the energy being used for light.

The Energy Saving Trust has lots of recommendations on how to use energy efficiently. 

Here are a few things that can help with energy efficiency, just to get started:

  • Bleeding radiators helps to keep your central heating working efficiently – it makes sure that you’re getting the most heat possible out of your radiators. 
  • Making sure your boiler is at the right pressure helps keep it working at its best. The ideal boiler pressure is usually between 1 and 2 bar (this varies from boiler to boiler, so also check your boiler manual for the correct information). Give yours a check, and if the pressure isn’t what it should be, read the instruction manual to learn how to change it. 
  • Getting a smart meter can help you track the energy you’re using, to see if there are other ways you might be able to save. If you’re with OVO, you can book your smart meter appointment to get one installed here.

Help with paying for your energy – we’re here to support you

If you're an OVO customer and you’re worried about your energy bills or you’re struggling financially, please get in touch with us. We’ve helped lots of people in similar situations and we can support you too.

Some of the ways we can help are here:

  • Together, we could come up with a payment plan that works for you. Payment plans spread the cost of what’s owed over time, to help make it more manageable. Find out more about our payment support options.
  • Our dedicated team can give advice on energy debt and talk you through support that’s available.   
  • They can also offer guidance on where to find independent advice.
  • We can tell you about other payment schemes – like Fuel Direct (find out more on this below). 

And, if you’re not an OVO customer, there are still lots of ways you can get support with your energy bills. Read on below to find out more. 

Payment schemes that can also help

These schemes are available and they offer financial support, to help pay for your energy. 

Fuel Direct Scheme 

The Fuel Direct scheme helps to pay your energy bills directly from your benefits (the scheme is run by the Department for Work and Pensions). If you receive any of the following benefits, this might be helpful for you: 

  • Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit (but only if you’re not working)

For more information, contact Jobcentre Plus (or your pension centre if you’re on Pension Credit).

You’ll need to tell them:

  • That we’re your energy supplier
  • The amount of money that’s owed 
  • Your OVO account number
  • Your National Insurance number

Warm Home Discount Scheme

You might be eligible for £140 credit towards your energy bills through the Warm Home Discount Scheme. Unfortunately, applications have closed for this winter. They’ll reopen later in the year for next winter.

You can apply if:

  • You’re on a lower income
  • You’re getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit

Find out more about the Warm Home Discount here.

Cold Weather Payment

A Cold Weather Payment might be available to you, if you’re getting certain benefits. These payments are made if the temperature in your area is forecasted or recorded to be 0C or below for over 7 days in a row. If that’s the case, you could be eligible for £25 credit for each 7-day period (between 1 November and 31 March).

You might be eligible for Cold Weather Payments if you’re getting:

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit
  • Support for Mortgage Interest

Find out more about the Cold Weather Payments and see if you’re eligible here.

Winter Fuel Payment 

This is available to people who were born on or before 26 September 1955. It’s an annual one-off payment between £100 and £300, to help pay for your heating over the winter. 

Find out more about the Winter Fuel Payment here.

Charities and organisations that offer advice and support

For free, independent advice on debt, energy bills, and other areas where you might need support, these organisations and charities can also help: 

Citizens Advice

Visit your local branch, or their websites: for England and Wales and for Scotland. You can speak to an adviser online, in person, or over the phone: 0800 144 8848 (England), 0800 702 2020 (Wales), and 0800 028 1456 (Scotland). 

National Debtline

Call 0808 808 4000 or visit the National Debtline website.

Step Change Debt Charity

Call 0800 138 1111 or visit the Step Change Debt Charity website

Civil Legal Advice

Call 0845 345 4 345 for free, confidential legal advice in England and Wales, if you’re eligible for legal aid. Find out if you are here.

Have you heard about the Priority Services Register?

You can sign up if you or anyone in your household might need practical support, when it comes to managing your energy. That could be because of a medical reason, you’re pregnant, you have children under 5, you’re over 65, or you don’t read or speak English well.

Find out more about the Priority Services Register here.