Millions of households will see their energy bills soar from Thursday – unless they take action now
Millions of households will see their energy bills soar from Thursday – unless they take action now.
The rises are due to a toxic combination of 98 fixed-term deals expiring this month and the price cap – which limits how much suppliers can charge for energy – rising by £96 a year. About 11 million households could see bills increase, some by as much as £326 a year, according to the personal finance website Forbes Advisor UK.
The advice – as usual – is to use a price comparison website to shop around for a cheaper deal. If you have never done this or you have not done so for a long time, you could save about £300 a year, according to the price comparison website MoneySuperMarket. But what of those people who are unsure of how to switch or do not feel comfortable doing it online?
Cutting costs: The advice – as usual – is to use a price comparison website to shop around for a cheaper deal
First, you are not alone. As many as seven per cent of energy bill payers say they don’t know how to switch supplier, according to a survey by renewable energy provider Pure Planet.
We asked the experts what you need to know if you want help switching provider – or if you want to help someone else to switch. There are just a few key pieces of information you need to switch supplier. If you are comfortable sharing these with a trusted family member or friend, they should be able to complete the online process on your behalf.
Max Green, an energy expert at the comparison website Confused.com, says: ‘Whether you’re looking to make a switch yourself or help someone else save money on their gas and electricity tariff, it’s a really simple process.
‘All that’s needed is the address, direct debit details and some personal information, such as name, date of birth and email address.’
If you have a bill, that can help as it will name your current energy supplier and give an indication of your usage. But usually you can complete the switch without one, so don’t worry if you can’t find a bill.
If you want to switch yourself, but without using the internet, you can do it by phone. MoneySuperMarket is one switching service that offers a free phone line for those who prefer to switch that way. The number is 0800 170 1921.
Even if you don’t want to switch provider, you can still save money. Contact your provider using the phone number on your bill and ask to be switched to a cheaper tariff. You are unlikely to get the cheapest deal on the market, but you are still likely to make a saving.
If you are helping someone who has never switched before, they are likely to have many questions. Confused.com has put together a guide with straightforward answers to the most common questions. You may want to use this when talking them through the process.
Green says: ‘With restrictions still in place, it can be difficult to pop around and help family members in person. But our guide outlines how the switching process works and what happens once you’ve chosen a new supplier. This should help if you’re trying to explain the process over the phone.’
You can find the guide at confused. com/gas-electricity/guides/the-supplier-switching-process. If you are helping someone who is on a low income, bear in mind that they may qualify for the Warm Home Discount Scheme, which is a £140 discount on electricity bills.
Not all energy suppliers offer it – although all the larger ones do – so be sure to pick one that does.
All energy providers have a Priority Services Register. This is a free service that offers extra help to certain people with managing energy bills. You may be eligible if you are of pensionable age, have a health condition, have additional communication needs, or are in a vulnerable situation.
Once on the register, you can also ask your supplier to send communications such as statements and bills to a family member, carer or someone else you trust.
Other benefits include receiving advance notice of planned power cuts and help to identify someone acting on behalf of your supplier to reassure you they are genuine.