Citizens Advice and Energy Saving Trust offer tips amid the cost of living crisis
The energy price cap rose by around £700 in April. For the average household on a default tariff (11 million households) this will be an increase of around £60 per month. It is likely to rise again in OCtober and inflation is also at a 30-year high, making other everyday costs more expensive.
We understand that this is a worrying time for many and we are here to support you.
Citizens Advice and Energy Saving Trust have teamed up to explain why bills are increasing, what steps people can take to save money and what support is available to anyone who is struggling. While these steps won’t be enough to cover the steep rise in bills that many people will face, they could make a difference.
Why are my energy bills going up?
The main reason why energy bills are rising is because global gas prices are at record levels - this means it’s more expensive for energy suppliers (the people we pay our bills with) to buy the gas and electricity we use every day. Inevitably, these costs get passed on to us - the consumers - in the form of higher bills.
These increased costs haven’t been passed through to us straight away because of the price cap. This puts a limit on how much suppliers can charge us for our gas and electricity.
The price cap is controlled by Ofgem, the energy regulator, and it’s reviewed every six months. In February Ofgem announced what the new increase will be.
From 1 April 2022 the average annual household bill for those on a standard tariff will rise by:
- £693 per year for those who pay by direct debit
- £708 per year for those with prepayment meters
This is on top of the £139 (£153 for those on pre-payment meters) increase consumers faced last autumn, and will bring an average household bill to around £2,000 per year.
Your bills will only be affected by the price cap increase if you’re on a Standard Variable Tariff. If you’re on a Fixed Rate Tariff, your bills will stay the same until your contract ends. If you’re unsure what type of contract you’re on, check your bill or call your supplier to find out.
In the past, it would have been a good idea to switch to a new energy supplier or ask your current supplier for a better deal. But at the moment, many people are sticking with Standard Variable Tariffs because there aren’t a lot of better deals to switch to. This may change once the new price cap comes into effect.
My energy supplier collapsed last year - has this made a difference to my bills?
The rise in wholesale prices also led to a lot of suppliers going bust. If you’re one of the millions of customers affected, Ofgem will have moved your account to a new supplier. It’s likely you were put on a Standard Variable Tariff, which could be more expensive than the tariff you were on with your previous provider.
Is there anything I can do to save money on energy?
There are some simple things you can do to save some money on your energy bills. They won’t cover all the extra costs, but they can make a difference:
Check your thermostat: Turning your thermostat down by just one degree can save you around £65 a year. Only lower it to a temperature you feel comfortable at - as a guide, many people find this is between 18-21 degrees.
Keep the heat in: Check your home for any gaps in the doors, windows and floors. Blocking any holes where you could get a draught could save you around £30 a year. If you’re renting, ask your landlord to ensure your home has good insulation.
Turn off anything you’re not using: Turning your appliances, like TVs and washing machines, off instead of leaving them on standby could save around £40 a year. Turning off lights when you’re not using them – even if it’s just off for a few seconds - could save £14 a year. Consider using LED lightbulbs, which cost less to run.
Watch your water usage: Cutting your shower time by just one minute can make a difference. If everyone in a four-person household with a water meter did this, you could save £45 a year.
What support can I get?
If you’re struggling to afford your energy bills or top up your prepayment meter, you might be able to get support from the government or your energy supplier.
Call your energy supplier: Call your supplier and ask them if they offer any grants to help with your energy bills. Even if you’re not eligible for grants, suppliers still need to support you to manage your payments based on what you can afford. Depending on your circumstances, they may also offer you a referral for independent debt support or energy efficiency advice. They may also be able to offer you temporary credit for your prepay meter that you’ll need to repay.
Energy Bills Support Scheme: The government has also announced a package of support to help households with rising energy bills in response to the latest energy cap price rise.
This includes providing all domestic electricity customers with £400 off their energy bills. (This support replaces the £200 support announced earlier this year and the full £400 payment will now be made as a grant, which will not be paid back in future years).
The Government have said that energy suppliers will deliver this support to households with a domestic electricity meter over six months from October 2022. Direct debit and credit customers will have the money credited to their account, while customers with pre-payment meters will have the money applied to their meter or paid via a voucher.
Additionally, households in England who are liable for Council Tax in bands A-D will receive £150 non-repayable Council Tax rebate from April 2022.
Other Cost of living support announced by the Government in May 2022:
- £650 one-off Cost of Living Payment for those on means tested benefits:
More than 8 million households on means tested benefits will receive a payment of £650 this year, made in two instalments – the first from July, the second in the autumn. This payment will be tax-free, will not count towards the benefit cap, and will not have any impact on existing benefit awards.
- One-off £300 Pensioner Cost of Living Payment
Pensioner households will receive an extra £300 this year to help them cover the rising cost of energy this winter. This additional one-off payment will go to the over 8 million pensioner households across the UK who receive the Winter Fuel Payment and will be paid on top of any other one-off support a pensioner household is entitled to. The government will make these payments directly to households across the UK.
- £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment
Around six million people across the UK who receive the certain disability benefits, such as DLA, PIP and Attendance Allowance will receive a one-off payment of £150 from September 2022. The government will make these payments directly to eligible people across the UK.
- £500m increase and extension of Household Support Fund
The Government is also providing an extra £500 million of local support, via the Household Support Fund, which will be extended from this October to March 2023. The Household Support Fund helps those in most need with payments towards the rising cost of food, energy, and water bills. The Household Support Fund is administered by local councils in England, and eligibility will be determined by individual councils. Further information is available directly from Wiltshire Council.
You can find more detailed information about all the Cost of living support from the Government, including examples of how much money you could receive, depending on your circumstances in their factsheet
You may also be eligible for these benefits:
Warm Home Discount: This gives you £140 off your electricity bill if you’re on a low income. If you get the guaranteed element of pension credit, you should get the discount automatically. Check with your supplier to see if they offer the Warm Home Discount because not all of them do.
Winter Fuel Payment: This is an annual one-off payment to help you pay for heating during the winter. You can usually get a Winter Fuel Payment if you were born on or before 26 September 1955. If you’re eligible, you should get this automatically. However, if you think you’re eligible and have not been receiving it you can contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre (Telephone: 0800 731 0160 / Textphone: 0800 731 0176)
Cold Weather Payments:
Cold Weather Payments are one-off payments to help you pay for extra heating costs when it’s very cold. You’ll get a payment each time the temperature drops below a specific temperature for a set period of time. If you're eligible, you should get paid automatically. Find out more about Cold Weather Payments
Local energy grants and support:
Surviving Winter Grant: The Surviving Winter grant can provide households with £200 to help with winter fuel costs. Grants are made from funds raised by the Wiltshire Community Foundation’s annual Surviving Winter campaign. If you are of pensionable age or have a long-term health condition which is exacerbated by the cold weather and are on a low income you may be eligible for support through the Surviving Winter programme. To find out more please contact:
- Age UK Wiltshire - if you are of pensionable age on 0800 0385722
- Warm and Safe Winter - if you are working age on 0808 1962424
Local energy grants:
If you can't afford to top up your prepayment meter you might be able to get a fuel voucher. You can contact us
at Wiltshire Citizens Advice for more details about this. We can also help with food bank vouchers too.
Warm and Safe Wiltshire
or visit Warm and Safe Wiltshire webpage
We know this is a stressful and worrying time. We’re encouraging people to consider small ways they can make savings at home wherever possible and make sure they’re getting all the support they’re entitled to.
If you’re struggling, worried you might not be able to afford to top up your meter, or pay your bills, or are having any issues with your energy supplier, don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can help you find a way forward.
Call us on freephone 0800 144 8848
(Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) or email us
for support and advice.
First published 22 February 2022. Last updated 28 June 2022.