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How to manage increasing energy costs This guide offers key information on the energy crisis, including advice, references to support services and answers to commonly-asked questions to help you prepare for any circumstances.

The rising cost of fuel has plunged the world into an energy crisis. It’s caused inflation to rocket and has seen the cost of living reach its highest level in three decades. 

Many of the nation’s households are already struggling to keep up with the hike, leaving some of them faced with the impossible choice between ‘heating or eating’. And yet, things are only set to deteriorate as more families feel the squeeze over the coming weeks and months.

In April, household outgoings will reach unprecedented levels as National Insurance contributions rise and the energy price cap - the maximum amount suppliers can charge per unit of electricity and gas increases by almost £700 a year.

This higher cap will affect an estimated 22 million customers in England, Scotland, and Wales on a variable rate tariff. In this unfavourable financial climate, effectively managing your money and knowing where to turn for support should you need it could prove invaluable.

  • How you can save on energy bills

    The prospect of rising energy prices is certainly unnerving but making small changes around the house can help prevent extortionate costs. Take a look at our top five energy-saving tips designed to reduce your energy consumption and lower your bills. 

      
    Turn it down 

    It may sound obvious, but one of the most effective ways to reduce your energy bill is to turn down your thermostat. According to the Energy Saving Trust, twisting the dial just one degree could cut your bill by around 10%. 
     
    Switch off standby 

    You can save around £55 a year just by remembering to turn your appliances off standby mode. You may want to think about getting a standby saver or smart plug which allows you to turn all your appliances off standby in one go. 

    Draught-proof your home 

    Heat loss through gaps around doors, windows and through poorly insulated lofts and cavity walls can cost you as much as £300 a year. Fitting the loft with insulating materials and putting draught excluders underneath and around your doors can significantly reduce heat loss. 

    Wash at lower temperatures 

    According to the Energy Saving Trust, washing clothes at 30 degrees Celsius over the course of a year uses almost half the amount of electricity as washing at higher temperatures, saving an estimated £13 a year. Meanwhile turning the dial down even further and washing at 20 degrees will give you an annual saving of £24. 
      
    Spend less time in the shower 

    Cutting down your shower time by just one minute will cut your energy bill by £7 a year for each person in your household. And if you’re on a water meter, spending less time in the shower will knock a few pounds of your water bill, too. 

     

    The website MoneySavingExpert offers advice and tips on keeping costs low during the energy price hike by ‘heating the human not the home’. Read the full article here.

  • Getting support

    There are a variety of organisations that can provide support during this unprecedented time. 


    Energy suppliers 

    Check what help is available from your energy supplier as many of the big companies, including EDF Energy, Scottish Power and E.ON to name but a few, are able to offer financial support to customers. 

    British Gas in particular has created a £2 million winter fuel fund with grants of up to £750 to help vulnerable households clear energy debts. To be eligible you must not have more than £1,000 in savings and spend more than 10 per cent of your household income on energy costs.  

    Similarly, the British Gas Energy Trust also offers grants of up to £1,000 for boiler replacements and energy efficiency measures to all households regardless of their supplier. You don’t need to be a British Gas customer to apply for help from the British Gas Energy Trust. 

    Government aid 

    The Government has many support funds in place to help those in need.  

    The new Household Support Fund grant which runs until 31st March is a pot of £500 million managed and distributed by local councils across the country. It is a means-tested grant designed to help vulnerable people pay for food, energy and water bills. To find out if you’re eligible and apply, contact your local council. 

    The Warm Home Discount is a one-off £140 payment off your electricity bill which is designed to help reduce costs for those living on a low income or pension over the winter months. Find out if you’re eligible here.

    Read the government’s advice on what to do if you’re worried about rising bills here.
  • Support from BWC

    We recommend first speaking to your energy provider to see what they can do for you. Some companies offer help to those that have large arrears on their gas, electricity or water bills. The range of options include hardship funds, affordable debt repayment plans, payment breaks or reductions. 

    If you’re still struggling to afford your energy bill in light of the price hike, we’re here to help and can offer a range of support including: 


    Grants and benefits eligibility 

    Our team can help you find out if you’re eligible for a grant and, if you are, how to apply. 

    In exceptional cases, BWC is able to offer a one-off grant of up to £500 which is exclusively designed to help with the increased cost of fuel bills as a result of the energy crisis. Contact us today to find out more and check if you’re eligible. 

    Budget management  

    Our website contains articles and tools to help you manage your money effectively. We have advice on how to track your spending and you can even make your own budget to work towards. In some cases, BWC is able to make a referral to our partner organisations that specialise in finance management, too. 

    Energy help and advice 

    Our team can signpost to utility organisations and energy company trust funds who can provide information and support. 

     
    One of the best ways of getting in touch with us is to call our free and confidential Helpline on 0800 0234 834 – we're open 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday. You’ll be able to speak with an experienced Client Adviser who will listen to your concerns and advise you on the next steps to take and if there is any financial assistance we can provide.
  • Frequently Asked Questions

    What if I can’t afford to pay the increased rate?

    If you can’t afford to pay your energy bill, your first port of call should be your energy provider. Speak to them immediately to explain your situation as late payments may incur penalties. They may be able to help by offering affordable debt repayment plans, payment breaks or reductions. 

    If you don’t qualify for help from your energy provider, contact BWC. One of our expert Client Advisers will listen to your concerns and give you the best-informed advice of what steps to take next. 
      
    Will my energy supply be cut off? 

    No, your supply won't be cut off – disconnections of standard credit meters have been suspended, while prepayment customers can get emergency or additional credit to ensure the lights stay on.  
     
    Should I go on a fixed tariff? 

    Current advice from MoneySavingExpert founder, Martin Lewis, is for most people to do nothing - to stick on the price cap and don't fix. In light of the soaring wholesale energy costs, most fixed deals have now been pulled from the market or have rocketed in price meaning that there isn’t a single fixed tariff out there that will be cheaper than the new energy price cap. It’s worth noting, however, that the situation is constantly changing and it’s advisable to regularly check the guidance. You can find out more at Martin Lewis’s site, moneysavingexpert.com. 
      
    Will the prices go up even more? 

    Analysts have predicted that the energy price cap could increase further yet when it is reviewed again in October. On top of the £693 hike in April, experts have forecast the cap to rise by another £300 by the end of the year. Wholesale gas prices could increase even further if Russia hits back at Western sanctions by cutting off gas supplies to European countries. This could result in a further hike to bills. 
      
    When might prices start falling? 

    Until a few months ago, wholesale gas prices had been expected to start falling next summer. But now Bank of England boss, Andrew Bailey, has said that financial markets do not foresee energy prices to start easing back until the second half of 2023.  

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