Anxious energy customers crashed the websites of major suppliers on Thursday as they rushed to avoid a huge price hike.
Those on variable direct debits had been urged by money experts to take a meter reading on March 31 during what has been coined as ‘National Meter Reading Day’.
This is because the energy price cap – the most suppliers can charge per unit – rose by 54 per cent from £1,277 to £1,971 on Friday.
The aim of meter reading was to ensure those on default tariffs were not charged more for energy use before the deadline if suppliers tried to estimate the amount used.
Predictably, everything crashed. It is not the end of the world, however. Most major suppliers offered to accept time dated readings in the days following.
If you think you need to and haven’t done so, please refer to your supplier’s website for more details. Customers with smart meters or fixed tariffs need not do anything at the moment.
Globally of course, energy and fuel prices are soaring, egged on by Putin’s mad attack on the Ukraine. No one can predict where that may end, but analysts are currently variously predicting gas prices may not drop until anything between this time next year and 2025.
It has at least opened the eyes to the ridiculous notion of keeping all your energy eggs in one basket. Thankfully the UK only imports three per cent of gas from Russia, whereas Germany is in the region of 40 per cent. That doesn’t protect us from global price increases, however.
Efforts are being made to increase North Sea production and fracking is once again very much on the agenda, whether we like it or not.
All these things take time and there’s no escaping households will face higher energy bills in the coming months.
The Government has announced various measures including a £200 rebate on gas and electricity bills from October, but no one expects this to do more than ease the sting.
What can you do? The Government on Friday launched a boiler upgrade scheme, to provide grants of up to £6,000 for households to install a heat pump.
This will not be suitable for many homes but you can check eligibility at https://www.gov.uk and searching for ‘boiler upgrade’. You will also find information on energy saving and efficiency.
There’s no denying there will be some pain and our advice is to fully assess the energy you use, look at whether you can reduce anything without compromising health or comfort and consider whether your home could benefit from better insulation or double glazing etc.