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Blog Post 4 January 2023

Energy bills support in Northern Ireland explained

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Please note that this page contains information and links most relevant for people living in Northern Ireland.

With the current cost-of-living crisis, we all need to review our energy spend and make small changes to try and save money.

There’s also lots of advice available to support you through these challenging times.

Carry on reading to find out more about the support you can get with your energy bills if you live in Northern Ireland.

How can I budget for my heating and electricity and reduce my energy usage?

Electricity and gas

Now’s a good time to check that you’re on the best tariff. You might save money by switching supplier and changing the way you pay for your electricity and gas eg by changing to a direct debit.

It’s also a good idea to take regular meter readings and give them to your supplier so that your bills are accurate.

The Consumer Council for Northern Ireland has a free energy price comparison tool with updated gas and electricity tariffs. You can use it to check how much money you could save.  

There are also ways you can save money and energy just by making small changes. Our quick tips on saving energy in your home are a great place to start.

Oil stamp saving scheme

Some local councils and not for profit organisations in Northern Ireland have set up oil stamp saving schemes to help consumers pay for home heating oil.

Through these schemes, if you live in specific council areas, you can buy home heating oil stamps from certain shops or council offices and spread the cost of paying for oil.

You collect the stamps in a savings card, which is like a savings book, and then use the total value of the stamps to pay for all or part of an oil order.

The stamps can be used with oil suppliers that are taking part in the scheme.

Contact your local council or check their website for more information about this scheme.

Oil buying scheme

Social enterprise buying groups and clubs have also been set up in Northern Ireland to bulk buy oil for their members.

These groups/clubs can get discounts from oil suppliers by buying in bulk. No matter how much oil you buy, everyone pays the same price per litre and benefits from the lower prices.  

You can check if there’s an oil buying club in your area through the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

PayPoint payments

The Northern Ireland Oil Federation is working with PayPoint so you can make regular payments towards oil instead of having to pay for a delivery in one go.

You can top up PayPoint cards with small amounts of money at local shops that have a PayPoint. You then use the card to pay towards an oil delivery.

You can ask your oil supplier if they offer PayPoint as a payment option.

Financial help

There’s financial help available from the UK Government to support you during the energy crisis.

Cost of living payment

If you’re a low-income family and in receipt of means tested benefits, you should have received £650 in 2022. 

Disability cost of living payment

If you’re eligible for disability benefits, you should have received £150 in 2022. 

Pensioner cost of living payment

If you were born before 25 September 1956, you could get between £250 and £600 towards bills through the winter fuel payment. You should have received this in November or December 2022. If you haven’t, get in touch with the winter fuel payment centre.

Find out more about cost of living payments for 2023/2024.


Energy Price Guarantee and the Energy Bills Support scheme for Northern Ireland

As in the rest of the UK, there’s an Energy Price Guarantee scheme for Northern Ireland’s natural gas and electricity users until March 2023.

The scheme reduces the price suppliers charge customers for units of gas and electricity. This came in on 1 November 2022 in Northern Ireland.

Households in Northern Ireland will also get £600 through the Energy Bills Support Scheme. This is the combined total from the £400 from the Energy Bills Support Scheme Northern Ireland (EBSS NI) and the £200 from the Alternative Fuel Payment (AFP) scheme.

The payment will be made through electricity suppliers. This will be a one-off payment, and these will start in January 2023.

Your electricity supplier will give you more details about the scheme, and you don’t need to apply for it.

How do I get the £600 payment from the Energy Bills Support Scheme in Northern Ireland?

If you have a domestic meter and an electricity contract, you’ll get this payment in one of two ways.

If you’re a direct debit customer

You’ll get the payment directly into your bank account.

If you have a credit account or a prepay keypad meter

Your electricity supplier will send you a voucher. The voucher will be a letter with a barcode, and you need to redeem it at a Post Office.

The Post Office will either pay the £600 directly into your bank account or give you £600 in cash if it’s available.

Vouchers are only valid until the 31 March 2023, so you need to use it by then.

The Post Office will need to verify the voucher first before paying you the £600, so you need to bring a few things with you when you go.

If you:

  • Want the payment directly into your bank account, you need to give the Post Office your bank card or account details. You also need to bring the voucher and proof of address with you. 
  • Want a cash payment, you need to bring the voucher, proof of address and photo ID with you to the Post Office. The name on the photo ID and the voucher has to match.
  • Use a prepay keypad meter, you need to bring the voucher, your keypad app or top up card, and proof of your address with you to the Post Office. The name on your proof of address and the voucher has to match.

The UK Government has more information about how to redeem your voucher and a checklist of what you need to bring with you to the Post Office. This includes the forms of photo ID and proof of address that Post Offices will accept. You’ll also find information about what you have to do if you need someone else to take the voucher to the Post Office for you.

If you don’t have a domestic meter or you have a non-domestic electricity supply, you’ll still get this payment. Right now, there aren’t any details available about how this will happen.

Where do I find further help or advice?

If you’re struggling to pay your gas or electricity bill, or you’re in debt, get in touch with your supplier first.

If you’d like tailored energy advice, you can contact the Northern Ireland Energy Advice Line on 0800 111 4455 or fill out a get in touch form.

If you’d prefer to email, you can send your question to An energy adviser from Northern Ireland Energy Advice Service will get back to you.

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Last updated: 4 January 2023