Help when you're struggling to pay

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We know many people are facing incredibly tough circumstances in the Cost of Living crisis.

This page explains everything you can do to get control of your bills, and all the ways Octopus - and other organisations - can help.

What you can do Review & change your payment amount and method, try energy saving tips, get a smart meter and discounted insulation
How we can help Our £30m Octo Assist fund has targeted support to customers in need, from standing charge holidays to electric blankets.
External support From government schemes to Citizens Advice, we've outlined organisations who can provide help beyond energy bills.

Try our checklist to get control of your bills

1) Set your monthly payment using our Balance Forecast tool 🔮

The Balance Forecast tool helps you choose the right amount.

It uses your energy prices and past meter readings to shows you how much you should pay monthly to cover your energy costs. You can test out different Direct Debit amounts to see how the change would impact your balance over 12 months.

If you try to set your payment to a level that could lead you to build up debt, we'll let you know. You'll need to get in touch with us, so we can check there's not any other support you're eligible for.

2) Think about which tariff - and payment method - suits you best 💳

a) Set up a monthly Direct Debit online to save around £80 per year.

A steady monthly Direct Debit is our most popular way to pay, because it allows you to spread your payments evenly across the 12 months, rather than paying less in summer and much more over the winter.

Because this method costs us less in admin, your unit price is less, saving the average home on our variable tariff around £80 a year.

b) try another payment method

Pay by variable Direct Debit, where you pay for exactly what you use every month.

Or, switch to Smart Pay-as-you-go, where you top up your meters as and when you need to. If you already have a smart meter, we should be able to switch you to smart prepay fairly quickly.

To find out more about these payment methods, please get in touch.

c) check your tariff

If you're worried about future changes to energy prices, you may want to consider switching from a flexible to a fixed tariff. Our Loyal Octopus tariff fixes your price for a year at the best rates we're able to offer at the time.

However, you're probably still best saying on our Flexible tariff right now: we're the only large supplier who can say that our Flexible Octopus tariff, has always been priced below Ofgem's energy price cap. Octopus standing charges are also the cheapest of any large supplier, and we haven't raised them in October (against Ofgem's guidance).

You can view and change tariffs through your app and online account.

3) Get a Smart meter (and unlock ⭐Octoplus⭐)

Smart meters save you money by giving you better control of your bills and consumption. But that's not all...

With a smart meter, you unlock Octoplus, our new rewards programme featuring Free electricity at certain times, Saving Sessions, the energy saving scheme where we literally pay you to use less energy, and access to other great benefits. Find out more.

4) Save up to £400 a year with small changes 🤏

  • If you do one thing, check your boiler's flow temperature. Reducing your boiler flow temperature is really easy to do (just a case of turning down a setting on the boiler) and could see you save significantly without sacrificing your comfort. Learn how to do this here.
  • Mind the gap. Make sure your heat isn’t escaping through gaps in your doors, windows or loft space.
  • Tweak your thermostat. Make sure it’s only on when you need it, and that it’s set to the perfect temperature. In fact, turning the temperature down by just 1 degree could save you up to £128.
  • Invest in insulation. Insulating your loft, walls and even your hot water cylinder could help you save £££s of pounds every year.
  • Keep an eye on the light. Invest in some LED lighting which uses 70-80% less electricity and save £20 per year, per bulb.

5) Get insulation for free or at a discounted rate 🏡

Help your house use energy and heat more efficiently with free or significantly discounted insulation through a government-funded scheme.

Apply here for The Great British Insulation Scheme and here for the ECO 4 scheme.

How we can help

1) Financial support from Octopus Assist 🐙

In the energy crisis, we set up Octopus Assist: a £15m fund which we increased to £30m over the winter to support even more customers struggling with bills.

Our support is designed to target those in the greatest need. The families who struggled to afford the bills even before the energy crisis, and those whose health and safety relies on heat and power.

If you'd like to apply, we'll ask you to fill out some information about your incomings and outgoings so we can better understand your situation.

Then, we'll offer you advice and support that's most appropriate for your circumstances from a number of wide-ranging schemes like standing charge holidays, personalised account help, and direct bill support.

You can also loan a thermal camera for free to find draughts around your home. Plug one of our infrared cameras into your smartphone to see where heat is escaping, and we'll share tips and ideas to help you fill those gaps to avoid wasting energy.

We’re also offering free electric blankets, which can save the average home £300 per year (they cost between 2 - 4p per hour to run). We’re giving them out free to those in greatest need – particularly the elderly, or those with medical or mobility issues.

2) Extra support from the Priority Services Register 📋

This is a free national service that help us prioritise customers in vulnerable situations for additional support.

3) Personalised account help 💬

We understand everyone's circumstances are different. Get in touch with a friendly Octopus specialist any time you need bespoke account help.

We're always here to talk, whether you need to defer a payment or set up a payment plan to gradually pay back debit on your account or further spread out the costs of your energy.

Whatever it is, we can work with you on a short or long-term plan that suits you best.

If you’re eligible, we can also arrange for payments to be taken directly from your benefits using the Fuel Direct Scheme.

Charity and government support

1) Government support

  • Warm Home Discount: Customers who receive certain means-tested benefits will receive a credit of £150 towards their energy bills before 31 March 2024.
  • Additional government support schemes, including:
    • Cost of Living payments: people receiving means-tested benefits will receive £900 over 4 payments, pensioners who get Winter Fuel Allowance will receive up to £300 and those with disabilities will receive £150 additional financial support from the government.
    • Cold Weather Payments: if you’re receiving certain benefits you may get a Cold Weather Payment of up to £25 every 7 days if the average temperature where you live is below freezing (zero-degrees c) or forecasted to be below freezing for 7 days
    • £250 - £600 Winter Fuel Payment: designed to support people born before 25th September 1957. The exact amount you'll receive for this depends on your age, and whether other people in your household also qualify.

You can find more of the government's advice at their Help for Households website.

2) Support from charity

  • We've partnered with the Money Charity to offer the Money Manual, a bite-sized guide designed to help you manage your money
  • Get free, independent, and confidential help from Citizens Advice by phone on 0808 223 1133 (England), or 0808 223 1144 (Wales)
  • Of you're in Scotland get free, independent, and confidential help from Energy Advice Scotland by phone on 0808 196 8660.
  • LEAP (Local Energy Advice Partnership) is a free energy and money-saving service for people working to help people keep warm and reduce their energy bills.
  • Turn2Us is a national charity providing help to people who are struggling financially. Contact them by phone on 0808 802 2000.
    • If you’re a carer for someone who has an illness or disability, Turn2Us has specific advice to help you make sure you’re receiving the right benefits, and to help you find available grants.

Frequently asked questions

What if I can't pay my energy bill, or keep getting into debt?


Please, please get in contact with us if you’re struggling with your bills. There are many ways we can help.

If you fall into debt for any reason, we can assist by:

  • Providing some breathing space — maybe in the form of a short term deferment of payment
  • Working directly with our team on a repayment plan that suits you
  • Adjusting your payment methods to find one that works best for you
  • Pointing you in the direction of experts who can help advise on your debt

What's changed since last winter?


There have been a few changes since last winter 2022:

  • Ofgem, the energy regulator, has announced a decrease to the energy price cap that came into effect for bill payers from October 1, 2023. The price cap is set at £1,834 for an average household, compared to £2,500 last winter.
  • Last year’s Energy Bills Support Scheme gave customers a total of £400 towards their energy bills. This scheme has not been extended to 2024, so your bills will likely feel the same as last year despite the falling price cap.

We're still working with the government and the wider energy industry, pushing for policies that give extra support to those who need it most. At the same time, we're looking after our own customers as best we can.

Why would a supplier with 100% green tariffs be impacted by fossil fuels prices?


Green electricity now costs less to generate than fossil fuel power. So shouldn't that mean green power costs less to buy on the market?

Because of the (very flawed) way the market is currently set up, sadly not, though as the grid gets greener, this should change.

The price power sells for is dictated by the going rate for all different types of energy. At the moment, the UK's outdated wholesale market has a single price for electricity every half hour (which energy suppliers need to pay) and its usually mainly determined by the cost of gas. All energy sources in the UK, from wind to solar to fossil fuels, are being sold based on the high price of gas imports – the higher price of 'brown' electrons artificially putting up the price of 'green' ones as well.

🏠 In short, It’s like selling a house; the price is set by what neighboring homes are sold for, not the actual cost of building the house.

Renewable energy will make electricity a bit cheaper this year – in fact, turbines are generating so much cheaper than the current wholesale price that they're due to pay suppliers back for the extra they've earned ( £39 million up til now, but it could be lots more in the year ahead.)

We need much more renewable generation in the system, and the market should be reformed. Our CEO, Greg, talks about it more here.

What is Octopus doing to help in the crisis?


Our biggest priority is making green energy affordable and accessible to all - especially, during an energy crisis. When prices were highest, we used £150 million from our own reserves to keep bills lower by swallowing more of the cost of power (our Flexible Octopus tariff was £50 below the price cap for loyal customers – the cheapest of any major supplier). We've consistently been the only large energy supplier to always charge below the price cap.

We have long been vocal about opposing standing charge increases, and have always kept them as low as possible, as well as offering a 4% discount on standing charges for certain tariffs. So far we have also offered 100,000 customers in need the ability to apply for a 6-months long standing charge holiday.

For customers struggling the most, we created Octopus Assist, a £15 million support fund which has now been increased to £30m to provide relief to those facing financial challenges. From offering free electric blankets to loaning out free thermal cameras to help customers find draughts around their home and supplying our infrared smart-phone cameras to see where heat is escaping, we have invested where it matters.

We've also invested in innovative programs like Octoplus Saving Sessions, where we provide customers with the ability to optimise their energy usage during specific times, ensuring they benefit from cheaper rates. Our Winter Workout and Power Ups schemes have also allowed our customers to save money and optimise their energy usage.

Why won't Octopus go bust?


While multiple energy suppliers have gone bust, we're not going anywhere. Our cutting edge operating model and world leading tech have allowed us to direct millions of pounds towards supporting customers during this crisis, and safely take on customers from other bankrupt suppliers.

If you want to know more, this dedicated blog can tell you exactly how Octopus is built to last.

Why can’t energy suppliers charge less?


More than 90% of the costs of your energy bill are out of the control of your energy supplier.

The vast majority of that 90% is defined by the price of the wholesale energy we have to buy from the global market, but that 90% also includes taxes, VAT, and payments to companies who maintain the UK’s energy distribution system (the pipes and wires that transport gas and electricity).

Why are standing charges increasing, not just unit rates?


Energy markets are highly regulated, so as an energy supplier we get charged certain costs for every single customer we have; even if they don't use any energy. These costs are passed on to customers via standing charges.

Costs have increased to cover expanding environmental and social schemes like Warm Home Discount - which will be available to more people this year, so costing more overall - and the ECO scheme. Plus, other things, like the administrative cost of taking over the customers of suppliers who've gone out of business, and some distribution costs moving from unit price to standing charge.

Recent regulatory changes - Ofgem's Targeted Charging Review - have increased those costs even more: which we opposed.

Our CEO Greg explains more here:

The electricity standing charge increase is driven by two changes to how much it costs us to supply your electricity. The first is the cost of failed suppliers (sadly its more than usual this year because half the retail market went bust in 2021). The industry has changed how customers are charged for using the distribution network – the cables that deliver electricity to your home. The costs of these networks have been moved from the unit charge to the standing charge.

Some of the increase in electricity standing charge is also due to the increase in the rollout of the Warm Home Discount which is set to be available to more people this year.

Gas standing charges have increased slightly, but not as much as electricity. This is because although the cost to cover failed suppliers is split nearly equally between the fuels, for gas this cost is added to the unit charge rather than the standing charge. The increase in gas standing charge is primarily due to extra Warm Home Discount costs.

Ofgem have broken down the up to date split of costs that make up a typical energy bill here

Why do standing charges vary based on where you live? It costs different amounts to get power to homes in different parts of the country. Each of the electricity distribution networks (DNOs) face different costs to maintain, upgrade and operate their networks. These costs are shared among their own customers, i.e people who live in the region where they operate.

Published on 27th October 2023 by:

image of Lil Murdoch

Lil Murdoch

Warm Home Discount Operations Manager

Hey I'm Constantine, welcome to Octopus Energy!