MARTIN Lewis has urged people to save money by switching energy providers before prices go up.
The wholesale cost of energy has hit its highest in three years, prompting Mr Lewis to brand it an energy price "crisis".
These rates are what energy companies pay, and when they go up the costs are often passed on to customers pushing up energy bills.
Mr Lewis said in his latest Money Saving Expert newsletter: "A fortnight ago we told you wholesale rates – those energy firms pay – were at a three-year high.
"They dipped a smidgeon after that, but they've risen again. Everyone should check if you can save now."
Switching energy companies to get a cheaper tariff can save Brits £100s of pounds a year.
It comes a week after Bulb warned customers that energy prices would rise for a second time this year.
How to save on your energy bills
SWITCHING energy providers can sound like a hassle – but fortunately it’s pretty straight forward to change supplier – and save lots of cash.
Shop around – If you're on an SVT deal you are likely throwing away around £300 a year. Use a comparion site such as MoneySuperMarket.com, uSwitch or EnergyHelpline.com to see what deals are available to you.
The cheapest deals are usually found online and are fixed deals – meaning you'll pay a fixed amount usually for 12 months.
Switch – When you've found one, all you have to do is contact the new supplier.
It helps to have the following information – which you can find on your bill – to hand to give the new supplier.
- Your postcode
- Name of your existing supplier
- Name of your existing deal and how much you pay
- An up-to-date meter reading
It will then notify your current supplier and begin the switch.
It should take no longer than three weeks to complete the switch and your supply won't be interrupted in that time.
Mr Lewis said the rise would mean that Bulb customers – except for those with prepayment metres – will be paying almost as much as the energy price cap.
The cap is currently set at £1,138 by the energy regulator Ofgem.
Energy companies can't charge more than this each year for "typical" bills based on standard default tariffs for gas and electric.
The price cap is set twice a year in April and October and is based on the previous six months, so a rise in wholesale energy prices now can push it up in future.
The price cap last went up by £96 in April hitting 15 million customers.
Mr Lewis said the latest spike in prices happening now could push up this price cap by between £50 and £100 in October.
He said: "All this means, while we're heading to summer, for safety, check now if you risk overpaying."
But, he warned switchers who are on a standard tariff with big energy firms that the prices they are looking to switch to won't include the potential rise in October.
What to do if you can’t pay your bills
FALLING behind on your energy bills can be extremely stressful.
If you’re struggling to pay what you owe, contact your supplier as soon as possible.
Your provider has to help you come up with a solution, and you should be able to negotiate a deal that works for you both.
One option is to agree a payment plan where you pay off your debts in affordable instalments.
You may be able to pay off your debts directly from your benefits through the Fuel Direct Scheme.
A fixed amount will automatically be taken to cover what you owe plus your usage.
To be eligible, you must be getting one of the following benefits:
- Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
- Income support
- income-related employment and support allowance
- Pension credit
- Universal Credit (but only if you’re not working)
If you cannot come to an agreement with your supplier, they may try to force you to get a prepayment meter installed.
In very rare cases, where you refuse to negotiate, your supplier might threaten you with disconnection.
If energy prices fall between now and then, customers can switch again to take advantage of any fall in price Mr Lewis added, because there are no exit penalties for many of the tops deals
But anyone already on a cheap fixed tariff should stick with it in most cases, he said – unless it's very close to the end.
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