How you can save hundreds of pounds on energy bills as prices set to soar - Martin Lewis explains

By Sophie Barley

As households are set to see energy bills rise, Martin Lewis is urging people to act now to lower them.

An estimated 15 million households will be affected by the rise as the energy regulator Ofgem confirmed its price cap is going up from October.

The price cap is the maximum amount energy suppliers are allowed to charge customers.

British Gas, E.on, SSE and Scottish Power are some of the providers that have confirmed they will be upping prices from this winter.

Those on default tariffs paying by direct debit will see an increase of £139 from £1,138 to £1,277 from October 1.

And repayment customers will see an increase of £153 from £1,156 to £1,309.

Martin Lewis has spoken out about his concerns in his MoneySavingExpert newsletter.

He said: “This autumn's signature noise will be a deep thud... the sound of jaws hitting the floor, as people finally see the practical evidence of the energy bill catastrophe laid bare.

“The team and I have long warned you this will be coming, and now, sadly, we're there, it's happening.”

In the newsletter he shared some of his top tips:

Read More: YouTube, Google Maps and Gmail to be taken off millions of phones from September 27

Make sure you check and compare prices

If you don’t have time to go into too much detail when it comes to your energy bills, Martin says this is the very minimum you should do to check you’re not overpaying.

You can compare energy deals on comparison sites such as Uswitch.com and Moneysupermarket.com.

But a word of warning - the MSE team says this isn’t about lowering prices as such, but more about minimising the planned increases.

This is because most cheap deals have disappeared, with wholesale electricity prices currently at their highest rates since 1990. Gas prices are at 15-year high too.

Martin said: “Don't expect to pay less than you have been... this is about minimising the explosive rises most will face.”

Ofgem sets the price cap twice a year and experts say energy prices could rise again in six months time.

With this in mind, Martin says it may not be a bad idea to lock into a cheap, one-year fixed rate energy tariff now.

He said: “It's worth doing even if the saving is only a few quid, as the likelihood is over the next year the price cap will rise, so your real savings will be bigger.”

MSE says the cheapest one-year fixed deal is Sainsbury’s Energy (£1,177 per year) while the cheapest two-year comes from Ovo Energy (£1,220 per year).

Fixed deals mean you pay a set amount per kilowatt hour - the unit used to measure energy.

As the price that is fixed is on the unit, your bills will still go up if you start using more power.

If prices do unexpectedly drop, you can leave the fix but you’d need to pay an early-exit penalty.

You could be eligible for a Warm Home Discount

The Warm House Discount scheme is definitely worth looking into - you may be entitled to £140 toward your energy bills.

The money from the Warm Home Discount scheme is normally paid directly to your energy supplier, who will then apply the discount to your energy bills.

The credit is applied between October and March, so Martin says it is worth checking if you can apply now.

If you have a pre-payment meter, you'll be sent a £140 voucher that can be used to top up your meter.

Get help with your bills if you need it - talk to supplier

If you are struggling to pay your energy bills because of the increases, talk to your supplier as soon as possible.

The help they may be able to offer you includes payment plans, payment breaks or reductions.

This is all done case-by-case, so you'll need to contact your supplier and explain why you need help with your bills.

Martin said coronavirus measures to protect energy suppliers are still ongoing.

"Your supply won't be cut off," he explained.

"Standard credit meter disconnections have been suspended, while prepayment customers can get emergency credit to ensure the lights stay on."

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