Although the Government’s Energy Price Guarantee (EPG), announced last month, will cap bills at a much lower level than had initially been indicated – in addition to the assistance put in place through the Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS) announced in May – customers could see an increase in bills by an average of 27% this winter.
The small glimmer of good news is that customers will also receive the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme, even though they will not receive this in one go. The payments will be split in instalments over six months starting from October 2022.
With everyone calling their suppliers, high call volumes and website traffic is expected - so it is important that you check beforehand on how to submit these readings. On that note, there are a few things you need to know and can do ahead of the price rise.
What you need to know about energy bills before 1 October
Remember to do a meter reading before 1 October
While you do not necessarily need to submit the reading, customers should check with their suppliers for specific advice on giving a reading when the new rates are implemented on 1 October. Most suppliers will accept readings for a few days either side of the month. The reason for this is to avoid paying for energy you’re using right now at the new higher price. According to money expert Martin Lewis, most firms will let you backdate this, in some cases, for up to a fortnight.
NationalWorld has reached out to a list of suppliers that have provided information regarding how long you have to put in a meter reading:
- British Gas
British Gas has said that providing a read for 30 September will ensure that you receive an accurate bill after the new prices come into effect. They added that you can submit a meter reading to them until 14 October 2022 via its web form.
Bulb customers can submit a meter reading any time between 27 September and 3 October, and they will use it to produce September’s bill.
A Bulb spokesperson said that many of their customers have a smart meter, so they do not need to submit meter readings. The easiest way for customers to submit a reading is via the Bulb app or on their Bulb Account. They added: “Customers don’t need to worry if they can’t submit a reading during this time period.”
If Bulb customers need to backdate a meter reading, they can email the reading and the date it was taken to [email protected] And if customers have submitted a meter reading in September, they said they will be able to produce “extremely accurate estimates” for the final days of the month.
- Octopus Energy
A spokesperson from Octopus Energy told NationalWorld that the most important information is that non-smart meter customers just need to take a picture of their meter on 1 October. They then have another week to submit it to Octopus Energy. Smart meter customers do not need to take a photo or submit a meter reading, as this is done automatically.
For their customers on a variable rate tariff, Flexible Octopus, price changes will come into effect at 12:01am Saturday, 1 October. If non-smart meter customers are keen to give a meter reading to coincide with the change, the best day to collect it is on the 1 October. Again, they have up to a week to then submit this reading to the company.
- E.ON and E.ON Next
The company has said that you can submit your meter reading any time between 27 September and 1 October, and that it does not have to be sent on Saturday (1 October). This can be submitted via the website and app, or on email, WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook.
EDF customers with a working smart meter, or those on a fixed price tariff do not need to submit a reading and have until the 7 October to submit meter readings taken on the 30 September or 1 October. The quickest and easiest way for customers to submit meter readings during this period will be via their dedicated online form. If customers don’t have MyAccount, meter readings can be submitted on the EDF website, or via an automated telephone service or by text and WhatsApp.
An EDF spokesperson told NationalWorld: “We’re providing more ways that customers can submit a meter reading and a longer amount of time to submit the reading, so customers can be reassured that the 30 September is not their only opportunity. This will help us make sure that we are available for our most vulnerable customers and those who need our support.”
They added that customers who submit a meter reading over the coming week will pay the lower rate for the energy used, before the price rise, based on the meter reading provided.
- Shell Energy
Shell Energy has stated on their website that they recommend taking a meter reading on Friday 30 September, as this will help them make sure your bill is accurate. But customers have 30 days to submit their readings, so there’s no need to send them straight away.
- Ovo Energy and SSE Energy
For Ovo Energy, customers can submit their meter readings via the app, online account, phone, Whatsapp or webchat. If they want to submit a meter reading after the 30 September they will need to call the company to backdate the reading.
For SSE customers, which is also owned by Ovo, it is exactly the same process via the form, and customers will need to call as well. They said that if you’re on a smart meter or on Pay As You Go, you do not have to submit a meter reading.
- SO Energy
Lewis has stated that meter readings can only be done over the phone, whilst So Energy will not backdate meter readings after 1 October 2022.
How can customers deal with energy bills ahead of winter?
- What happens if you are struggling to pay gas or electricity bills?
People’s energy suppliers should still remain the first port of call if they are struggling with bills. There is no need to contact firms to receive Government support packages, as that should come through directly.
- How do you keep bills down in the long term?
There is targeted financial support from some suppliers. This includes providing building measures like insulation, but also lots of guidance around low cost ways to waste less energy. The key thing is to make sure that energy isn’t being wasted in the form of cool air travelling around the home. It is also important to check that boilers are working efficiently. Both Energy Saving Trust and Citizens Advice have very handy information to help in this area.
- Why should I get a smart meter?
Smart meters are useful as they provide real-time information about their energy usage in order to manage our energy better. To request a smart meter, people should get in touch with their energy supplier, which can arrange for smart meters to be installed at a suitable time and date, and is installed for free.
- Am I eligible for the Priority Services Register?
Additional support is available for those who:
- have reached your state pension age
- are disabled or have a long-term medical condition
- are recovering from an injury
- have a hearing or sight condition
- have a mental health condition
- are pregnant or have young children
- have extra communication needs (such as if you don’t speak or read English well).
Find out more at Ofgem’s Priority Service Register.
- Am I being scammed?
Unfortunately, a number of people have reported messages telling customers they are eligible for the energy bill rebate and need to apply. As mentioned, the Government support packages are applied automatically – so any messages stating help in claiming the rebate are likely to be fraudulent. People should contact their energy supplier if they’re in doubt and report any scams to Action Fraud. Look at Take-five for advice on how to spot fraudulent scams.