Reducing your bills with energy efficiency

It’s important to look after yourself as best you can when you have cancer. An energy efficient home saves you money, keeps you warm, and helps look after the planet.

Energy saving ideas

A person with red painted fingernails putting their hands up against a radiator.

Making some simple changes can help you save money and reduce your impact on the environment. These tips are part of our In Our Power campaign to highlight how Macmillan can support you this winter. But our teams are here to support you all year round.

  • Heating controls

    You can save money by using heating controls such as a thermostat, smart thermostat or programmer.

  • Energy saving schemes 

    You may be able to access government or energy company schemes such as Energy Company Obligation, Nest (Wales), Home Energy Efficiency Programmes (Scotland), or the Affordable Warmth and Boiler Replacement Scheme (Northern Ireland). Contact your energy supplier for more information and to see if you’re eligible.

  • Energy efficiency ratings

    Products have an energy rating on a coloured label from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient). Some products can have a rating of A+, A++ and A+++.

  • Checking your energy bill

    Make sure your bill is accurate – take regular meter readings and send them to your supplier. Contact your supplier if you think your bill is incorrect.

  • Smart meters

    Smart meters can tell you when you used energy and how much it cost. They can also let your supplier take meter readings without you contacting them.

  • Turn off the tap

    Turn off the tap when doing things like brushing your teeth and you’re not using the water.

  • Use a water efficient shower head

    Many water companies offer these for free.

The Fuel Bank Foundation offers tips and tools to help you become more energy efficient. A lot of energy used in our homes for things like heating, lighting, and cooking is wasted through windows, floors, draughts and walls. Just making a few changes to reduce the amount of energy wasted could both reduce the amount of energy you use and lower your energy bills.

The list below is produced by the Fuel Bank Foundation and demonstrates small steps you can take to make your home more energy efficient.

No cost

  • Switch off lights that aren't being used.
  • Turn appliances off at the wall, rather than leaving them on standby.
  • Use the economy button on washing machines and other appliances.
  • Close the curtains at night, open them in the day.
  • Only boil the amount of water you need in the kettle.
  • Check you’re using your heating in the most efficient way – access a useful ‘Using your central heating system’ guide.
  • Defrost the fridge and freezer regularly.

Lower cost

  • loft insulation
  • domestic hot water cylinder jacket
  • low energy light bulbs
  • thermostatic radiator valves
  • reflective foil behind radiators
  • regular servicing of central heating.

Help with boilers

Using a more efficient boiler can reduce your energy bills. You may be able to get support with boiler installation and improvements.
  • England, Scotland and Wales
    • In England, Scotland and Wales, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO3) is a government-scheme to help lower energy bills and increase energy efficiency.
    • Under ECO3, you may be able to access: broken gas boiler replacement, cavity wall insulation, and loft insulation. You may be required to contribute financially and amounts can vary between suppliers.
    • You can find out if you may be eligible for ECO3 support and find out more about the scheme on the Ofgem website. The scheme runs until 31 March 2022.
  • Wales
    • The Welsh government runs a scheme called Nest. Nest can provide energy advice and home improvements.
    • The Nest scheme can install free boilers, central heating systems and insulation to help households on low incomes keep warm and reduce their energy bills.
    • Check the Nest website to find out if you are eligible for support.
    • You can call Nest on 0808 808 22 44 or request a call back online.
  • Northern Ireland
    • In Northern Ireland, you may be able to get help replacing an inefficient boiler from Northern Ireland Direct, which is run by the government.
    • Northern Ireland Direct may be able to support you with: replacing an inefficient boiler with a more energy efficient condensing oil or gas boiler; switching from oil to gas; or switching to a wood pellet boiler. They may also be able to give you a grant of up to £1,000 to pay for a new boiler, dependent on total gross annual income.
    • You can find out if you are eligible for the Boiler Replacement Scheme on the Northern Ireland Direct website. You can contact the Boiler Replacement Scheme team on 0344 892 0900 or email

Disabled Facilities Grants

You may be able to access Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG) to help with the costs of improving or installing your central heating system.


Boiler and Energy Efficiency assistance is not a service Macmillan can offer. Macmillan can signpost you to schemes and support you may be able to access. Macmillan cannot endorse or guarantee the quality of advice or service that may be offered to you.

If you choose to accept a service or product recommended by any of the schemes mentioned, they are responsible for any assistance they provide you. Macmillan cannot be held liable for any losses, damages, claims, costs and expenses arising as a result of the services provided by a supplier.

Who can help?

You may be able to access free or subsidised energy saving improvements, such as:

  • a replacement boiler. Heating often makes up a large part of a household’s energy bills, so a new boiler could make a big difference
  • loft insulation to keep your home warmer
  • cavity wall insulation to help reduce heat loss from your home.

You can also reach out to the energy efficiency experts for more information:

  • Energy Saving Trust – Offers independent, expert advice on saving energy in your home, and information about funding requests for energy efficiency improvements.
  • Home Energy Scotland – Offers free and impartial energy advice funded by the Scottish government. Their network of local advice centres, covering all of Scotland, provides householders with information on available financial support, ways to make homes warmer and reduce energy costs.
  • Centre for Sustainable Energy – Offers a wealth of information on their website, including lots of ways you can be more energy efficient and signposting to further support and schemes which may be available to you.