Households are set to find out how much their energy bills will rise again from the start of the new year as hopes for relief from the cost of living crisis are put on hold. Ofgem will announce its latest price cap on Thursday, November 23, with energy consultancy Cornwall Insight predicting it will increase from the current £1,834 for a typical dual fuel household to £1,931(5% increase) from January to March.
The forecasts suggest the typical bill will then fall to £1,853 from the start of April, but will not drop below today’s level until July next year. Cornwall Insight said recent milder weather was helping to bring down gas prices, and this could help reduce bills next year if it continued, but warned “sharp price falls are not expected”.
Dr Craig Lowrey, principal consultant at Cornwall Insight, said: “An unstable wholesale energy market, coupled with the UK’s reliance on energy imports, makes it inevitable that energy bills will rise from current levels.”
Dr Lowrey continued: “This leaves households facing yet another winter with bills hundreds of pounds higher than pre-pandemic levels, and affordable fixed deals few and far between. The King’s Speech acknowledged it is our exposure to volatile international energy markets that has led to higher and less predictable bills.
“While we continue to advocate for immediate targeted support for vulnerable consumers, it is evident that the only enduring solution lies in transitioning the UK away from the influence of global energy prices towards sustainable, domestically sourced energy.”
Hazel Knowles, energy lead for Advice Direct Scotland, said: “We have already witnessed high demand from households across Scotland seeking assistance with their energy bills. Costs are significantly higher than they were before the energy crisis began, and this latest warning ahead of this week’s announcement means that many Scots face a challenging winter ahead.
“We urge people across Scotland not to struggle alone – our expert advisers can provide free advice on the support available. Energy affordability also needs a long-term solution, and we support calls for a social tariff to protect people from spending excessive amounts on their bills.”
Six steps to reduce usage and cut energy bills by over £200
New guidance on GOV.UK explains how heating and hot water account for over half of the average household’s energy bills, so it’s important to know what you can do to prepare your heating system for the colder winter months and save money on your energy bills.
It states: “There are many low and no cost actions you can take to save energy and money over the winter period.”
The winter 2023/24 guidance goes on to list several simple steps households can take to save money during the colder months.
Reduce your boiler flow temperature to save up to £60 a year
If you have a Combi boiler, its efficiency can be improved by adjusting the ‘flow temperature’ dial/setting to 60 degrees. Reducing flow temperature isn’t the same as turning down the thermostat as it won’t noticeably reduce the temperature of your home but may take longer to heat up.
If you are over 65, or have pre-existing health conditions, you may want to set a slightly higher flow temperature of 65 degrees to ensure your home warms more quickly.
Nesta have more information on lowering your combi boiler flow temperature setting – take their Money Saving Boiler Challenge here.
Reduce your hot water tank temperature to 60C to save up to £20 per year
If you have a heating system with a separate hot water cylinder (instead of a combi boiler), you can turn down the temperature of the cylinder itself so water is not heated unnecessarily.
You will usually find the control for your hot water cylinder one third of the way up the tank. The temperature should not be reduced below 60 degrees, as legionella bacteria that can cause Legionnaires’ disease can survive and grow in warm water stored below 60 degrees.
Install a smart meter to help you see what you’re spending
A smart meter provides you with near real-time information about how much energy you are using via an in-home display, which you can use to track your spending and have greater control over your usage. Smart meters provide automatic readings to your energy supplier, meaning an end to estimated bills and enabling easier budgeting.
Contact your energy supplier, who can arrange to install a smart meter free of charge.
Find and fix draughts to save up to £50 a year
Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and most effective actions you can take to stop or prevent heat escaping and reduce your energy bills. Block unwanted gaps around windows, doors, chimneys and floors that let the cold air in and warm air out.
Window film is a form of temporary secondary glazing which helps stop heat escaping through glass. You can buy it at hardware shops and online and install it yourself or with the help of a professional.
Install smart thermostats and heating controls to save up to £50 a year
Smart thermostats and heating controls offer greater flexibility and control over your energy use. Smart controls do everything that conventional heating controls do but are connected to the internet and offer more functionality such as allowing you to adjust your temperature settings when you’re not at home via a smartphone.
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Insulate your hot water cylinder to save up to £50 a year
If you have a hot water tank, you can invest in a hot water cylinder jacket, available in most hardware shops and online. It reduces the amount of heat the cylinder loses and keeps water hot for longer, making them more efficient and cheaper to use.
The pipes that run to and from the tank can also be insulated, using foam tubes. These can also prevent your pipes freezing in extreme temperatures.
You can find more help and advice on saving money on energy bills on GOV.UK here.
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