Martin Lewis gives three money saving energy bill tips
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Mr Lewis has warned that there are three things Britons should be doing before the end of this month as energy bills are due to skyrocket. April marks the start of Ofgem’s price cap rise from £1,277 to £1,971, a worrying increase for many households teetering closer to poverty as the cost of living crisis continues.
The energy price cap is a set limit on the rates a supplier can charge for each unit of gas and electricity they provide.
Mr Lewis shared in a recent YouTube video from MoneySavingExpert.com that there are three things Britons can do to avoid the heavy hitters due in April.
He began: “We’re in the midst of an energy bills crisis.”
The cap is reviewed twice a year, with the increase announced just last month and Mr Lewis noting another rise due on the first of October.
He said: “If it continues the way it has so far, expect to see another 40 percent rise on top of the April rise. Taking a typical bill for a household to an unaffordable £2,900.”
It has been reported that prepayment customers will be hardest hit as their bills take a £708 leap from £1,309 to £2,017.
Amid all of the other rising prices, taxes and expenses, the fear is that this will be the final nail in the coffin for many households, plunging them into fuel poverty.
Mr Lewis has been sharing insights and guidance for these specific households, and Britons at large, since the beginning of the cost of living crisis and he noted three things they can do to keep the hard hits at bay.
Stockpile energy on non-smart prepaid meters
For households with older prepaid meters, Mr Lewis confirmed that: “You get the rate on the day you top-up not when you use energy.”
He suggested that households max out their top-up allowance before April 1 regardless of how much energy they use.
By doing this, households could have energy in April at March prices.
Mr Lewis highlighted that unfortunately this stockpiling method would not work with smart meters as they are remotely updated with new rates.
He added: “So you can extend the cheap rate we have now for longer by maxing your top-up if you can afford it – and I know not everybody on prepay can.”
Money Saving Expert contacted 11 of the biggest energy suppliers and all but one said this trick would work.
Scottish Power was the only provider that denied this would work as they said they would add an additional amount of debt to their customers meters at their next annual statement.
Money Saving Expert has contacted Ofgem to see the legalities of what Scottish Power claims they will do but is yet to hear back.
Mr Lewis highlighted that customers paying by direct debit can also not use the earlier trick, saying: “If you artificially inflate your direct debit in March, that’s fraud. You can’t do it.”
However, he did share: “I would suggest you do a meter reading today and diarise to do a meter reading on the 31st of March so you draw a line and tell the energy company: ‘All this energy I’ve used should be at the cheap rate.”
Council tax rebate
In April, all homes in band A to D will receive a £150 council tax rebate to help with energy costs.
This scheme was originally announced for England but has since spread to Scotland and Wales too.
Mr Lewis commented: “For the English scheme we are being told you will get the money automatically paid into your bank account as long as you pay council tax by direct debit.”
Customers who don’t pay by direct debit should receive instruction from their local council on how to apply for it.
He concluded: “Keep an eye out for a letter from the council because each council will tell you its claim system and you need to watch for that.
“If you’re not eligible for the £150, say, because you’re in a higher band, then there is a discretionary £140 million fund being set-up to help those who are struggling.
“It will be up to each council to decide how it distributes it, but be ready to claim that.”
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