Low cream radiator under a window

Are you eligible for the Fuel Allowance? It could be a big help

This is paid for 26 weeks each year to eligible consumers.

The arrival of autumn and winter usually means rocketing energy bills, as we’re spending more time at home, with the lights, TV and heating on.

This time of year also signifies the start of Fuel Allowance season, which kicks off this year the week of 2 October.

What is the Fuel Allowance?

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

It is normally paid for 26 weeks of the year - over the coldest months - and the weekly payment is €22.50.

For the first time this year, instead of receiving the allowance weekly, eligible consumers can also opt to have the total allowance of €585 paid in 2 lump sums.

Are you eligible for the Fuel Allowance?

The Fuel Allowance is a means-tested payment.

If you’re dependent on long-term social welfare payments - such as State pension, the One-parent Family Payment, or Jobseeker’s Allowance - and are unable to provide for your own heating needs, you may be eligible.

The Department of Social Protection has all of the information you’ll need in order to see if you qualify.

If you are eligible for the Fuel Allowance, and opt to receive the payment weekly, it will be paid along with social welfare payments on the day you are usually paid.

You should apply as early as possible for the allowance, as any applications received after 2 October will not have payments backdated.

If you’d like to receive the payments in 2 lump sums, you need to apply before 15 September.

Are there other allowances for gas and electricity?

If you’re not eligible for the Fuel Allowance, you may still be able to get either an Electricity or Gas Allowance under the Household Benefits Package.

This is a package of allowances which 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.

The Department of Social Protection has more information.

Electricity Allowance and Natural Gas Allowance

If you’re eligible for the Household Benefits Package, 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.

However, if you’re a customer of Electric Ireland or Bord Gáis Energy, the allowance will be paid directly to your supplier and they’ll deduct it from your bills.

Once you qualify for the Household Benefits Package, you’ll also get your TV Licence for free.

Switching gas and electricity helps you save

If you don’t qualify for any of these allowances - or you want to save even more - switching supplier for gas and electricity could pocket you up to another €324 per year.

Switching is quick and easy using Switcher.ie’s free, impartial gas and electricity comparison tool, so why not see if you can get a better deal, before the cold weather really sets in,

And, if you receive the Household Benefits Package, make sure you let the Department know if you do switch energy supplier, so that they are aware of how to pay your allowance to you.