The Free Electricity Allowance: do you qualify?

Small electrical appliances with coins scattered around

What is the Free Electricity Allowance?

The Free Electricity Allowance is part of the Household Benefits Package. Its is a monthly allowance allocated to qualifying individuals by the Department of Social Protection. The aim of the Free Electricity Allowance is to enable people, who are at risk of otherwise facing difficulties, to pay their electricity bills more easily.

How much is the free electricity allowance?

The Free Electricity Allowance is currently set at €35 a month.


Who can qualify for the Free Electricity Allowance?

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Persons residing in Ireland in receipt of certain allowances are entitled to receive 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 are receiving certain benefits.

Note that only one individual per household can receive the allowance, regardless of the number of inhabitants who qualify for it, so do make sure that the person who applies is the person 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:

  1. Be legally resident in Ireland
  2. Be the only person in their household who applies for and is in receipt of the allowance.
  3. Be the person whose name the electricity bill is registered under.
  4. Apply for a Public Services Card if requested to do so.

The Free Electricity Allowance for under 70s

For those residents who have not yet reached 70 years of age, there are other qualifying categories that can result in receiving the allowance. Check below to see which category you fall under if you are interested in receiving the Free Electricity Allowance and are under 70 years of age on the date of application.

Applicants receiving the Full-Time Carer’s Allowance

Any Irish resident who receives the Full-Time Carer’s Allowance and is living with the person that they care for may apply for the Free Electricity Allowance under the same conditions as applicants who are over 70.

The same applies to any applicants who are the nominated carers of anyone in receipt of either the Constant Attendance Allowance or the Prescribed Relatives Allowance.

Applicants between 66-70 years of age

Applicants who are under 70 years of age but over 66 must satisfy the same requirements as for applicants who are over 70, and in addition:

  • Be receiving a qualifying payment or satisfy a means test.
  • Be living alone or with dependent children, people who require constant care, a person who would also qualify for the allowance or a person who is providing constant care.

Applicants under 66 years of age

Applicants under 66 years of age must satisfy the same requirements as those who are over 70, and must also:

  • Be receiving a qualifying payment or satisfy a means test.
  • Be living alone or with dependent children, people who require constant care, a person who would also qualify for the allowance or a person who is providing constant care.

Qualifying payments

66-70

Under 66

State Pension

Invalidity Pension

Widow’s/Widower’s/Surviving Civil Partner Pension

Disability Allowance

One-Parent Family Payment

Blind Person’s Pension

Deserted Wife’s Benefit/Allowance

Incapacity Supplement or Workmen’s Compensation with Disablement pension for a minimum of 12 months.

Prisoner’s Wife Allowance

A Social Security Invalidity pension or Benefit of at least 12 months from a country Ireland has a Bilateral agreement with or a country that is covered by EC regulations

Garda Widow’s Pension

A UK Disability Living Allowance with Severe Disablement Allowance for a minimum of 12 months

A Social Security Pension or Benefit from a country Ireland has a Bilateral agreement with or a country that is covered by EC regulations.

N/A

What is the Free Gas Allowance?

The Free Gas Allowance is another allowance provided as part of the Household Benefit’s 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 Benefit’s Package scheme. This means that if you receive the electricity allowance, you may not receive the gas allowance and vice versa.


The Free Electricity Allowance and your TV licence

a flat screen TV on a table

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?

To apply for the free Electricity Allowance (or the Free Gas Allowance, whichever option you prefer), you’ll need to print out and complete the HB1 form and return it to:

Household Benefits Section,
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection,
Social Welfare Services,
College Road,
Sligo.

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. Make sure to switch providers every 12 months or you may be put onto a standard electricity tariff without any discounts. Standard tariffs can add hundreds of euros to your annual electricity bill when compared to discounted rates offered to new customers.

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.

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