What's happening to energy bills next winter?
The UK energy regulator Ofgem is reducing the energy price cap on 1st October 2023 by 7%, which will result in lower bills for any household on a Standard Variable Tariff.
This will make energy costs the lowest they have been for several years. However, energy prices are still almost double what they were as recently as 2020.
Whilst lower prices are of course a good thing, many families across the country will continue to struggle with energy costs this winter because there is much less help available compared to winter 2022 / 23.
Last winter the Government stepped in with a £400 payment to every household as part of their Energy Bill Support Scheme. Furthermore, domestic energy prices were kept artificially low by the Energy Price Guarantee, where the Government paid a portion of people’s unit rates on their bill.
However, this support came at a cost of £40billion to the UK Government, so it is not surprising that a similar scheme has not been introduced for Winter 2023 / 24.
Should you fix your energy tariff for 12 months?
BHESCo have reviewed the analysis by leading market forecasters Cornwall Insight, and concluded that it is a good idea for energy customers to fix on a 12 month deal at October 2023 prices.
The energy price cap is reviewed every 3 months, with the next change coming in January 2024. Over the year ahead, the energy price cap is expected to fluctuate a little up and a little down, but overall we believe that it will end up being slightly more expensive for customers who stay on a Standard Variable Tariff.
For this reason, and for your own peace of mind, we think it is a good decision to fix for 12 months at the new price cap rate from 1st October 2023.
However, every household is different, and this recommendation may not be right for everyone. If you want more personalised advice on what is best for your home then please talk to a BHESCo energy advisor on 01273 284470, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What can people do to reduce energy costs in the home?
There are many small ways that you can make improvements to the energy efficiency of your home, which are discussed in more details in our blog “6 quick and easy ways to save energy and stay warm this winter“.
We would advise installing any of the following ‘light-touch’ measures which you can buy from outlets like Robert Dyas or B&Q:
> radiator reflector foil
> secondary window glazing
> LED lights
> draught excluders
> draught proofing strips
> chimney balloon
You can introduce more significant improvements by installing loft or wall insulation through the Government’s new Great British Insulation Scheme, which provides grants of £1,500 to qualifying households. To qualify, you must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of D or lower and live in Council Tax bands A – D.
What more could Government be doing to help reduce energy bills?
We believe that the best long-term solution to reducing energy costs for British households is by retrofitting properties with energy efficiency improvements in maximising renewable energy generation across the country.
Wind and solar power are much much cheaper to develop than fossil fuels or nuclear power, and they can be rolled out in a fraction of the time.
New oil and gas developments like the Rosebank oilfield in the North Sea will do nothing for UK energy bills because all of the energy resources that are developed will be sold on international markets to the highest bidder.
Domestic renewables however cannot be sold overseas, and will benefit the communities nearest to where they are sited.
The UK Government should also introduce new regulations to force landlords to improve the EPC of their properties to a minimum of C as soon as is possible. If needed they can make grants available to support the cost of these measures, and fine landlords who do not meet the new standards.
What support is available to help people in Brighton and Hove with energy bills
For low-income households who are at risk of experiencing fuel poverty there are a number of grants and schemes available to help.
People who have pre-payment top-up meters can apply for an energy voucher from the Fuel Bank Foundation.
Households who pay for their energy by Direct Debit or quarterly billing can apply for a grant from Brighton & Hove Citizens Advice.
Homeowners (or those in rented properties) who are in receipt of benefits can apply for a grant for home energy improvements under Brighton and Hove City Council’s Warm Safe Homes Grant.
You can read about these support schemes and other in more detail on BHESCo’s dedicated energy bill support page.