Citizens Advice and Energy Saving Trust offer tips amid the cost of living crisis
We now know the energy price cap will rise by around £700 in April. For the average household on a default tariff (11 million households) this will be an increase of around £60 per month. Inflation is also at a 30-year high, making other everyday costs more expensive.
We understand that this is a worrying time for many and we are here to support you.
Citizens Advice and Energy Saving Trust have teamed up to explain why bills are increasing, what steps people can take to save money and what support is available to anyone who is struggling. While these steps won’t be enough to cover the steep rise in bills that many people will face, they could make a difference.
Why are my energy bills going up?
The main reason why energy bills are rising is because global gas prices are at record levels - this means it’s more expensive for energy suppliers (the people we pay our bills with) to buy the gas and electricity we use every day. Inevitably, these costs get passed on to us - the consumers - in the form of higher bills.
These increased costs haven’t been passed through to us straight away because of the price cap. This puts a limit on how much suppliers can charge us for our gas and electricity.
The price cap is controlled by Ofgem, the energy regulator, and it’s reviewed every six months. In February Ofgem announced what the new increase will be.
From 1 April 2022 the average annual household bill for those on a standard tariff will rise by:
- £693 per year for those who pay by direct debit
- £708 per year for those with prepayment meters
This is on top of the £139 (£153 for those on pre-payment meters) increase consumers faced last autumn, and will bring an average household bill to around £2,000 per year.
Your bills will only be affected by the price cap increase if you’re on a Standard Variable Tariff. If you’re on a Fixed Rate Tariff, your bills will stay the same until your contract ends. If you’re unsure what type of contract you’re on, check your bill or call your supplier to find out.
In the past, it would have been a good idea to switch to a new energy supplier or ask your current supplier for a better deal. But at the moment, many people are sticking with Standard Variable Tariffs because there aren’t a lot of better deals to switch to. This may change once the new price cap comes into effect.
My energy supplier collapsed last year - has this made a difference to my bills?
The rise in wholesale prices also led to a lot of suppliers going bust. If you’re one of the millions of customers affected, Ofgem will have moved your account to a new supplier. It’s likely you were put on a Standard Variable Tariff, which could be more expensive than the tariff you were on with your previous provider.
Is there anything I can do to save money on energy?
There are some simple things you can do to save some money on your energy bills. They won’t cover all the extra costs, but they can make a difference:
Check your thermostat: Turning your thermostat down by just one degree can save you around £65 a year. Only lower it to a temperature you feel comfortable at - as a guide, many people find this is between 18-21 degrees.
Keep the heat in: Check your home for any gaps in the doors, windows and floors. Blocking any holes where you could get a draught could save you around £30 a year. If you’re renting, ask your landlord to ensure your home has good insulation.
Turn off anything you’re not using: Turning your appliances, like TVs and washing machines, off instead of leaving them on standby could save around £40 a year. Turning off lights when you’re not using them – even if it’s just off for a few seconds - could save £14 a year. Consider using LED lightbulbs, which cost less to run.
Watch your water usage: Cutting your shower time by just one minute can make a difference. If everyone in a four-person household with a water meter did this, you could save £45 a year.
For more tips on saving energy, visit the Energy Saving Trust website.
What support can I get?
If you’re struggling to afford your energy bills or top up your prepayment meter, you might be able to get support from the government or your energy supplier.
Call your energy supplier: Call your supplier and ask them if they offer any grants to help with your energy bills. Even if you’re not eligible for grants, suppliers still need to support you to manage your payments based on what you can afford. Depending on your circumstances, they may also offer you a referral for independent debt support or energy efficiency advice. They may also be able to offer you temporary credit for your prepay meter that you’ll need to repay.
Energy Bills Rebate: The government has also announced a package of support to help households with rising energy bills in response to this latest energy cap price rise. This includes providing all domestic electricity customers with £200 off their energy bills this October, which will be paid back automatically over the next 5 years. Additionally, households in England who are liable for Council Tax in bands A-D will receive £150 non-repayable Council Tax rebate from April 2022.
You can find more details about Grants and benefits to help you pay your energy bills - on the Citizens Advice website.
You may also be eligible for these benefits:
Warm Home Discount: This gives you £140 off your electricity bill if you’re on a low income. If you get the guaranteed element of pension credit, you should get the discount automatically. Check with your supplier to see if they offer the Warm Home Discount because not all of them do.
Winter Fuel Payment: This is an annual one-off payment to help you pay for heating during the winter. You can usually get a Winter Fuel Payment if you were born on or before 26 September 1955. If you’re eligible, you should get this automatically. However, if you think you’re eligible and have not been receiving it you can contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre (Telephone: 0800 731 0160 / Textphone: 0800 731 0176)
Cold Weather Payments: Cold Weather Payments are one-off payments to help you pay for extra heating costs when it’s very cold. You’ll get a payment each time the temperature drops below a specific temperature for a set period of time. If you're eligible, you should get paid automatically. Find out more about Cold Weather Payments on GOV.UK.
Local energy grants and support:
Surviving Winter Grant: The Surviving Winter grant can provide households with £200 to help with winter fuel costs. Grants are made from funds raised by the Wiltshire Community Foundation’s annual Surviving Winter campaign. If you are of pensionable age or have a long-term health condition which is exacerbated by the cold weather and are on a low income you may be eligible for support through the Surviving Winter programme. To find out more please contact:
- Age UK Wiltshire - if you are of pensionable age on 0800 0385722
- Warm and Safe Winter - if you are working age on 0808 1962424
Local energy grants: If you can't afford to top up your prepayment meter you might be able to get a fuel voucher. You can contact us at Wiltshire Citizens Advice for more details about this. We can also help with food bank vouchers too.
Local Social Welfare Support: Wiltshire Council has a local welfare provision scheme that provides critical short-term help and assistance with limited one-off household goods. For full details, or to apply visit: https://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/article/958/Help-in-a-crisis
We know this is a stressful and worrying time. We’re encouraging people to consider small ways they can make savings at home wherever possible and make sure they’re getting all the support they’re entitled to.
If you’re struggling, worried you might not be able to afford to top up your meter, or pay your bills, or are having any issues with your energy supplier, don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can help you find a way forward.
Call us on freephone 0800 144 8848 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) or email us for support and advice