Why are energy bills going up?

In recent months you will surely have heard about the ongoing energy crisis. Firstly, it is important to understand the causes behind this. 

The crisis we currently face is not one that can be attributed to merely one factor. In fact, arguably it is made up of a combination of factors:

  • A cold winter in Europe 2020/2021 put pressure on supplies and the amount of gas stored.
  • The generation of wind energy was also severely affected due to a windless summer in 2021.
  • An increased in demand of energy from Asia has put pressure I natural gas prices resulting in a price increase due to its increased demand
  • Wholesale prices of energy have risen as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

These conditions meant UK energy reservoirs were depleted. As a result, by the end of December in 2021, 28 energy companies went bust impacting over 2 million customers within the UK.

How does this impact your energy bills?

Ofgem, an energy regulator, introduced an ‘energy price cap’ in the UK from January 2019 as a result of concerns customers were paying too much for their energy because they were not switching suppliers to find a cheaper a tariff. 

Consequently, this cap was introduced in order to cap the amount an energy supplier could charge for their energy. In February 2022, Ofgem announced they would allow the cap to be raised by 54% to meet the increase in the price of energy. This means, from 1st April 2022 millions of people across the UK instantly faced much steeper bills.

The current estimate is that the price cap in October 2022 will increase by an incredible 78%. Find out what this will mean for your bill but typing in your current annual energy costs below, in the ‘Current Bill’ column.

Renewables vs Putin - moving away from fossil fuels and to renewable energy - reliance on gas heating

What help is available to me?

Unfortunately, the reality is energy prices will be going up. However, there is help out there for you if you find yourself struggling to meet these rising costs.

Read on to find out what help is available to you. If you want to speak with BHESCo energy adviser then please call us on 0800 999 6671 or complete our online contact form.

£400 Government support for all households

Every household in the UK will receive a £400 rebate on their energy bill in October. This does not need to be repaid. 

Customers who pay by Direct Debit or upon receipt of a quarterly bill will have £400 deducted from their bill. 

Customers who pay for their energy by prepayment meter will receive vouchers worth £400 or, if they have a smart meter, the meter will be credited with £400.

Extra financial support for households who receive benefits or pensions.

Households who receive means-tested benefits will be eligible for £650 which will paid directly into their bank accounts in two lump sums – one in July, the other in the autumn.

There will also be separate one-off payments of £300 to pensioner households and £150 to individuals receiving disability benefits.

Warm Home Discount

The Warm Home Discount scheme is a government initiative to help people who may be struggling to pay their energy bills. This initiative could get you up to £140 off your electricity bill. 

Moreover, the government is in talks to increase this amount to £150. There are two ways to be eligible for the Warm Home Discount Scheme:

  • You get the Guarantee Credit element of the Pension Credit.
  • Your are on a low income and meet your energy company’s criteria.

£150 Council Tax Rebate

From April, household with direct debits set up with their local council will receive a rebate of £150 paid directly into their accounts in a government initiative to help millions of families manage the rising cost of living. 

20 million households within the council tax bans A to D will benefit from this £3 billion council tax rebate. In addition, those would do not pay by direct debit will also be included within this scheme but will be contacted directly by their council and invited to make a claim.

The Fuel Bank Foundation

The Fuel Bank Foundation is an organisation that provides emergency fuel vouchers for people who can’t afford to top up their prepayment gas and/or electricity meters. 

Since it was launched in 2015, Fuel Bank Foundation has helped more than half a million people and provided £6.7m worth of fuel vouchers to support vulnerable families and individuals. 

The Fuel Bank can be found in selected foodbanks and other agencies across the UK and can provide approximately two weeks’ worth of fuel to clients who use a prepayment meter and who have been deemed as in ‘crisis need’ by an independent referrer.

Brighton Lions Club Project Wenceslas

The Brighton Lions Club is a local organisation that supports Project Wenceslas; a campaign to alleviate fuel poverty within Brighton and Hove. 

Donations are made to the Brighton Lions Club and then are distributed to vulnerable people within the local area through requests made by agencies such as Citizens Advice, Age UK and BHESCo.

Brighton & Hove City Council Local Discretionary Fund

Brighton & Hove City Council offer a Local Discretionary Fund for those who are struggling to make ends meet. This fund will not provide cash, but will provide you vouchers. The Local Discretionary Fund can be used to help with:

  • Buying food and groceries
  • Paying for gas and electricity if you pay for it by key card or meter
  • Essential home items such as: beds, cookers or fridges
  • Other support you could need

To be eligible for this Fund you must:

  • Live in Brighton & Hove
  • Be eligible for benefits or tax credits or Council Tax reduction
  • Meet one of the following criteria:
    • you are leaving a place of care, prison or temporary supported housing and need help establishing a home
    • without the items you apply for, you would not be able to remain living independently without the need of formal care
    • you have a need that has come as a result of an emergency or disaster and you or a family member will be at risk if this need is not met
    • you need help to pay for essentials you can’t live without this winter

To apply for this fund, please go to the following website and fill in their application: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/benefits/help-and-support/get-emergency-help-food-energy-bills-and-other-essentials

If you would like further information or have any questions, please contact the Discretionary Help and Advice team:

  • by phone on 01273 293 117, option 1
  • email at LDSF@brighton-hove.gov.uk

Switching tariff or supplier

Should you choose a fixed tariff?

Historically it has always been advisable to choose a fixed rate energy tariff over a variable rate energy tariff. 

A fixed rate tariff will guarantee you a price for the next twelve months, and over recent years would typically be around £300 per year cheaper than a variable rate tariff. 

This is no longer the case however, with fixed tariffs being significantly more expensive than the variable rate option.

A new price cap for standard variable tariffs comes into force on 1st April 2022 that will run until 30th September 2022. Under this cap, the average annual spend for a household paying by Direct Debit will be £1,971. As most fixed tariff offers are more expensive than this, then it makes sense to stay with a variable tariff. 

However, a new price cap will come into force on 1st October 2022 that will last until 31st March 2023. Many analysts predict that this will increase costs by 30% again, making average annual bills around £2,500.

With this anticipated increase in mind, it could make sense to choose a fixed tariff to protect against this October increase. 

Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert.com advises that customers should only choose a fixed tariff which is not more than 50% more expensive than their existing variable tariff. 

Should you switch your energy supplier?

In past years there have always been savings to be gained by comparing your energy tariff against others on offer and switching to one that is cheaper. This could be either with another energy company, or simply to another tariff within your existing supplier.

However, due to the unprecedented rise in wholesale gas costs, every energy company in the UK has set its prices as high as they are allowed to under the energy price cap.  

All of the energy companies currently have their variable tariff set as high as they can go under the energy price cap, so there is no difference in cost between suppliers. 

Due to the expected continued market volatility, it is generally advised that customers stay with their current supplier for the immediate future, 

Making energy efficiency improvements to your home

Making energy efficiency improvement to your home is the most effective way of reducing energy costs in the long-term.

It is important for private renters to be aware that there are Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards in place, which make it unlawful for a landlord to rent any property which has an Energy Performance Certificate rating (an EPC) of F or G.

You can read more about this here – https://bhesco.co.uk/blog/minumum-energy-efficiency-standards-mees.

Brighton and Hove Council Housing Energy Efficiency Plan

Additionally, Brighton and Hove City Council are working towards becoming carbon neutral by 2030 which includes making council home more energy efficient which will in turn reduce the cost of energy bills. 

This has included the fitting of over 400 solar panel systems within council homes resulting in a reduction in carbon emissions from homes. Moreover, Brighton and Hove City Council have pushed for the replacement of old inefficient gas boilers in favour of more energy efficient equivalents.

The Warm Safe Home Grant

Funding is available to people on low incomes who wish to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. This can be a grant of up to £20,000 and can be used to fund electrical and gas safety checks including repairs, boiler repairs/replacements and loft and cavity wall insulations. These measures will all help drive the cost of energy bills down. 

Applications for this funding is managed through the Disabled Facilities Grants process, to find out more information about the Warm, Safe Home grant please contact the Disabled Facilities Grant team by emailing disabledfacilitiesgrant@brighton-hove.gov.uk or calling 01273 294366.

ECO4

Eligible households can apply for energy efficiency funding directly from their energy supplier.

ECO4 funding is available for several measures including:

1.Cavity Wall Insulation,

  1. Gas Boiler Replacement/Upgrade,
  2. First Time Gas Connection,
  3. Heating Controls upgrade,
  4. Loft/Room-in-Roof Insulation,
  5. Solid Wall Insulation, External Insulation among others.
  6. Electric storage heating

ECO4 is available to: Homeowners or Private Tenants, Individuals who get income-related benefits, Properties with inefficient electric heating.

You can check their eligibility and connect with your energy company, local authority or installers in your area at https://energysavinggenie.co.uk/apply-for-grants/

Local Authority Delivery funding (LAD)

The Local Authority Delivery Scheme is available to households across England who can meet the following criteria:

– Households should have a combined income of no more than £30,000

– Homes to be improved should be currently rated as EPC E, F or G

– 100% subsidy for owner-occupiers (up to £10,000)

– Two third subsidy for social and private landlords (up to £5,000) – landlords need to find an additional 1/3 of the cost.

The programme is administered through Local Authorities and/ or companies like Agility Eco or other partners such as local community energy groups.

Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS)

The government will provide grants to encourage property owners to install low carbon heating systems such as heat pumps, through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS). These grants will help property owners overcome the upfront cost of low carbon heating technologies.

The scheme will be open to domestic and small non-domestic properties in England and Wales. It will run from 2022 to 2025.

More – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-may-be-eligible-for-the-boiler-upgrade-scheme-from-april-2022

Low cost 'soft' measures

The UK has some of the least energy-efficient housing in Europe, meaning it can be very difficult for some families to keep their homes warm as heat escapes very easily due to the house itself not being energy efficient.

This is due to the fact most of the housing within the UK dates back to the 1990s or earlier when regulations on energy efficiency did not exist. To combat this, there are a range of ‘soft measures’ you can adopt to make your home more energy efficient which means you won’t need to use your heating as much.

For example, the use of draught excluders can cut your energy bills by 2%, which can amount to around £30 on average every year. Draught-proofing your chimney could also reduce your energy bills by 1.5%. Moreover, you can further insulate your windows with insulating film that will further aid in making your home more energy efficient.

Read our blog ‘Six quick and easy ways to save energy and stay warm this winter‘.

Some ideas might include:

6 ways to save energy in your home brighton and hove - draught excluder strips
Adding simple low-cost energy saving measures to your property can make your home warmer and cheaper to heat

LEAP Programme

LEAP is a free service which aims to help people keep warm and consequently reduce their energy bills. LEAP operates through referrals made by food banks, Citizens Advice, health clinics, housing officers or local contact authorities who can refer anyone who is in fuel poverty. 

Once a referral has been made, an energy advisor from LEAP will contact you to discuss your situation and offer you tailored advice to your needs. This may result in an additional referral to a relevant organisation or a follow-up home visit.

To start the application or for further information, please go to the following website: https://applyforleap.org.uk/apply/

Energy saving behaviours

There are ways to cut down energy bills by simply adopting some energy saving behaviours. These easy tweaks in your family’s everyday routine could go a long way in reducing your energy bill.

  • Turn thermostat down 1oC – for every degree you turn down your heating, this will cut your bills down by 4% or £65 a year on average.  However you must not set your thermostat lower than 18oC in winter months for health reasons. Optimum living room temp is 21oC, everywhere else is 18oC, or lower if unoccupied rooms that have TRVs on radiators that can be turned down.
  • Use heat sparingly – with the warmer months approaching, it is best to only use your heating when you really need it rather than leaving it on low all day.
  • Reduce the number of laundry washes each week, and using full loads rather than more frequent half loads where possible, as tumble dryers consume a lot of electric power. Use low temp washes where possible, i.e. 30 or 40oC, avoid 60oC washes or higher, whenever possible.
  • LED Bulbs – LED bulbs consume about half the energy of bigger energy-saving bulbs. Additionally, making sure you turn the lights off when you leave a room could save you up to £14 annually.
  • Reduce your water usage – with an energy-saving shower head you will use less water while showering, which also means you will use less hot water. Annually, this could save you up to £35. Cutting your shower time can also help in reducing your energy bills. By taking just a minute in the shower, this could save you up to £75 in energy bills a year and also £105 a year in water bills.

if you have any other suggestiosn for saving energy and reducing bills then please leave your ideas in the comments section below.

Regular meter readings or get a smart meter

By suppling regular meter readings to your energy supplier this will ensure you are charged the correct amount for how much you have used. Without this, your energy supplier will have to estimate how much energy you have used which could be more than you have in reality.

A smart meter automatically sends meter readings for you to your supplier. Even if you switch supplier that doesn’t work with smart meters you will be able to manually take down the meter readings from your smart meter.

energy saving smart devices technologies brighton hove sussex
Having a smart meter installed means an end to estimated billing - you will only pay for what you have used

BHESCo Energy Survey

A further option available to you would be to book an energy survey here with us at BHESCo. We believe that home owners should maximise the energy efficiency of their own homes before investing in any renewable energy solutions. Through an energy survey our Energy Saving Team will conduct an on-site analysis in order to provide a through and detailed examination of the heating and powering of your property. Following on from this, a detailed report will be created recommending the most cost-effective solutions

This report will also measure and compare the reduction in demand we would expect installing different types of energy saving measures and other green energy solutions would result in.

To book an energy survey, please visit our dedicated webpage:

The Priority Services Register

The Priority Services Register (PSR) is a free service provided by suppliers and network operators designed to give vulnerable customers access to the services they need. 

The list of services and benefits is quite long and varies by energy supplier, but one of the main advantages is that you cannot be disconnected if you are on the Priority Services Register. 

It could include anything from meter reading services at appropriate intervals to free gas safety checks, meter relocations, and assistance with billing (large-format or Braille bills). Individuals on the Priority Services Register can also expect advanced notices of interruptions to their service, and priority attention during a power cut.

There are no clear-cut definitions regarding who qualifies. You’ll normally be able to get priority services if your energy companies class you as ‘vulnerable’.

You could be classed as vulnerable if you are disabled or have a long-term health condition, are recovering from an injury, have mental health problems, have children under 5 or are pregnant, have reached your State Pension age.

Each energy supplier and/or network operator is responsible for maintaining its own Priority Services Register, subject to the definitions of vulnerability. No proof of your disability, impairment, or age is required, allowing more people to access PSR benefits.

You need to contact your energy supplier to get on the Priority Services Register since each energy supplier and network operator maintains its own register. 

Conclusions

Here at BHESCo, we understand how troubling the rise of energy prices may be for residents throughout Sussex. Through the information provided above we have tried to highlight how there is help out there should you need it. 

If you have any questions or queries regarding the riding cost of energy, please contact BHESCo:

References

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-10484905/What-200-energy-bill-rebate-turn-dont-want-it.html
https://www.examinerlive.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/martin-lewis-warns-200-energy-23059102
https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/households-urged-to-get-ready-for-150-council-tax-rebate
https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/news/2021/progress-making-homes-more-sustainable
https://www.fuelbankfoundation.org/news/rising-cost-of-living-exacerbating-fuel-poverty-crisis/
https://www.fuelbankfoundation.org/the-movement/
https://applyforleap.org.uk/how-leap-works/
https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/benefits/help-and-support/get-emergency-help-food-energy-bills-and-other-essentials
https://www.sussexlive.co.uk/news/cost-of-living/moneysavingexpert-martin-lewis-nine-simple-6806693
https://theconversation.com/the-uk-has-some-of-the-least-energy-efficient-housing-in-europe-heres-how-to-fix-this-151609

Categories: News & Blog

2 Comments

Anonymous · 01/07/2022 at 11:58

Thank you for the extensive cover of energy saving tips.
Can I suggest that you include the measure that when you boil the kettle, you only put sufficient water into it for the current need – if you are making a hot drink for yourself and your partner, you only need to boil half a litre of water. not the whole kettle full!

Anonymous · 01/07/2022 at 19:58

Also, turn the kettle off manually just as it comes to the boil rather than letting it boil to make sufficient steam to turn itself off.

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