With energy bills set to rise again in April, many households around the country are looking at different ways to keep warm and cover costs at the same time.
The energy price cap - a limit to how much energy companies can charge customers - is expected to increase again in 2022 to the tune of several hundred pounds.
Some industry experts have warned the energy price cap could be raised by up to 50% on October 2021’s increase brought on by the dramatic surge in wholesale gas prices.
People have taken to extreme measures, including not using their heating systems, to balance the books, while OVO has apologised for advising customers to cuddle pets to stay warm.
Here are a handful of ways to help with energy bills, including access to grants and benefits to help pay your bill - and what to do if you’re struggling to meet the monthly payments…
What help can I get with energy bills?
The number one port of call is to contact your energy provider.
If you are worried about meeting the costs of your energy bill then contact your supplier as soon as possible to work through a payment plan.
Under Ofgem rules, suppliers must work with you on a payment plan that you can afford.
Things to be aware of that you can ask for include:
- payment or debt repayment review
- temporary break or reduction in payments
- additional time to settle outstanding bills
- help and support accessing hardship funds
It’s important to remember under these uncertain times that the energy supplier won’t disconnect your gas or electricity right now, during the Covid pandemic.
Are there access to grants and benefits to help with energy bills?
Due to the dramatic increase in energy bills, many people are looking for help from the government.
Reports of cutting the 5% VAT on energy bills were quashed as the industry and ministers look to find a way through the current crisis.
There are state funded schemes on offer already, which include:
- winter fuel payment - one off pot of between £100 and £300 for people born on or before 5 October 1954
- cold weather payment - £25 for every 7 days of very cold weather between November and March
- warm homes discount - £140 discount for some people in low income households or in receipt of pension credit
- household support fund - to help with vulnerable households, contact local councils
People living in Scotland can also access the child winter heating assistance scheme and Welsh households might be able to access the winter fuel support scheme.
What should I do if I can’t meet energy bill payments?
If you are unable to come to an agreement with your energy supplier over a payment plan then Citizens Advice or Advice Direct Scotland are available to help.
Contact Citizens Advice online or call 0808 2231133. Advice Direct Scotland can be found online, telephone 0808 196 8660 or email energyadvice.scot.
If you are in a vulnerable situation then there is also a free support service called Priority Service Register, which ensures energy suppliers can provide extra help where needed.
Alternatively, if you just want some advice on what to do then people in England and Wales can call Simple Energy Advice on 0800 444 202 and people in Scotland can call 808 808 2282.
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