Help with bills if you use alternative fuels

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

If you don’t have a contract with a gas supplier you’ll use other types of fuel to keep your home warm. These could include alternative fuels like:

  • oil

  • liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)

  • wood

  • solid fuel - such as coal

  • biomass - such as wood pellets or agricultural waste

If you can’t afford to buy fuel

You might be able to get extra financial help if you:

  • rely on oil, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), coal or wood as your main source of heating

  • aren’t on the gas grid

You’ll need to show that you can't heat your home because you can't afford to buy fuel - or you might not be able to afford it soon.

Your local Citizens Advice will need to apply for extra financial help for you.

If you think you're eligible for help, talk to an adviser.

Check if you can get help from your local council

You should check with your local council to see if they offer local grants or schemes for people who use alternative fuels.

Find your local council on GOV.UK.

Check what other support you can get for different types of fuel

You might be able to get more support to help you with the costs of getting fuel.

If you use oil

You might be able to save on oil costs by joining an ‘oil club’. You can join an oil club to combine your order for heating oil with other people's. There might be an oil club near you if you live in a rural area away from other people. 

Check if there’s an oil club in your local area - you can search online, on social media or on village notice boards. If there’s not already an oil club in your area, you can set up one yourself.

If you want to set up an oil club

Check if there are others in your local area who would be interested in joining. Ask on social media, on village notice boards and in shop windows. 

There’s no rule on the size of oil clubs, but larger clubs can sometimes get better savings. 

You should set up a terms of reference for your oil club which explains what people can expect. If you want to charge members for the service, make sure you make this clear.

Once you’ve set up your oil club, you should:

  • set up a list of oil suppliers and their prices - you should review this list regularly as prices can often change

  • agree order dates for the year ahead

  • try to place orders for winter early in the summer or autumn - you might be able to get better discounts

If you’re 75 years old or over

If your supplier is a member of the UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association Ltd (UKIFDA), they must make sure you get the fuel you need. This is called the ‘Cold Weather Priority Initiative’.

You, or someone you live with, must be aged 75 or over. Your supplier should automatically add you to the ‘Cold Weather Priority Initiative’, but you should check you’re on it. 

You might have to ask them to add you. You don’t have to pay for this.

Check if your supplier is a UKIFDA member on the UKIFDA website.

If you use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)

If you have a storage tank, you’ll usually be tied into a 2-year contract. Ask your supplier when your contract ends. You might be able to find a better deal with another supplier.

Most suppliers will let you keep your old tank. If they want to fit their own tank, they must pay for this - you can’t be charged for the removal of the old tank.

If you use coal or wood

It’s usually cheaper to buy your coal and wood in bulk. You might be able to find a better deal with another supplier - make sure you look around for deals regularly.

You might also want to look into using different types of coal or wood. Some might be more energy efficient than others, which could save you money.

You can check how to use your solid fuel heating system efficiently on the Solid Fuel Association website.

If you want to move onto the gas grid

If you’re finding it difficult to use alternative fuel, you might find it easier to move onto the gas grid. 

You should contact your local gas network to check the costs. Your gas network is responsible for the gas piping - they don’t supply gas. You might have to pay to get:

  • your home connected to the gas grid

  • a gas meter fitted

If you live in a rural area and your property has never been connected to the gas grid, you might also need to pay to have pipes laid. This can be expensive.

If you’re struggling with energy bills and living costs, check with your local gas network if you can get connected for a lower price, or for free. 

Check who your local gas network operator is on the Energy Networks website.

You’ll also need to choose a company to supply your gas. This will be the company that will send you bills. You can check how to get your home connected to a gas supply.

If you have electricity debts

You might be able to get help to pay your electricity bill, such as from the Energy Bills Support Scheme or Warm Home Discount Scheme. 

Check if you can get help to pay your electricity bills.

Getting a grant for energy-saving home improvements

You might be able to get help with the cost of things like insulation, a new boiler or improvements to your heating.

Check if you can get help making energy-saving improvements to your home.

If you’re struggling with the cost of living

If you don’t have enough money to live on, you might be able to get help to afford essentials like bills and food. Check if you can get help with the cost of living.

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Page last reviewed on 24 February 2023