Winter fuel allowance
This guide is intended to provide general guidance only. It is not intended to give you advice on your personal financial circumstances. You should seek independent professional advice if you’re unsure about anything mentioned in this guide or what choices to make.
Sometimes you may face a hard choice in winter – whether to keep the heating down and shiver or turn it up and overspend your budget.
That’s why the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) provides a special cold weather payment, to help certain qualifying households manage when the temperature falls below zero for seven days in a row.
The 2015 winter fuel allowance is designed to help low-income families, particularly the elderly or those with young or disabled children, who could not otherwise afford the level of heating they need to keep warm during a freezing cold snap.
Who gets the 2015 winter fuel allowance?
You’ll almost certainly qualify for DWP cold weather payments if you get Pension Credit.
However, that doesn’t mean there’s a special cold weather payment age. These aren’t just winter fuel allowances for pensioners. You could also qualify for a cold weather payment entitlement if you get any of the benefit combinations marked ‘yes’ in this table:
How much winter fuel allowance should I get?
You’ll get a £25 cold winter payment for each week of freezing weather between 1 November and 31 March. That means seven days in a row when the temperature is recorded as, or forecast to be, an average of zero degrees Celsius or lower.
When will I get the allowance?
Each time there is an extremely cold week, you should get a payment within 14 working days.
How will I know if my area’s been cold enough for me to get a cold weather allowance?
From 1 November onwards each winter, you can find out by checking the government’s online cold weather payment postcode search. That will tell you which areas have had, or are forecast to have, temperatures of zero degrees or lower for more than seven days in a row.
Will I get the allowance automatically or do I need to claim it?
You don’t need to claim your payments. If you’re eligible, you’ll get them automatically.
However, if you’re on Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related ESA, and you’ve had a baby, or a child under 5 has come to live with you, you may now be eligible. So you’ll need to tell your Pension Centre or JobCentre Plus office to make sure you get your 2015 winter fuel allowance.
You also need to tell them if you go into hospital, as this could affect your payments.
How will I get my allowance?
They’ll be paid straight into the same bank or building society account as your benefit payments.
I’m sure I was entitled to a winter fuel allowance recently but I didn’t get it. What should I do?
If you’re sure you qualify for cold weather payments and it’s recently been very cold in your area, first check the government’s online cold weather payment postcode search (available from 1 November onwards each winter). That will tell you whether it really was colder than zero degrees for seven days in a row.
Then tell your Pension Centre or JobCentre Plus and they will help you find out what’s gone wrong.
What other schemes could help me stay warm over the winter?
There are a range of other schemes and grants that could help you afford to heat your home.
Winter fuel allowance
If you’re old enough to get a state pension, you could get the winter fuel payment (also known as the winter fuel allowance), a tax-free heating allowance. It’s a yearly one-off payment of between £100 and £200 that isn’t linked to temperature, and if you’re on a state pension you’ll get it automatically. If you’re over 80 you’ll get a higher payment, but if you haven’t yet reached pensionable age, you won’t qualify for this payment.
As with cold weather payments, you don’t need to apply; if you’ve reached the relevant age, you’ll receive it automatically. It will be paid into the same bank or building society account as your state pension.
Warm home discount
This is a government initiative that provides rebates on energy bills – it was £140 for winter 2014/15. You get it as a one-off discount on your energy bill or as a voucher if you have a pre-payment meter. It’s usually paid sometime between October and March. To qualify, your energy supplier needs to have signed up to the scheme, and you should be getting the guarantee credit element of pension credit.
If you’re getting the warm home discount, you’ll get a letter telling you so, and the money will be deducted automatically from your energy bill.
The Green Deal home improvement fund
The Green Deal could be right for you if you think your property could benefit from energy-saving improvements.
If so, you might be able to claim some of the cost back from the government. You can apply for up to £1,250 towards the cost of installing any two of these:
- A condensing gas boiler on mains gas
- Double or triple glazing that’s replacing single glazing
- Secondary glazing
- New energy-efficient external doors
- Cavity wall insulation
- Floor insulation
- Insulating a flat roof
- Insulating a room in the roof
- A replacement warm air unitFan-assisted storage heaters
- A waste-water heat recovery system
- There are various ways to find out whether your property is suitable for energy-saving improvements through the Green Deal:
- Make an appointment to talk to a Green Deal assessor or provider
- Use the energy grants calculator at
- Talk to the Energy Savings Advice Service if you’re in England or Wales, or Home Energy Scotland if you’re in Scotland
- Visit to see whether you could qualify and find out about Green Deal assessors.
How else can I cut my energy costs?
A. Use less energy
The best way to use less energy and reduce your bills is to make sure your home and all your electrical appliances are working as efficiently as possible.
If you insulate your roof and walls, improve your heating system and are generally quite careful, you can save around £300 a year. You’ll also cut your home’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by around 1.5 tonnes – so you’re helping the planet, too.
Here are our top ten ways to become more energy efficient:
- When you boil a kettle, only use as much water as you need
- Turn appliances off at the wall – don’t leave them on standby
- Use energy-saving light bulbs
- Defrost your freezer regularly
- Fill that cavity! Cavity wall insulation can cut around £115 off your heating bill each year
- Get draught excluders for outside doors, windows and letterboxes
- Replace all your old windows with double glazing – it could save you around £135 each year
- If your boiler’s more than 15 years old, look into replacing it with a new A-rated condensing boiler
- Slip an insulating jacket on your hot water tank – you could save around £35 a year
- When using your washing machine, never set it higher than 30˚
- See our full energy saving guide for more details.
B. Switch providers
No matter which energy company you’re currently with, it’s always worth checking the market regularly to see if you could save money by switching.
At OVO, we know that price matters – that’s why we keep our costs down, to help you save. You'll also get our 3% OVO interest reward on any credit in your account.
See how your current provider matches up next to our range of energy plans – you can compare energy prices for our electricity, gas and dual fuel plan. They’re based on a medium user, paying by Direct Debit, averaged across all UK regions. It’s the quick and easy way to compare utility prices.
Check our range of energy plans and see how much you could save now.