Getting help if you’re struggling with your energy payments

The government has announced measures to help people with the rising cost of living. We’re working through what this means for Bulb members and will provide an update soon.

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If you’re struggling with your home energy payments, we’re here to help. This article explains the different kinds of support available, depending on whether you:

There’s separate advice for businesses.


If you’re struggling to afford your energy

For free, or low-cost changes you can make to lower your energy bills, see:

If you have a top up (prepay) meter

If you’ve run out of credit and Emergency Credit on your top up meter, and you’re struggling to pay for your energy, we may be able to offer you temporary credit, also called discretionary credit.

You’ll pay back anything you borrow when you’re able to top up your meter again. If you need to talk to someone about getting temporary credit, get in touch.

If you have debt on your top up meter and you are finding your repayments hard to manage, let us know. We may be able to reduce the amount you’re paying back each time you top up.  

If you are finding your money hard to manage, there are independent organisations that offer free, confidential advice. You may also be eligible for benefits or a grant. Read more about finding independent debt advice and financial support.

If you pay by Direct Debit or straight from your bank

If you don’t have a top up (prepayment) meter, and pay for your energy monthly, we offer support if you are struggling with your payments or you have built up energy debt.

To start, you might be able to lower your monthly payment amount in your Bulb account. Check your payment settings, where we’ll tell you the minimum amount you can set your payments to.

If the minimum amount is too high, get in touch. We'll talk you through the ways we can help. For example, we may be able to: 

  • give more detailed energy saving advice to help you lower your bills
  • help you find out if you qualify for any discounts or grants towards your energy payments
  • reduce your monthly payments for 60 days so you have time to focus on getting debt advice
  • set up a payment plan to help you manage your debt
  • set up a way to pay for your energy directly from your benefit payments (called Third Party Deductions)
  • install a top up (prepayment) meter, which can make it easier to budget, or help you choose a different way to pay
  • put you in touch with other organisations that can help you manage debt 

To make sure we’re giving you the right support, we may ask you to take a financial assessment with one of our partner organisations. They are independent organisations regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. You can take a financial assessment online, or arrange to take one over the phone. Find out more about taking a financial assessment.

If you want to change how you pay for your energy

Most Bulb members pay for their energy in advance by monthly Direct Debit. Some people find it easier to pay for their energy by topping up their meters. This means you pay for your gas or electricity as you use it. It can make it easier to budget because you can see exactly how much you’re spending each day. You can apply to get a top up meter installed at your home.

If you're not able to pay by Direct Debit or by topping up your meter, there are some other ways to pay for your energy. 


If you want to apply for financial support

As your energy supplier, we offer:

  • the Warm Home Discount – a payment of £140 credit to eligible members who need financial support with their energy costs during winter
  • the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) – financial support to make home improvements that will lower your energy costs.

There are many reasons why you may be eligible for financial support. Find out more about other benefits and grants you may be eligible for.


If you want independent help and advice

If you are struggling to pay your bills, or need help to manage debt, there are independent organisations that offer free, confidential advice.

If you’re not sure where to start, StepChange is a charity that helps thousands of people overcome debt every week. Try their:

  • 60-second debt test - answer a few simple questions to find out if you need debt advice, and what your next steps could be
  • Debt Remedy tool - answer questions about your financial situation to understand what to do next, where to get further support and guidance and how to start to take control of your money
  • Guide to the Breathing Space Scheme - this is a guide to the government scheme which could help relieve some of the pressure and stress caused by being in debt

For more information, see our list of trusted organisations and charities that offer free debt advice.

Energy payments and your wellbeing

Your wellbeing is more important than your energy account. If you’re going through personal difficulty, we recommend contacting someone you trust, or a professional such as a GP.

There are lots of services just a phone call away that can provide expert mental health support. For example:

  • Mind, who offer information and support if you're living with a mental health problem, or supporting someone who is
  • The Samaritans, who are available 24 hours a day if you need to talk to someone about how you’re feeling - call them free on 116 123, or text SHOUT to 85258
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