Most people will already be aware that, from April 1st, the energy price cap is increasing by 54%.
Unfortunately, this means that millions of people in the UK will see their energy bills increasing by approximately £693 over the next 12 months, from £1,277 to £1,971. And that's just people on default tariffs who pay by direct debit; prepayment customers can expect an even higher increase of £708, from £1,309 to £2,017.
The energy price cap was introduced by The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) in 2019 to prevent energy companies from making excessive profits and ensure customers weren't being overcharged for their energy.
The price cap is updated twice a year to ensure it accurately reflects wholesale energy costs, allowing energy companies to pass reasonable costs on to customers, for example if the price of wholesale gas (the price companies buy it for) increases.
Unfortunately, that is what has happened and gas prices are now at a record high. Over the last year, the price of wholesale gas has quadrupled and, as energy companies can't afford to supply electricity and gas to their customers for less than they paid for it, they will be able to pass the higher costs on to customers when the price cap is next updated, on April 1st.
Normally when people find they're paying more than they feel is reasonable for their energy, they can shop around for cheaper tariffs from different suppliers. However, with the energy market in crisis, this isn't currently an option - every energy company is in the same situation so there simply aren't any cheaper deals to be had.
As a result, the best advice for most people is to do nothing and either stay on a capped tariff or move to one as soon as your current deal ends.
While none of this is ideal - to put it mildly - there are proactive steps households can take to become more energy efficient and keep their energy bills as low as possible. Read on for our top tips.
Don't leave the central heating on
Make the most of your timers and thermostats to ensure you only heat your house when absolutely necessary - it will save the average household around £70 per year. If you find yourself cold at other times, put on an extra layer of clothing or get up and move around for a couple of minutes to warm yourself up. Try to use the heating as a last resort.
Turn off lights when leaving a room
Simple but effective, making sure you never leave lights on in unattended rooms can save you a surprising amount of energy each month. The difficulty is remembering to do it, so try leaving post-it notes on your light switches until it becomes a habit.
Switch to LED lights
Not only are LED lights as much as 90% more energy efficient than regular incandescent light bulbs, they can also last 40-times as long. While they may be more expensive to buy, the savings they offer over the medium and long-term are huge, so it's an investment that's definitely worth making.
Wash your clothes at a lower temperature
Setting your machine to wash at 30 degrees rather than higher temperatures will reduce the amount of energy your washing machine uses by approximately 40% per year.
Waiting until you have enough washing to do a full load is a good idea too, as doing a full cycle with the drum half-empty only wastes water. The same goes for dishwashers too.
Stop having long showers
Reducing the amount of time you spend in the shower to four minutes per person, per day, could save a typical household £65 a year on their energy bills.
Don't overfill the kettle
Despite using them more than almost any other kitchen appliance, most of us are guilty of overfilling our kettles and boiling more water than we actually need on a regular basis. Although it may seem innocuous, only boiling the exact amount of water you immediately require will save you around £11 a year on your electricity bill.
Use your microwave more often
Most of us automatically turn to our ovens, grills or stoves at teatime but microwaves cook food far quicker and don't require preheating. As a result, using your microwave whenever possible will go a long way to helping you reduce energy consumption.
Make sure you're insulated
If you have a loft and cavity walls, insulating both can save you as much as £290 a year by preventing heat loss. The recommended thickness of insulation is 270mm so, even if you're already insulated, it's worth checking the thickness to ensure it's sufficient. If it isn't, topping it up to 270mm could save you an extra £100.
Switch to energy efficient appliances
Refrigerators and dryers are among the most energy-intensive home appliances so find out their energy rating and, if they're not as high as they could be, switching to more efficient models could reduce your energy usage by as much as 50%.
It's also worth remembering that the older the model, the more electricity it uses, so consider replacing yours if it's more than five years old.
Invest in double glazing
Installing double glazed doors and windows throughout your home reduces the amount of heat being lost, keeping your property warmer for longer, ensuring your heating doesn't have to work as hard to reach your preferred temperature and reducing your energy bills.
Buy solar panels
Having solar panels fitted to your property can save you as much as £440 per year; you could also get paid £100+ per quarter for any excess energy you generate but don't use.
If you are worried that the price rise will leave you struggling to afford your energy bills, don't panic - help is available. Contact your supplier to discuss ways to pay them as soon as possible and remember, your supplier is obliged to help you find a solution, so try to negotiate a deal that works for both of you.
If you haven't had time to save extra money since the price cap increase was announced, we can help ensure your energy bills are still paid on time with one of our affordable loans. You could borrow from £250 to £20,000 - click here to find out more.
Leeds City Credit Union is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (FRN 213369).
Tel: (0113) 242 3343 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Registered Office: Leeds City Credit Union Ltd, 2nd Floor Westminster Buildings, 31 New York Street, Leeds LS2 7DT
Site by Shaw, Edinburgh
© Leeds City Credit Union 2018
Due to staff training our City branch will be closed from 9am until 11am today.
Our online and telephone services are running as usual.