How steeply will your fuel bills rise in the new year?
There are six major energy suppliers in the UK - EDF Energy, British Gas, EON UK, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE. EDF Energy says it will hike its electricity prices by 8.4% from March 2017, with commentators suggesting that the other major suppliers are likely to follow suit. The hike is being blamed on rising costs, however, EDF has also said it will cut gas prices by 5.2%.
Customers who have both their electricity and gas with EDF, will see their bills rise by 1.2%, so on average they will be paying £1,082 a year. The experts from Energyhelpline expect average price rises from the other major suppliers to be around the 5% mark. They are urging people to leave standard tariffs and start a more affordable, fixed rate tariff while they still can. An expert at uSwitch is encouraging people to do this as soon as possible, as wholesale price increases have caused the cheapest deal to rise by £126 in the last two months.
If you are an EDF customer, you should receive a letter informing you of the price changes before they take effect, and with information about the cheapest tariffs available to you.
Your energy bills are classed as priority payments, which means you should put them first before things like unsecured debt repayments and non-essential spending. This is because the consequences of not paying these bills can be severe – you don’t want to be left unable to heat or light your home.
If you’re a customer of one of the six big energy companies, and you’re worried about the price rises that seem to be coming your way, there are certain things you can do to keep in control of your bills. The first thing you should do is make sure you have a look at some price comparison sites and find the best deal available to you.
According to The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), over two-thirds of people are still on standard variable tariffs, meaning millions of people are paying more than they need to for their energy. You should see whether you can start a low-cost, fixed rate deal. Fixed rate deals lock the price you pay down for a certain period of time so standard rate increases – like the one mentioned above – won’t affect you.
It’s also usually cheaper to pay your bills via Direct Debit. If you’re on a prepayment meter and want to switch, you need to make sure you don’t owe your supplier any money and you may have to go through a credit check before you’re allowed to do this.
If you want to cut down on your energy use, you should turn down your thermostat, turn off the lights when you leave a room, and use energy saving lightbulbs. Installing insulation can also save you money. You can do the smaller insulation jobs, like draught excluding, yourself by getting rid of draughts around doors and windows. The bigger jobs, like wall, roof and floor insulation, require professionals and are significantly more expensive. You may be able to get a grant to help with the cost of this or a new boiler, through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). Contact your supplier to find out whether you’re eligible.
Debt Advisory Centre: 0161 871 4881