Come October, most of us are going to see an unwelcome change to our monthly outgoings, as energy bills are set to rise steeply – in many cases, by as much as 40%.
This could amount to hundreds of pounds each year, and early predictions are that prices may well rise again come the spring.
If this news leaves you feeling cold, then at least take comfort in the fact that there are several things you can do right now to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Switch as soon as possible
Switching energy suppliers once a year used to be our favourite tip for shaving a little bit off your monthly bills. Unfortunately, this year, you’re likely to end up paying more even after you switch. That’s especially true if you’re coming to the end of a decent fixed rate deal. At the moment, even the cheapest new offers are significantly more expensive than what we’re used to paying.
However that shouldn’t stop you switching – and the sooner the better. If you can get onto a decent fixed rate now, before the upcoming price hikes come into effect, then you can protect yourself from the full force of the changes. It may not be as cheap as your current rate, but it will still save you money over the coming year.
MoneySavingExpert’s Martin Lewis advises: “If you do a cheap one-year fixed comparison and you can lock in at a cheaper rate for a year, it’s worth doing even if the saving is only a few quid. The likelihood is that over the next year the price cap will rise so your real savings will be bigger.”
Take advantage of cashback and other deals
Some price comparison sites offer cashback if you choose to go with the deal that they recommend. While you should only ever pick a deal that offers the best prices long-term, it doesn’t hurt to factor in the cashback, especially if it equates to a month or more of free bills. Similarly, some suppliers will offer bonuses for signing up with them. For instance, at the time of writing Sainsbury’s Energy are offering free nectar points for people who switch onto a one- or two-year fixed rate.
Help for those who are struggling
If you’re simply unable to pay the rising cost of your energy bill, there Is help available. Suppliers should be willing to offer measures such as payment breaks or a review of your payment plan. You’ll need to contact them and explain that you’re struggling to pat. There is also a £140 grant available from the government – all of the details are available here. It’s also worth noting that energy suppliers are currently unable to cut people off altogether due to measures put in place for the pandemic. However, it’s unclear how long that will be the case.
Overall, it seems that we will all have to brace ourselves for an expensive few months ahead, and hope that measures are put in place soon to limit what energy companies can charge. Definitely check a couple of comparison sites to see what deals are out there, and start getting used to the idea that this winter will be all about pulling out the blankets rather than ratcheting up the heating.