As the “energy crisis” continues, Ian Preston our head of household energy has the latest…
7 October 2021
CSE, one of the UK’s leading sustainable energy organisations supporting people suffering from cold homes and high energy bills, has seen more households reaching out for support because they’re worried about their energy supplier, horrified at deals they are being offered and not being able to find a better price.
The energy crisis has been dominating the news for the past few weeks and the situation doesn’t seem to be easing. Gas prices closed at a record value this week, and if even more suppliers go bust then the Government may need to take further action. This is all happening in the context of the biggest energy price hike in decades, right before winter as people start to turn on their heating and rising fuel poverty numbers.
What to do?
Sit tight. It may sound odd but gas prices are going up so quickly that the standard variable rate tariff which becomes your default deal when your fixed one ends may well be the cheapest price around. This may seem shocking as your new predicted bill might be 50% higher than your old one!
Standard variable rate tariffs are capped by the regulator Ofgem. Despite the price cap increasing on 1 October 2021, it’s still likely to be lower than a fixed deal. If we do see plummeting gas prices then it’s worth checking the market again to see if you can save money, but there’s no evidence of that happening.
The price cap will be reviewed next in April next year. So CSE suggests you wait until the spring and then make sure you hunt for the best tariff before the price cap changes again.
Save energy where you can
If your home is uninsulated and draughty and if your appliances are inefficient, you could be wasting energy and money and your home could be less warm. However, there are some simple steps you can take to improve energy efficiency and save money.
The first thing to do is to make sure you’re not wasting any energy. Making changes that cost very little are some of the best ways to protect yourself from increasing energy prices.
- Turn your heating down by one degree. You won’t notice the difference and could save up to £80 a year. Don’t go below 18°C if you are elderly, ill, or have small children.
- Be a friend to your freezer. Defrost it regularly and keep it as full as you can. A defrosted freezer costs around £150 less a year to run.
- Use a smart meter or energy monitor to keep an eye on energy usage, you can then use this information to make changes and see what difference you can make to your bills.
- Draught- proof your doors, letterbox and windows and draw your curtains at dusk to keep the heat in. You’ll save around £30 per year by draught proofing windows and around £20 per year draught proofing doors.
- Don’t leave appliances on standby, switch them off when not in use.
For more ideas read our ‘Tips for lower energy bills’ factsheet.
Can you insulate your home?
The most effective way of reducing your energy use long-term is insulating your home. We’ve got a selection of factsheets on our advice site that give you an overview of different types of insulation. If you are on a low income or claiming means tested benefits then you may be eligible for the Energy Company Obligation to help with some of the costs. You could check with your energy supplier to see if they offer measures under the ECO or see what support is available in your area using the Simple Energy Advice Service website tool.
Is there anything to help with my energy bills?
Yes. There’s something called the Warm Homes Discount scheme. You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2021 to 2022 under the scheme if you meet the eligibility criteria. The money is not paid to you - it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between October and March.
There are two ways to qualify for the Warm Home Discount Scheme:
- You get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit - known as the ‘core group’.
- You’re on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme - known as the ‘broader group’.
If your existing energy supplier is obligated for the Warm Homes Discount (see list here), then your new supplier will be legally obliged to fulfil their Core Group requirements. So if you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, then you should still get £140 off your bill. You won't be automatically entitled to the broader group, so you would need to apply with your new supplier.
The Warm Homes Discount Scheme opens on 18 October 2021.