MILLIONS of bill payers need to take a meter reading NOW ahead of the April price hike.
From the government Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) promises to keep average bills at £2,500 a year.
It was extended to July in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s budget.
But millions of households will still see change energy bills in April.
Fixed energy costs are rising, at the same time vital government support for bills is revoked.
The overall result is that many will see an unwanted and expected increase in costs – and it could be the most vulnerable households hardest hit, say energy charities.
To make sure nothing goes wrong, households should consider taking a meter reading today.
This is so you know where you stand in case something happens later.
Ben Gallizzi, energy expert at Uswitch, said: “It’s worth remembering that the price you pay is determined by how much energy you use – the more you use, the more you pay and the less you use, the less you pay.
“It is important to keep your supplier informed of your meter readings, so that you do not pay more than you owe for your energy consumption.
“If you don’t have a smart meter, it is advisable to regularly take meter readings and pass them on to your supplier.
“This ensures that your bill is correct and allows your supplier to adjust your direct debit to your usage,” he added.
You will usually find your meters fixed to a wall or shelf, in a cupboard under your stairs or in a cupboard on the outside of your house.
Ben added: “It can be helpful to submit your measurements today as this gives both you and your supplier an overview of how much energy was used before 1 April.
“If you have a smart meter, your meter readings are automatically forwarded to your supplier.”
This won’t change rising bills so keep that in mind, but it’s definitely worth having as a reference just in case.
All homes have been receiving energy rebates worth £66/67 per month since October.
However, this support will be withdrawn from April, a blow to many families who are struggling.
At the same time, standing charges will also increase, although unit rates will decrease.
Fixed charges are added to your bill even when you are not consuming any energy, as they represent the cost of powering your home.
What will change in your standing right?
The exact costs depend on how you pay for your energy and on your supplier.
The average flat rate for gas by direct debit rises nationwide from 28.49 per day to 29.11 per day, according to data from Money Saving Expert (MSE).
Unit prices will fall slightly from 10.31p per kwh to 10.31p, and from 34.04p per kwh to 33.21p for electricity.
However, the fixed costs for electricity differ per region.
People living in North Wales and Mersey who pay by direct debit will see these costs rise by as much as 27% – from 48.6 pence to 61.82 pence, MSE data showed.
Southern Scotland is also poised for a big jump from 50.66p to 61.67p.
On the other hand, homeowners in London will pay the least for electricity at a rate of 38.18 pence – even after a 15% increase.
The changes, combined with the end of energy rebates, will see the number of UK households in fuel poverty rise from 6.7 million to a new high of 7.5 million from April 1, according to figures from NEA.
Customers with prepayment meters face even higher fixed costs.
Gas will increase from an average of 37.51p per day to 37.80p and for electricity from 51.41p per day to 58.08p.
However, the unit rates will fall from 10.82 pence per kwh for gas to 10.55 pence and from 33 pence per kwh to 32.05 pence.
Between July 2023 and March 2024, the government has announced that it will compensate prepayment customers for their higher costs.
What help is there if I am having a hard time?
If you’re struggling to make ends meet, help is available.
Household Support Fund – £300
The Household Support Fund was due to end on March 31, but has since been extended until March 31, 2024.
The fund ensures that councils across England are allocated a maximum amount that they can distribute to the residents of their area.
Each municipality can set its own criteria, but help is usually provided to people with a low income or low benefits.
If you want to know what help you can get, contact your municipality.
If you do not know which municipality area you fall under, you can use the government’s municipality locator online.
In the final tranche of the Household Support Fund, residents of York get £300 in vouchers.
Energy supplier grants – £1,500
A number of energy suppliers offer subsidies to customers if they struggle to meet their billing obligations.
But the amount you can get depends on who you’re with.
British Gas, E.ON, Octopus and Ovo all offer grants worth hundreds of pounds to customers.
British Gas Energy Trust pays struggling households up to £1,500 – and you don’t even have to be a customer.
This is the list of vendors currently running schemes:
- British Gas Energy Trust Individuals and Family Fund
- British gas energy trust
- EDF Customer Support Fund
- E.ON and E.ON Next scholarships
- Octopus Energy Assist fund
- OVO Energy
- Scottish Power Hardship Fund
If you don’t know who your supplier is, Ofgem has a supplier search tool on its website.
Emergency Credit – £10
Customers with traditional or smart prepayment meters can usually get so-called “emergency credit” if they run out of money on their meter.
But the credit must eventually be repaid.
A number of providers offer emergency credit, including Scottish Power, Octopus Energy and British Gas.
But the amounts they offer differ, so check with yours to find out what you can get.
Fuel Vouchers – £50
Here too, customers can get one-time vouchers to top up on a prepayment meter.
The aid comes through the charity Fuel Bank Foundation and is offered through local organizations such as food banks and Citizens Advice.
It is best to contact your municipality and see if you can get a voucher.
If this fails, try your energy supplier who may be able to step in and help.
Do you have a money problem that needs to be solved? Contact us by email [email protected]