THOUSANDS of households are eligible for an energy bill discount to help ease the pain over the winter months.

Known as the Warm Home Discount - it's a scheme offered by many of the major energy firms - and it could save you £140.

And best of all you don't have to be in receipt of a benefit to qualify.

All companies with more than 250,000 customers are obliged to join the scheme set up by the Government.

The discount is a support scheme aimed at households who struggle to pay their energy bills.

It was introduced on 1st April 2011 and will run until 2021.

It's a one-off £140 discount on your energy bill over winter - but instead of being paid directly to you, it's automatically deducted from your bill between September and March.

You may also receive it as an energy rebate. It's usually paid by Spring the following year.

And the discount won’t affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.

You may qualify for the discount if you:

- Get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit - known as the 'Core group.'

- Or, are on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme - known as the 'Broader group.'

If you're in the Core group you'll have already received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) starting your eligibility.

If you don't qualify for the Core group you may qualify for the Broader group. This applies if you're the account holder (or their partner) and you or another member in your home meets the set criteria (which can vary by provider).

This usually covers you if you are:

- In receipt of the Savings or Guarantee and Savings element of the State Pension Credit;

- In receipt of one of the following means-tested eligible benefits: Income Support, Income based Jobseekers’ Allowance, Income related Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit;

- Are a customer with a gross annual household income (HHI) of less than £16,190 and the account holder is living with mental or physical disability or illness, or there is vulnerability within the home (children living in the house aged 5 or under) or of pensionable age;

- Are a customer with a gross annual household income (HHI) of less than £16,190 and spend 10% or more of household income on energy bills to heat the property.

If you think you qualify but haven's heard from anyone about it, you can call the DWP's Warm Home Discount helpline on 0800 731 0214 from 8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.