If your home is on a heat network
Coronavirus - if you’re struggling to pay your energy bills
Tell your supplier if you can’t afford your bills because of coronavirus. You’ll find their contact details on your bill or on their website.
For more advice, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline: 0808 223 1133.
Or you can get help from Home Energy Scotland. Find guidance and contact details on the Home Energy Scotland website.
You might also be able to apply for a crisis grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund.
Heat networks (sometimes called 'district' or 'communal' heating) are a way of heating blocks of flats or groups of homes.
If your home is on a heat network:
- you can't switch your heat network supplier
- you might pay your heating bills to a management company or housing association - if you're renting this might be part of your rent
- you might have to pay for maintenance costs - how much you need to pay can change over time
If you already live in a home on a heat network and you're having problems there are steps you can take to solve them.
If you haven't decided to move in yet it's worth checking how much you'll pay first.
If you're thinking about moving into a home on a heat network
Ask whoever you're buying or renting from for details about your energy supply.
It's worth asking for everything in writing and keeping it in case you need it in future.
- a copy of the energy performance certificate - this will tell you how much your heat should cost
- information about any maintenance charges and service fees you'll have to pay
- contact details for the heat network supplier and information about who you should speak to if there's a problem
You should also check whether the heat network supplier is part of a consumer scheme like the Heat Trust. If it is, you'll have more protection if you have problems with your heat supply.
You can also get an estimate of how much you'll pay using the Heat Trust calculator. You'll need to know who the heat network supplier is.
If you think something seems unfair you should ask about it and get your answer in writing. Keep it as evidence in case you need to challenge something in future.
If you think you've been wrongly billed by your heat network supplier
If you think a bill you've been sent is wrong you should contact your heat network supplier to challenge it.
You can find your heat network supplier's contact details on their website. If you don't know who your heat network supplier is, ask your home's management company or whoever you pay rent to.
When you speak to your heat network supplier, ask them to explain how the bill has been calculated.
Check your tenancy or lease agreement to see if it matches what you think you should be paying.
If you still think the bill is wrong or unfair you should complain.
If you think the bill is right but you can't afford to pay it, ask if you can arrange a repayment plan. If your heat network supplier won't agree to a repayment plan you can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer service for more help.
If you're renting your home and pay for your heat as part of your rent, you could be at risk of eviction if you get behind on your payments. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help if you're in this situation.
If you often struggle to pay your bills
It's worth asking your heat network supplier if they can move you to a cheaper tariff. Check the terms and conditions of any new tariff they offer to make sure you'll pay less.
Check if you can get any grants or benefits to help pay for your energy bills.
You should also make sure your home is energy efficient so you only pay for the energy you need.
Complaining about your heat network supplier
You might need to complain if:
- you were sent a bill you think is too high
- there's been a problem with your heat supply
- you think something in your contract is wrong
It's best to follow your supplier's complaints procedure - you should be able to find this on their website or a recent bill.
If complaining doesn't solve your problem
If complaining to your heat network supplier doesn't help you should ask them if they're a Heat Trust member.
If they are, 8 weeks after your first complaint to your supplier you can complain to the Energy Ombudsman Service to help resolve your problem.
If they aren't a Heat Trust member you should ask if they're willing to use an 'alternative dispute resolution' scheme to help solve the problem. This means an independent organisation looks at the problem and makes recommendations for how to resolve it. Your heat supplier might not have to follow the scheme's recommendations.
If they won't use alternative dispute resolution, or they refuse to follow any recommendations if you do use one, contact the Consumer service for help.
If you live in a council or housing association home you can ask the Housing Ombudsman to help with your problem.
If you're renting from a private landlord and you think they've broken your contract by charging you too much for your heating you might be able to take them to court.
Contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help deciding whether you should take your landlord to court.
An adviser can't give legal advice, but can give information on how to find legal advice and help you to find out if you're eligible for legal aid.
If you need more help
Contact the Citizens Advice Consumer service - they can help you understand your heating costs and the steps you can take to deal with your problem.