Free Electricity Allowance: What is it & do I qualify?
The Free Electricity Allowance is part of the Household Benefits Package. It's aim is to help people at risk of not being able to afford their electricity bills. Read on to learn more about the Free Electricity Allowance and find out if you qualify.
How much is the free electricity allowance?
The Free Electricity Allowance is currently set at €35 per month, or around €1.15 per day. Where possible, it is paid as a credit on one's electricity bill. If not possible, the amount will be paid on the first Tuesday of each month, either to the customer's bank account or to be picked up at the An Post.
This monthly allowance is allocated to qualifying individuals by the Department of Social Protection.
Who qualifies for the Free Electricity Allowance?
Any resident over 70 years of age is automatically entitled to the allowance. Persons under the age of 70 can also apply for the allowance if they satisfy certain conditions and receive certain benefits.
Only one individual per household can receive the allowance, regardless of the number of inhabitants who qualify for it. Make sure that the person who applies is the one whose name is on the electricity bill.
The Free Electricity Allowance for over 70s
Any Irish residents aged over 70 can apply for the Free Electricity Allowance. Applicants must:
- Live legally and permanently in Ireland
- Be the only person in their household who applies for and receives the allowance.
- Be the person whose name is registered on the electricity bill.
- Apply for a Public Services Card if you are requested to do so.
The Free Electricity Allowance for under 70s
For those residents who are not yet 70 years old, you can still receive the Free Electricity Allowance (or the Free Gas Allowance) if live with your spouse, civil partner or another person and either:
- You are receiving an increase in your qualifying social welfare payment for them
- They receive their own qualifying social welfare payment
- They receive a social welfare payment not listed in one of the categories below or they satisfy a means test.
To receive the Free Electricity Allowance, you must also satisfy one of the conditions below.
1. Applicants that receive the Full-Time Carer’s Allowance
Any Irish resident who receives the Full-Time Carer’s Allowance and lives with the person they care for may apply for the Free Electricity Allowance.
The same applies to anyone who is the nominated carer of someone in receipt of either the Constant Attendance Allowance or the Prescribed Relatives Allowance.
2. You're between 66 and 70 years of age
Applicants between 66 and 70 years old can qualify for the Free Electricity Allowance if they either satisfy a means test or receive one of the following:
- State Pension
- Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Pension
- Deserted Wife's Benefit
- Garda Widow's Pension from the Department of Justice and Equality
- Social Security Pension or Benefit from a country covered by EU Regulations
- Social Security Pension or Benefit from a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement
3. Applicants under 66 years of age
Applicants under 66 must be receiving at least one of the following in order to get the Free Electricity Allowance:
- Disability Allowance
- Invalidity Pension
- Blind Pension
- Incapacity Supplement with Disablement Pension (for at least 12 months)
- An equivalent Social Security Pension or Benefit from a country covered by EU Regulations
- An equivalent Social Security Pension or Benefit from a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement
What is the Free Gas Allowance?
The Free Gas Allowance is another allowance provided as part of the Household Benefits Package. As with the Free Electricity Allowance, it is also set at €35 per month.
Can I receive more than one allowance?
It is currently not possible to receive more than one allowance under the Household Benefits Package scheme. This means that if you receive the electricity allowance, you may not receive the gas allowance and vice versa.
However, in addition to the Free Electricity allowance, you may also be eligible for the Fuel Allowance (which is €28 per week during the winter months. You can receive payments from both the Home Benefits Package and the Fuel Allowance at the same time. For more information, head to our complete Fuel Allowance guide.
The Free Electricity Allowance and your TV licence
Note that if you receive a free electricity allowance or a free gas allowance, you are automatically entitled to a free TV licence the next time you need to renew your TV licence.
This means that if you have qualified for an allowance, the Department of Social Welfare will notify An Post that you are entitled to a free TV licence, and you won’t need to make a separate application for it.
Note that the free TV licence benefit only applies from the next date for renewal; that is to say you cannot apply for a refund or backdate it.
How is the Free Electricity Allowance paid?
Electric Ireland customers can avail of the handy option of the Free Electricity Allowance being directly applied to their bills. Customer with other electricity suppliers can either opt to receive the allowance in their bank account or collect it from An Post on the first Tuesday of every month.
How do I apply for the Free Electricity Allowance?
You can apply online for the free Electricity Allowance or the Free Gas Allowance, whichever option you prefer. You must have a MyGovID account in order to apply online. If you do not have an account, you can create one on the same webpage as the application.
You will be asked about the following details in the application:
- Your living situation — If you care for the person you live with , you will need to provide their PPS Number
- Your relationship details — This includes your status and your partner's PPS Number (if applicable)
- Your electricity/gas and TV license details — This includes your energy supplier and either your electricity MPRN or gas GPRN and you TV license reference number.
- Your payment details — Details of either the bank account into which you would like to receive the allowance or the post office for collection.
If you do not wish to apply online, you can also download the HB1 form, fill it out and send it to the following address:
Household Benefits Section,
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection,
Social Welfare Services,
For any queries, you can call the Free Electricity Allowance phone number (or for queries regarding the Free Gas Allowance) on either 071 915 7100 or LoCall 1890 500 000.
Other ways to save money on your electricity bill
One of the quickest and easiest ways to save money on your electricity bill is by switching electricity providers. If you don't switch providers every 12 months, you may be put on a standard electricity tariff without any discounts. Standard tariffs can add hundreds of euros to your annual electricity bill when compared to the discounted rates offered to new customers.
In the table below, you'll find the cheapest electricity offers per supplier.
|Supplier||Best offer||Price per year|
|Electric Ireland||5.5% Discount
|BE Energy||28% off unit rate
20% off standing charge
|Bord Gáis Energy||32% Discount||€832.11|
|SSE Airtricity||10% Discount
|Pinergy||40% off from 6pm-10pm||€1,045.63|
|Find the best offer for your home. Find the best offer for your home.|
Calculations based on average consumption figures for an urban home with a 24-hour meter. All discounts and cashback have been applied. Last updated: November 2020
You may also consider 101 ways to save money on your energy bills. This in-depth guide to saving money at home is packed with helpful and practical tips. If your home heating is electricity-based you may also wish to consider applying for some of the SEAI grants to make your home more energy-efficient, upgrade your boiler or add to your home’s insulation.