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Why are energy bills so high and when should I take a meter reading? Why are energy bills so high and when should I take a meter reading?
(32 minutes later)
Millions of households in England, Scotland and Wales could be paying about £700 a year more for electricity and gas, following a price rise this week.Millions of households in England, Scotland and Wales could be paying about £700 a year more for electricity and gas, following a price rise this week.
Energy experts are encouraging customers to take and submit meter readings before the change takes effect, in a bid to save cash.Energy experts are encouraging customers to take and submit meter readings before the change takes effect, in a bid to save cash.
How much will my energy bill go up?How much will my energy bill go up?
From 1 April, about 18 million households on standard tariffs will see an average increase of £693 - from £1,277 to £1,971 per year.From 1 April, about 18 million households on standard tariffs will see an average increase of £693 - from £1,277 to £1,971 per year.
Some 4.5 million prepayment customers will see an average increase of £708 - from £1,309 to £2,017.Some 4.5 million prepayment customers will see an average increase of £708 - from £1,309 to £2,017.
The amount your bill will go up depends on how much energy you use.The amount your bill will go up depends on how much energy you use.
Energy bills won't rise immediately for customers on fixed rates, but many are likely to see a significant increase when their deal ends.Energy bills won't rise immediately for customers on fixed rates, but many are likely to see a significant increase when their deal ends.
Ofgem: Check if the energy price cap affects youOfgem: Check if the energy price cap affects you
Why are bills going up?Why are bills going up?
Bills are going up because the energy price cap - the maximum price suppliers in England, Wales and Scotland can charge households - is being raised.Bills are going up because the energy price cap - the maximum price suppliers in England, Wales and Scotland can charge households - is being raised.
Energy firms will be able to increase bills by 54% when the new cap is introduced on Friday 1 April.Energy firms will be able to increase bills by 54% when the new cap is introduced on Friday 1 April.
The price cap is reviewed every six months, and prices are expected to rise yet again in October.The price cap is reviewed every six months, and prices are expected to rise yet again in October.
A report by the bank Investec has warned bills could reach £3,000 a year.A report by the bank Investec has warned bills could reach £3,000 a year.
Why might I need to read my gas and electricity meters?Why might I need to read my gas and electricity meters?
Experts have been encouraging people without smart meters to submit gas and electricity meter readings on 31 March, the day before bills are set to go up - this Thursday.Experts have been encouraging people without smart meters to submit gas and electricity meter readings on 31 March, the day before bills are set to go up - this Thursday.
This is so they can record the current, less expensive, rates for energy they've been using before the change takes place.This is so they can record the current, less expensive, rates for energy they've been using before the change takes place.
Justina Miltienyte, head of policy at Uswitch.com, says that while there is nothing you can do to reduce the cost of energy, reading the meter will ensure that bills are accurate: "It is always useful to keep your supplier updated regularly on how much energy you are using, but this is especially important before bills rise on 1 April."Justina Miltienyte, head of policy at Uswitch.com, says that while there is nothing you can do to reduce the cost of energy, reading the meter will ensure that bills are accurate: "It is always useful to keep your supplier updated regularly on how much energy you are using, but this is especially important before bills rise on 1 April."
Energy companies' phone lines, websites and apps might be quite busy as a result. If you can't submit your readings, you should take a photo with the meter reading clearly and meter serial number clearly visible.Energy companies' phone lines, websites and apps might be quite busy as a result. If you can't submit your readings, you should take a photo with the meter reading clearly and meter serial number clearly visible.
How do energy prices affect the cost of living?How do energy prices affect the cost of living?
More households are expected to struggle because of bill increases.More households are expected to struggle because of bill increases.
The Resolution Foundation think tank expects the number of homes facing "fuel stress" across the UK to treble to 6.3 million, and says pensioners and people in local authority housing will be hit hardest.The Resolution Foundation think tank expects the number of homes facing "fuel stress" across the UK to treble to 6.3 million, and says pensioners and people in local authority housing will be hit hardest.
It warns UK households are facing a "cost of living catastrophe".It warns UK households are facing a "cost of living catastrophe".
Food prices are also rising, and an increase in National Insurance in April will leave millions facing higher tax bills.Food prices are also rising, and an increase in National Insurance in April will leave millions facing higher tax bills.
The Bank of England has put up interest rates for the second time in three months to try and slow price rises, but it expects that inflation, which tracks how quickly the cost of living changes over time, could hit 8%.The Bank of England has put up interest rates for the second time in three months to try and slow price rises, but it expects that inflation, which tracks how quickly the cost of living changes over time, could hit 8%.
Why are prices rising so quickly?Why are prices rising so quickly?
Four things that are going up in price and whyFour things that are going up in price and why
What are interest rates and why do they matter?What are interest rates and why do they matter?
Why have gas prices gone up?Why have gas prices gone up?
A worldwide squeeze on energy supplies pushed the price of gas up last year.A worldwide squeeze on energy supplies pushed the price of gas up last year.
But wholesale prices have risen even higher since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which is the world's largest natural gas exporterBut wholesale prices have risen even higher since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which is the world's largest natural gas exporter
The UK gets little of its gas from Russia directly, but prices could still be driven up worldwide if Russian supplies to Europe were affected.The UK gets little of its gas from Russia directly, but prices could still be driven up worldwide if Russian supplies to Europe were affected.
Warning UK energy bills could top £3,000 a yearWarning UK energy bills could top £3,000 a year
What can I do to save on fuel?What can I do to save on fuel?
In the past, consumers have been encouraged to shop around when bills rise.In the past, consumers have been encouraged to shop around when bills rise.
But at the moment better offers - especially fixed deals - are not available. People already on fixed deals are advised to stay put.But at the moment better offers - especially fixed deals - are not available. People already on fixed deals are advised to stay put.
Otherwise, households are being encouraged to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.Otherwise, households are being encouraged to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
The Energy Saving Trust says several small changes to our homes and habits could help many people off-set the rise in energy costs by about a third: The Energy Saving Trust says several small changes to our homes and habits could help many people off-set the rise in energy costs by about a third.
switching lights off - £20 per year
keeping shower time to four minutes and swapping one bath per week for a shower - £35 per person per year
reducing your dishwasher or washing machine use by one run per week - £14 per year
What other help is available?What other help is available?
People struggling to afford energy bills can seek advice from charities such as Citizens Advice, Turn2Us or the StepChange debt charity.People struggling to afford energy bills can seek advice from charities such as Citizens Advice, Turn2Us or the StepChange debt charity.
All the big energy firms also have hardship funds that can offer assistance if someone is struggling to pay.All the big energy firms also have hardship funds that can offer assistance if someone is struggling to pay.
The government has said it will offer extra help worth a total of £350 via the council tax system in England too.The government has said it will offer extra help worth a total of £350 via the council tax system in England too.
The warm house discount scheme will also be expanded to cover three million households. It offers low income households a one-off annual discount on their electricity bill, and was worth £140 in 2021-22.The warm house discount scheme will also be expanded to cover three million households. It offers low income households a one-off annual discount on their electricity bill, and was worth £140 in 2021-22.
In October customers in England, Scotland and Wales will receive a £200 rebate on their energy bills. They will have to repay this at £40 a year for five years, starting in April 2023.In October customers in England, Scotland and Wales will receive a £200 rebate on their energy bills. They will have to repay this at £40 a year for five years, starting in April 2023.
The Northern Ireland energy market is separate, but the government has said £150m would be available to support households.The Northern Ireland energy market is separate, but the government has said £150m would be available to support households.