Fuel allowance season has started - make sure you don’t miss out

The season started on 3 October and will run until Friday 31 March 2017.

Maeve McLaughlin
by Maeve McLaughlin on 19th October, 2016

It really seems like, over the last few days, winter has started to kick in. The nights are getting darker and there’s a definite chill in the air.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Fuel Allowance season is upon us. It started on 3 October and will run until next March.

What is the Fuel Allowance?

The Fuel Allowance is a payment under Ireland’s National Fuel Scheme to help pensioners and other low-income households with the cost of heating their homes during the winter months.

It is paid to people who are dependent on long-term social welfare payments and who are unable to provide for their own heating needs.

Fuel Allowance is paid with along with social welfare payments on the day that the claimant is usually paid. For the 2016/17 season, the Fuel Allowance stands at €22.50 per week.

Only one person per household can receive the allowance.

How do I know if I’m eligible?

The Department of Social Protection has all of the information you need so you can find out whether or not you qualify for a Fuel Allowance - it is a means-tested payment.

In short, you may qualify if you are resident in the State and receiving one or more qualifying payments or if you are taking part in certain schemes - for example Back-to-Work Allowance, Rural Social Scheme, Tús, or JobBridge - and are entitled to keep your secondary benefits.

There are other conditions that applicants must meet, for example they - or other members of their household - must be unable to provide for their heating needs from their own resources. In addition, the claimant must live alone or only with:

  • A qualified spouse/civil partner/cohabitant or qualified child(ren);
  • A person in receipt of a qualifying payment who would be entitled to the allowance in their own right;
  • A person in receipt of Carer’s Allowance or Benefit in respect of providing full-time care and attention to the Fuel Allowance applicant or their qualified spouse/civil partner/cohabitant or qualified child(ren); or
  • A person receiving short-term Jobseeker’s Allowance or the Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance (less than 391 days).

How do I apply?

You can pick up an NFS form from your local post office, or on the website of the Department of Social Protection.

Any payments will not be backdated to the start of the Fuel Allowance season, so if you haven’t yet applied, it’s important to do so as soon as possible in order to get the maximum benefit from it.

What if I do not qualify for Fuel Allowance?

If you don’t qualify for the Fuel Allowance, don’t despair. It’s still possible to save money on your gas and electricity bills by switching providers. At the moment, the average dual fuel customer can save €358 by switching from standard tariffs to the cheapest deals on the market.

It’s really important to ensure you keep well and warm in the winter time, so - as well as switching to the cheapest energy deal - you could try these tips to help you save money on your bills while still staying warm:

  • Turn your thermostat down by 1 degree celsius - this can save you up to 10% on your heating bills.
  • Power off appliances completely when you are not using them, rather than leaving them on standby. You should also plug out things like chargers when they’re not in use.
  • If you’re washing clothes, always wash full loads, rather than just a few items, and try to wash at a lower temperature if at all possible.
  • Replace old bulbs with energy efficient ones - this will save you money on lighting costs for the lifetime of the bulb.
  • Make sure your home doesn’t have any draughts, and close curtains to keep the heat in at night-time.
  • Ensure your hot water tank is insulated - with a lagging jacket or similar - in order to keep that immersion use as low as possible.

Keep warm in winter. Save money on your energy bills by switching.