Turning off the heat to make ends meet – what you could do when bills are too high

26% of renters have turned the heating off to ensure they can meet their monthly rent. Get tips to manage bills without sacrificing comfort.

cartoon thermostat

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It’s a tough time for many people who rent their homes in the UK.

Imagine having to choose between staying warm or paying rent.

Sadly, this is the reality for about 26% of tenants who have had to turn off their heating just to afford their rent.

Sacrificing basic needs

But it’s not just heating that’s being sacrificed.

A new study from has brought some worrying facts to light. Around 15% of tenants are skipping meals to manage their rent payments, and 7% are cutting down on using electrical items to save on energy costs.

These are tough choices that no one should have to make.

The pressure of rising costs

The cost of living is soaring, and with it, the stress levels of over half of the renters in the UK.

Many are worried about how they’ll find the money for their next rent payment.

It’s not just about money, though. More than a third of tenants say their mental health is suffering because of these financial pressures.

Rent prices on the rise

The situation is made worse by the fact that rent prices have gone up a lot.

According to the ONS, private rent in the UK went up by 6.2% in the 12 months leading up to November 2023, the largest annual percentage change since the data series began in January 2016. This makes it even harder for tenants to keep up.

Know your rights as a tenant

It’s important for renters to know their rights.

Rent increases should normally come with a month’s notice.

In a fixed-term tenancy, landlords can only increase rent once a year, and it should be fair, matching the prices of similar properties in the area.

However, even if it does go up just a bit, it can be too much for many overly stretched budgets.

Help with energy bills

If you’re finding it hard to pay your energy bill, there are a few things you can do to get help and save money on energy bills:

Speak to your energy supplier

The first step is to contact your energy supplier. They can help by setting up a payment plan that fits your budget. Some suppliers might offer a ‘Fuel Direct’ scheme where your bill is paid directly from your benefits.

Grants and schemes

There are several grants and schemes to help with energy bills. For example:

  • Warm Home Discount Scheme: This can knock £150 off your electricity bill during winter.
  • Winter Fuel Payment: If you’re of a certain age, you might get between £100 and £300 to help pay your heating bills.
  • Cold Weather Payment: You might get payments when it’s freezing: £25 every seven days of freezing weather between November and March.
  • Energy company schemes: Some energy companies have hardship funds or grants to help you pay off debts.
  • Charitable grants: Some charities help you pay your bills or buy energy-efficient appliances. Turn2us is an excellent place to start looking for such grants.

Benefits check

Make sure you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to. The extra income can help with your bills.

Debt advice services

If you’re struggling with debts, including energy bills, it’s a good idea to seek free advice from debt advice services.

Organisations like StepChange, Citizens Advice, and National Debtline offer free and impartial advice. They can help you understand your options and even negotiate with creditors on your behalf.

Check for local council support

Some local councils in the UK offer support for residents struggling with energy bills.

This might include one-off payments from the Household Support Fund or access to emergency funds.

Switch suppliers or tariffs

Sometimes, switching to a different energy supplier or a more affordable tariff can reduce your bills. Websites like Uswitch or MoneySuperMarket can help you compare prices.

The most important step is communicating with your energy supplier and seeking advice as soon as you realise you’re struggling.

They can provide specific guidance and options based on your situation. Taking action early can help prevent the problem from getting worse.

Naomi Willis
Latest posts by Naomi Willis (see all)

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