Households across the UK are currently being hit by the worst cost of living crisis for decades.
Not only are supermarket food prices being driven up by the highest inflation levels since the early 1990s, but fuel prices and energy bills have also been increasing at a rapid rate - particularly in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war.
Higher energy costs have become almost impossible to escape given the increase to Ofgem’s energy price cap that came in on 1 April - although there are some hacks you can employ to help you save on your bills.
The government has introduced some support measures, such as the council tax rebate, but these will not cancel out the steep rises to gas and electricity prices.
So if you’re struggling to pay for your energy bills, what can you do?
Speak up as soon as possible
Ofgem’s rules state energy providers must work with you to come up with an affordable plan.
But you have to be prepared to give them a bit of information about your circumstances in order to do so.
The solutions they come up with might include:
- A review of your regular bill payments and debt repayments
- Payment breaks or reductions
- More time to pay back outstanding debts
- Access to hardship funds
- Suggestions on better tariffs or energy saving methods
For more information, visit Ofgem’s website.
Look at what support schemes, grants and benefits are available
You may have heard of help and support for older people or people who might be vulnerable.
The Priority Services Register is a free support service to help all kinds of people who might need this support.
You need to contact your energy provider to get on the list but it’s free to do so. Find out more on Ofgem’s website.
You can find out more about the various schemes available to help you in this recent article from Resolver.
Attempt to cut your energy consumption
Try these tips and give your energy provider regular meter readings so you don’t get hit with a big bill based on bad estimates:
- The big offenders for energy consumption in your home are ‘wet appliances’ - the term for the goods in the kitchen that use water, like washing machines and dishwashers. Try to only use them for full loads, learn more about what that ‘eco mode’ button does and drop the heat as low as it will go. These machines have to heat the water they use and this can result in them generating a quarter of the cost of your energy bill
- Turn down the thermostat a notch. Getting a smart thermostat can save you loads, but if money is tight then that just isn’t feasible. But did you know that turning down the thermostat by just one notch can save you around £80 a year?
- Switch off standby. Most electrical items can be switched off properly, though you might want to leave the smart TV / satellite / cable box plugged in if you don’t want to lose your favourite recordings. If it’s a faff to remember, why not get a plug with a timer on it?
- Clear out the fridge. If your fridge is stuffed then it requires more energy to do its job, so keep it relatively clear and the temperature at an appropriate level. Most experts advise a level of 1 to 5 Celsius – take the temperature rather than rely on the dial.
- Your parents were right – turn off those lights! Or even better, replace your bulbs with LEDs. This might seem like a hassle, but you could save up to £50 a year. If it’s too expensive to do in one go, replace them as the old ones die.
- Get a smart meter. Yes, this did go horribly wrong last time round, so the Government scheme was scaled back while the technology was sorted out. The second generation of smart meters are available now, which are compatible with different providers of energy, so you can switch if you want (always check first though). Smart meters make it easier to monitor your energy consumption and keep on top of your bills.
- Save money on energy and water. The Energy Saving Trust have a ton of really great advice on their website. A great one is fitting an energy efficient shower head and cutting down shower time by just one minute per person. A family of four could save £28 off their gas bills and around £47 off their water bills with a meter.
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