Coping with the rising cost of energy
It feels like the price of everything is rising at the moment - and no more so than the massive increase in energy costs that will be coming from April. This page provides information about these rises and things that you can do to try and reduce the impact and the help and support we can provide.
The energy price cap
On 1 April, the energy price cap rises by a huge 54%. This means that unless you're still on a fixed deal with your supplier, you'll pay half again on top of what you pay now from April. This will see bills rise, on average, by £700 per year.
This cap will remain in place for the next six months and if things stay as they currently are, the price cap could rise again by another 20% in October. And some analysts are saying that could be even higher as a result of the current conflict in Ukraine.
Should you switch supplier?
In the past we have always promoted switching energy suppliers as a way getting a better deal.
Unfortunately, at the moment, there are no fixed tariffs being offered by any suppliers that are meaningfully cheaper than the price cap. Although some suppliers may choose to charge less than the price cap, in reality they very rarely do, so all suppliers will likely be charging virtually the same price for their standard tariffs.
So, at the moment - there is no real advantage to switching suppliers.
What to do if you're still on a fixed rate
If you're still on a fixed rate - stay on that until the rate comes to an end.
This will likely be cheaper than the price cap and so will save you money until you come to the end of your fix. At the end of your fixed rate, you will be automatically moved onto your suppliers standard rate.
Help available from Government
The price rise we're facing is horrendous and will be difficult to afford for so many of us. The Government has announced some new measures to try and help, although none of these will fully ease the impact of the rise. They are:
The energy bills rebate:
- In around October, every electricity bill will be reduced by £200 (this might be in one go, or paid over a number of months). You can't opt-out of this and if you're on a pre-pay meter, you'll get the money either on your smart-meter, voucher, cheque or similar
- From April 2023, every electricity bill will have £40 a year added to it and that will happen for the next five years to repay the £200 discount
£150 Council Tax rebate:
All homes in England that are in Council Tax bands A to D will receive a £150 council tax rebate to be paid in April. The full details are yet to be confirmed but it is likely that this will be provided as an automatic separate payment to you if you pay by Direct Debit. If you don't this will need to be processed in April by Nottingham City Council.
More information on the energy and Council Tax rebate is available on the Government website by clicking here.
Help from your supplier
If you're falling behind with your energy bills and finding it struggle to pay - talk to your supplier as soon as possible.
Under the rules from the energy regulator, Ofgem, they have to help you - usually by arranging a payment plan that you can afford. There may be other help that can be offered as well, which is on a case-by-case basis. So get in touch with them as soon as possible.
On prepay and struggling to pay?
There's plenty of help available from your supplier here as well. All suppliers offer small amounts of emergency credit if you're running really low that you can pay back when you next top up.
And there might be extra support they can provide if you can't afford to top up.
And you won't be cut off at certain times, when it's difficult to get credit from the shops (usually between 6pm and 9am Monday to Saturday, all day Sunday and on bank holidays). You'll need to pay back anything you've used during these times the next time you top up.
All the big energy firms have charitable trusts and funds that can help if you're in debt and struggling to pay. There's an application process that you have to go through to access this and eligibility requirements vary. Talk to your supplier for more information.
The Warm Home Discount
The Warm Home Discount scheme is a one-off discount of £140 on your electricity bill between October and March (or as a top-up voucher if you're on a prepay meter). All suppliers with more than 150,000 customers offer offer it. There's certain criteria you need to meet and the application period has now closed for this winter.
The Government has announced that the discount will rise to £150 when the new application period opens and they're expanding the criteria so that 780,000 more households will benefit from next winter's scheme.
Speak to your supplier to see if you can apply. Even though the application period for this winter has closed, they'll be able to let you know if you would be eligible for next winter and might even be able to put you on a mailing list to let you know when you can next apply.
For more information, go to the Government's website by clicking here.
The winter fuel payment
If there's someone aged 66 or older in your home, you could get up to £300 with the winter fuel payment - regardless of your income. The deadline for making a claim for this winter is Thursday 31 March. Click here for more information.
Tips and advice
Only pay for the energy you use - do regular meter readings
Your energy supplier's estimates of the amount of energy you're using, might be way off. If they're underbilling, you could have an even bigger bill when they get your actual reading or if they're overbilling - then they'll have your money for energy you've not used. If you pay by Direct Debit, you can ask for it to be changed.
Having a Smart Meter can also help as they send meter readings automatically to your supplier. Find out more about Smart Meters by clicking here.
Pay by Direct Debit if you can
It can cut your bills by about £90 a year on average and as it's paid automatically, you don't have to remember to pay it.
Using less energy is a simple way to save on bills
Small things like turning down the thermostat by one degree, wearing extra layers, turning lights off when you leave a room, taking shorter showers, using energy saving light bulbs and not leaving electrical items on standby can all make a difference to your bills.
Request a smart meter
Smart meters show you how much energy you are using in your home in pounds and pence. Knowing exactly what you're spending without the need to supply meter readings or getting estimated bills from your supplier can help you to budget.
To request a smart meter, just contact your supplier. For more information about smart meters, go to the Smart Meter UK website.
Read our top tips to help lower your bills
There are lots of organisations you can also get in contact with if you're struggling with your bills. Here are some links to a few of them:
We also have further links and advice on our Energy and Sustainability pages.