What is the current situation with energy prices?
There was a slight drop to energy prices on 1st October 2023, with average annual costs now:
- £1,923 (direct debit)
- £1,908 (prepayment)
- £2,052 (pay on receipt of bill by cash/cheque/bank transfer)
Bear in mind though that the £400 household energy bill support scheme will not be repeated next winter so, in reality, our bills will be very similar to last winter.
The energy price cap is based on a household using 2,900kWh of electricity per year and 12,000kWh of gas. Please note that this is not a cap on a total annual energy bill – if you use more energy than average you will pay more. It is purely a cap on the unit charges and standing charges. From 1st October, these are capped at:
NB: These are the rates for anyone living in Yorkshire. Prices do vary depending on where you live so if you live in a different region, you can find your prices here
Is it worth switching energy supplier?
It hasn’t been worth switching over the last year or so as the price cap means that the prices are pretty much the same across all companies. However, some companies have started to bring out fixed rate tariffs, primarily for their existing customers. These may be worth considering if the fixed rate is the same or 1% higher than the current price cap rates. Martin Lewis offers a useful analysis on some of the tariffs currently being offered here.
If you want to switch energy supplier for better customer service, check out the Which? list of the best and worst scoring energy suppliers here
How can I best manage my bills?
One of the best things to do is to give regular monthly meter readings. By doing this you will get accurate bills, understand how much your costs are and avoid shock bills.
- Every time you get a bill in the post or online, take time to check it over, review your balance and check it is based on actual meter readings.
- Even if you have a smart meter, still check whether the readings are going through to the supplier (sometimes smart meters can suddenly stop working).
- If you are building up debt, be proactive and consider asking to have your direct debit increased.
- If you are in significant debt, speak to the supplier as soon as possible (see below).
- If you think that your direct debit is unreasonably high, review it using this direct debit calculator
- If you are in significant amounts of credit around May-time, ask for some or all of it back.
- If you are on a prepayment meter, try and put money onto the meter in the spring/summer ready for winter.
- If you pay a bill when it comes, be aware that this is the most expensive way to pay for energy. You could save an average of £129 per year by switching to direct debit (this could be a fixed monthly direct debit or a variable direct debit where you just pay for what you have used).
- If you have an Economy 7 tariff and heat your home with gas or electric room heaters, review whether it would be cheaper to change to a single rate tariff.
What government support schemes are there?
1) £400 for all households
This was paid as £66/£67 per month from October 2022 to March 2023. There are no plans to repeat this in winter 2023/24.
2) £200 if you heat your home with oil, LPG, coal or biomass
Most households should have received this from their electricity supplier in February 2023, others needed to apply. There are no plans to repeat this in winter 2023/24.
3) Ongoing support schemes in 2023:
I'm in debt, is there anything that can help?
Most of the big energy suppliers have Trust Funds that can help with clearing debts on energy accounts, see for example British Gas, Scottish Power, E.ON Next, EDF, Octopus, OVO/SSE, Bulb, Shell, Utility Warehouse. If you are on a low income and there was a good reason why you built the debt up in the first place then it would be worth looking into the Trust Funds. If you would like any further information or help with dealing with debt, please contact us.
Can I get prepayment meters taken out?
Yes if you don’t have any debt on them. British Gas, E.ON Next, EDF, SSE and Scottish Power will now exchange prepayment meters for credit meters free of charge but most will run a credit check first. Others may charge a refundable deposit. Visit the Citizens Advice for more information.
Should I get a smart meter?
There are a number of benefits to getting a smart meter. The smart meter itself is a new type of electricity and gas meter and will send meter readings to your energy company automatically. This means your bills are always accurate, it is also helpful for anyone who finds it difficult to read their own meter. Alongside the new smart meter, you will get an in-house monitor. This shows you how much energy you are using and how much it costs which can be useful to look for ways to reduce usage and save money. To get a smart meter you need to speak to your energy supplier, there is no charge (although we’re really all paying for smart meters through our energy bill).