Adam French, Which? Consumer Rights Expert, said:
“With so many energy providers going bust and cheap deals disappearing in droves from price comparison sites over the past couple of months, many people will be confused and concerned about their energy bills as the price cap hits a record high and winter approaches.
“Although it may be too late to switch before the price cap rises, it’s still worth shopping around to see how your current tariff compares. If you’re looking for price security then a pricier fixed tariff may still be worth considering to guard against future increases.
“If you are concerned about struggling to pay higher bills, there is help available. Speak to your energy provider about a payment plan you can afford and check to see if you qualify for any government schemes, such as the Warm Home Discount or Cold Weather Payment.”
Notes to editors
Tips for handling the increase in the energy price cap:
1, If you’re on a cheap fixed deal, now is not the time to switch energy supplier. We’ve seen cheap deals disappear from sale over the past couple of months, so you’re unlikely to find any deals at the same rates you’re paying now. Those rates (your daily standing charge and unit price) will be fixed until the end of your contract.
2, If you’re on a variable deal and have been told the price is increasing, then it’s worth comparing gas and electricity prices using Which? Switch to see if you can find a reasonably priced tariff to protect you against further increases. Which? Switch displays all available tariffs for providers, big and small, even if Which? doesn’t currently have a commercial switching agreement with them.
3, Help is available if you are struggling to pay higher energy bills. Start by contacting your energy supplier. It might feel like the last thing you want to do, but the company won’t cut off your supply if you work with it to agree how much you can pay.
4, If you’re concerned about rising costs, you should also check if you qualify for any government schemes or benefits, including:
The Warm Home Discount is £140 off your electricity bills if you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit. You might also qualify if you have a low income – check with your energy supplier for its criteria.
The Cold Weather Payment is £25 for each seven consecutive days between November and April that it’s below 0°C. Receiving certain benefits will mean that you qualify for this.
The Winter Fuel Payment is £200 if you’re over 66 or £300 if you’re over 80 if you live alone and lower if you live with someone else who qualifies. You should get it automatically if you get the State Pension or another qualifying social security benefit.
5, You should also look at ways to reduce your energy consumption such as – installing energy efficient light bulbs, home insulation and using your appliances more efficiently.
Quick energy-saving tips:
Understand your energy use. It’s the first step in knowing how much gas and electricity you’re using, and where you can cut back. A smart meter comes with an in home display which will tell you how much energy you use in real time.
Don’t leave your gadgets on standby. This could save you up to £35 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Fit a water-efficient showerhead. These keep your shower feeling powerful while cutting down on your hot water use, and therefore how much gas you use to heat it.
Only run your washing machine and dishwasher when they’re full, and use energy-efficient programs. If possible, dry your washing outside, rather than using your tumble dryer.
If you don’t already have a room thermostat, programmer and thermostatic radiator valves, installing them – and using them well – will save you money. Use them to set your heating and hot water to turn on and off to suit you, heat only the parts of the home that need it, and set different temperatures for different parts of your home.