Home Finance Millions of Brits issued urgent 48-hour energy meter warning

Millions of Brits issued urgent 48-hour energy meter warning

Some 10 million households are being urged to send energy meter readings to their supplier this weekend to ensure they do not overpay when cheaper prices come into effect on April 1. The average household energy bill is set to drop to its lowest point in two years starting next month.

This follows Ofgem’s decision to lower its price cap in response to wholesale prices.

The regulator is reducing its price cap by 12.3 percent from the current £1,928 annual average for a typical dual fuel household in England, Scotland and Wales to £1,690. This marks a decrease of £238 over a year or around £20 per month.

The average household on a Standard Variable T(SVT) is expected to spend £127 on energy in April, compared with £205 in March, due to a combination of cheaper rates and lower usage over the spring.

Customers on SVTs who do not have a smart meter and fail to submit meter readings on or around April 1 risk being charged at the previous, higher rates for some of their usage after that date.

The difference between a week’s worth of energy at the old rates compared with a week in April was £4.65 for the average household, Uswitch warned.

New research from the comparison site found nearly a fifth of households that do not have a smart meter (18 percent) have not submitted their meter readings in the last three months. Meanwhile, four percent have not done so for a whole year, a survey for the comparison site found.

Suppliers who have not received meter readings base their bills on estimated usage, meaning households could be overpaying, while others may not be paying enough.

A quarter of those who have not submitted their readings in the last three months (24 percent) said they forgot to, while 17 percent said it was “too much hassle”, Uswitch said.

Some 14 percent of those who had not submitted readings did not know how to read their meter, and 12 percent said they did not even know where their meter was.

Meanwhile, 22 percent of households said they had made a mistake when submitting their meter readings, with mixing up gas and electricity meters and writing digits in the wrong order as the most common errors.

Ben Gallizzi, energy spokesman at Uswitch.com , said: “We urge any households without a smart meter to submit their meter readings this bank holiday weekend, so their supplier has an updated and accurate view of your account on or around April 1.

“This is when the next energy price cap comes into effect, which will see the rates that households on standard variable tariffs pay for their energy fall for April, May and June.

“If you delay submitting your readings, some of your energy usage could end up being charged under the higher rates we’re currently facing.

“All households without a smart meter should ideally submit a meter reading every month to improve the accuracy of their bills.”

Opinium surveyed 2,000 UK adults online between March 1-5.

But despite these lower prices, it should be noted that typical bills under the price cap will still almost be 40 percent higher than in winter 2021/22.

Additionally, experts warn the price cap only sets a limit on the maximum amount that suppliers can charge for each unit of gas and electricity but not your total bill – so if consumers use more, they will pay more.

Les Roberts, business energy comparison expert at Bionic said: “The most important step to take if you feel you cannot afford your energy bill is to contact your supplier as they are obliged to outline your options, such as organising a payment plan.

“Under official Ofgem rules, your provider must organise an affordable payment plan and as part of this, consumers have the right to ask for a bills review to see if the amount is correct, a break from payments until you can afford to pay, a reduction to an affordable rate, access to advice on how to reduce energy usage or more time between payments.”

Mr Roberts added that providers must also give access to any available hardship funds or charitable grants, or help people apply for any available Government grants if they have not been automatically applied.

Mr Roberts said: “One such example is the Cold Weather Payment which is available once the temperature drops below a certain level and you are state pension age or claiming Universal Credit or Jobseekers Allowance.”


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