Energy bills have shot up for millions of households today, as the new Energy Price Guarantee replaces the Ofgem price cap.
The Energy Price Guarantee freezes bills for the typical household at £2,500 a year for two years – but this isn’t a total cap on how much you could pay.
Like the old Ofgem price cap, what the new energy scheme will do is cap the unit rates you’re charged for gas and electricity, plus the standing charges.
This means if you use more energy, you could end up paying more than £2,500. Similarly, use less energy and your bill should be less.
The new Energy Price Guarantee is higher than the Ofgem price cap that was previously in place – which was £1,971 – although it is lower than the £3,549 that energy bills were due to rise by this month.
If you’re worried about your bills, we explain ten energy checks to make today.
- Turn your appliances off standby
When a device is left on standby, it still receives power from your electricity socket to allow it to continue running at a low level.
For example, when it comes to your television, leaving it on standby means it is still drawing power so it can respond to signals from the remote control.
Go round your home and make sure anything you’re not using is switched off at the wall. Check out a list of the worst energy-guzzling appliances.
- Be more conscious of your energy use
Of course, one way to lower your bill is to use less energy – and there are simple changes you can make that won’t impact your lifestyle.
For example, turn your thermostat down by 1C could save you around 10% on your energy bill, while washing your clothes at 30C uses around 40% less energy.
We’ve rounded up 50 ways to cut your energy bill.
- Turn your boiler down
Boilers run best at around 55C if possible, but many actually run at higher temperatures.
Harland Guscott, a boiler engineer and owner of Guscott Heating Services, said that for every 10C cut you make, your gas bill falls by 6% to 8%.
- Make your home more energy efficient
There are lots of cheap and effective ways to insulate your home.
You can create draught-excluder for free by stuffing an old jumper with socks and stitching it into a long snake shape.
This can be used under a door that lets air in. For old floorboards, a cheap rug can be a good way to stop cool air blowing in.
- Do regular meter readings
It’s important to do regular meter readings, otherwise your energy supplier will estimate your usage and this could mean you get overcharged.
If you have a smart meter, this device should sent readings automatically for you – although they’ve not been without issues.
In some circumstances, your supplier may also be unable to connect to your meter automatically – for example, if it’s an older generation.
- Register for priority services
The Priority Services Register is a free support service for people in vulnerable situations.
The help you could get includes advance notice of planned power cuts, priority support in an emergency and help with reading your meter.
To get on the register, you’ll need to ask your energy supplier.
There are lots of circumstances which could qualify you for the additional support, including if you’re a pensioner or if you have a long-term medical condition.
- Look out for cost of living payments
Cost of living payments are being sent out to certain households to help with the cost of living crisis.
Households in receipt of certain means-tested benefits will receive £650 – the first half of this, worth £326, has already been sent out.
There is also a £150 disability payment and £300 for pensioners who get Winter Fuel Payments.
- Get energy help
There are certain energy schemes that provide extra bill support to vulnerable households.
The Warm Home Discount scheme is a one-off payment of £150 distributed by energy suppliers – it will open again in November.
You should get the payment automatically if your energy supplier is part of the scheme and you, or your partner, receive the Guarantee Credit portion of Pension Credit.
You may also qualify if you get a different “qualifying benefit” and you have high energy costs.
Through the Cold Weather Payment scheme, households get £25 for each seven-day period of below zero weather.
This scheme runs between November 1 and March 31 each year.
Or if you’re a pensioner, you might be eligible for between £100 and £300 in Winter Fuel Payments – plus you’ll get an extra £300 on top through a one-off cost of living payment, as we mentioned above.
If you were born on or before 25 September 1956, you’re likely to qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment – as long as you lived in the UK for at least one day during the qualifying week.
The qualifying week is the week beginning from the third Monday in September.
- Talk to your energy provider
If you’re really struggling, talk to your energy provider – ideally before you fall behind on a payment.
Not paying your gas or electricity bill can have serious repercussions – including damaging your credit score, court action and visits from debt collectors.
Your energy supplier should be able to offer you tailored support, such as a payment plan.
It’s also worth asking them if you’re definitely on their cheapest deal.
- Apply for an energy hardship scheme
All the big energy firms have charitable hardship funds and grants that you may be eligible for if you’re struggling.
For example, the British Gas Energy Trust can be accessed by anyone – not just its customers – providing you meet the eligibility criteria.