Worried about winter energy bills? The Fuel Allowance or Household Benefits Package could be a big help
It's worth checking now to see if you're eligible
The end of the summer is fast approaching, and with it comes a return to colder days, darker nights, and a move from salads to hot dinners.
And, while cosy evenings in front of the TV are all well and good, winter also inevitably brings with it a big increase in the amount of energy we’ll all be using in the home.
In the past month, eight out of ten suppliers in the Irish market implemented price hikes, which added up to €180 to the average dual fuel bill - so these increases are going to have a massive impact on consumers coming into the winter months.
How can I cut back on my winter energy bills?
First thing’s first, if you haven’t switched in the last year, you should compare energy deals and switch now - the average dual fuel customer can save up to €331 by doing so, and it only takes a few minutes.
You can also make big savings by taking some energy-saving measures around the home.
See if you’re eligible for the Fuel Allowance or Household Benefits Package
If you’re already on the cheapest plan and have made some energy-saving changes at home, but you’re still worried about winter bills, it’s worth seeing if you’re eligible for any allowances that can help.
The Fuel Allowance is a means-tested payment which aims to help pensioners and other low-income households with the cost of heating their homes during the winter months.
This allowance is a weekly payment of €22.50, and it is normally paid for 26 weeks of the year, so it amounts to a significant total payment of €585. Last year, an extra week was added on, as a result of the severe weather in February.
For the first time in 2017-18, it was also possible to have the payment issued in two lump sums, which could be a good option if you have home heating oil, as it allows you to stock up at two different points over the winter.
The 2018-19 Fuel Allowance season will begin at the start of October. For more information, and to see if you’re eligible, take a look at the Department of Social Protection website.
The Household Benefits Package
This is a package of allowances that aims to help consumers with the costs of running their home.
You qualify for this if you’re over 70 - but people under 70 also qualify in certain circumstances.
If you’re eligible, you’ll get either an Electricity or a Gas Allowance of €35 per month, which in most cases will be paid to your bank or post office account. Once you qualify for the Household Benefits Package, you’ll also get your TV Licence for free. Again, you can find out more from the Department of Social Protection.
If you’d like to make some bigger energy-efficiency changes to your home, there is also a variety of grants available, which can be a big help. Our guide to energy-efficiency has all of the information you need on this.