How we're helping customers through the energy crisis
Our team talks to 40,000 customers a day and we know that the current energy crisis is incredibly difficult for people. Alongside pushing for massive reform to get the UK out of the energy crisis and holding bills lower for all, we’ve also assembled a wide-ranging arsenal of support schemes to give extra help to our customers worst hit by rising bills.
From our £15 million Octopus Assist fund that's helped nearly 50,000 customers to schemes like free our free energy-efficient electric throws for the most needy - if you'd like to know more about what support Octopus is providing, read on.
(For government support, check out our government support blog).
If you're a customer and you need help...
Visit our financial assistance page
We’re in an energy crisis right now because we’re wedded to the global fossil fuel market, tied to expensive, planet destroying, and economically unsustainable gas. Renewable energy is cheap. Gas is expensive. We MUST move to renewables.
We’re working relentlessly within our industry, and with the government, to end reliance on gas through rapid investment in British renewable power. But while we’re still tied to this archaic system, we have to face the problem at hand.
People are struggling right now, and we’re doing everything we can to help.
Octopus Energy has never made a profit, and certainly won’t this year
We’re the only major energy company offering a variable tariff below the energy price cap: it’s currently £50 under for our loyal customers.
We can afford to do that because we run a lean, efficient business. Our operating costs are much lower than most legacy suppliers: and we’ve also absorbed a £100 million hit to keep prices down as much as possible over Winter. We’ll absorb a further £50 million doing the same over the next six months.
Extra help for vulnerable and low-income families
- Octo Assist, is our assistance fund, giving direct support to customers struggling the most with higher bills in the crisis. We created a £2.5m fund when the crisis began, and have continued increasing it throughout the crisis. The fund has already helped tens of thousands of customers with specialised support, and since the October price cap rise was announced, we've doubled it again from £7.5m to £15m.
Any customer who needs help can fill in our Financial Assistance form and answer a few simple questions about their situation. We can then offer a number of support options based on circumstances and need – including access to existing schemes, monetary credits from the fund, or personalised account support (e.g. return of credit, payment holidays). As well as pointing to government support and other organisations that can help.
- We’ve lent infrared cameras to thousands of customers to find leaks and draughts around their home to avoid wasting energy (though we're bringing the scheme to a close as the weather gets warmer).
- We've given thousands of energy efficient electric blankets to customers who need them most. Based on the current price cap rate (Apr'22) heating a whole home costs around £4.70 a day using a gas boiler while an energy-efficient electric blanket can heat a person for just 2.7p an hour, making these a vastly more cost-effective way to stay warm: particularly for people with mobility issues, for example, and spend a lot of time in one spot. (We would recommend to help prevent damp that can cause mould, that a home is always heated to at least 15 degrees.)
- Then there's our Winter Workout energy saving challenge, which helped 150,000 customers save £4.8m in just 12 weeks. One overwhelmingly popular way to save gas without feeling a difference in warmth, put to use by 93% of customers in our Winter Workout challenge, was to turn down your boiler’s flow temperature. Read guidance on how to do this safely from The Heating Hub, and find more simple, proven ways to save gas on our Winter Workout tips blog.
- At-home energy consultations for vulnerable customers: Our dedicated team of brand ambassadors are visiting vulnerable customers to help identify support and action that can help reduce bills; spot affordable, simple ways to improve home efficiency; and signpost customers struggling to pay to the schemes on this page (with a particular focus on customers with a medical dependency on power and/or heat).
- We've made our team even more available to customers during this busy, worrying time, with 'Round the sun' service. We've always had a thriving out-of-hours digital support team across the UK since our business began. In the past year, as we've opened offices around the world – particularly in New Zealand and Australia – meaning we've got a strong, dedicated overnight support to help customers round the clock, with particular focus on emergency cases.
Our super generous customers have also been rallying to raise more money for those struggling in the energy crisis, so we’ve created some opportunities for them to help.
- Customers who successfully saved at least 5% of their gas bill in our Winter Workout programme each got a share of the final prize pot. We gave them the option to donate their winnings to support fellow customers in need, and a heartwarming 18,000 customers obliged. We matched their donations – leading to a massive £263,000 extra being added to our Octo Assist fund thanks to the generosity of our customers.
- We launched A Little Change: a feature where customers can add a regular donation to their monthly bill to be split between fantastic charities. Collectively so far we donated more than £40,000 to National Energy Action, Papyrus (a youth mental health charity) and Renewable World (tackling energy poverty globally) – now we're refining the project even more to specifically focus on charities helping UK households in fuel poverty: National Energy Action, and Citizens Advice.
- We're currently partnering with Mencap who can offer information and advice on the cost of living for people with a learning disability: https://www.mencap.org.uk/help-with-food-energy-and-money
- The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme is a government energy efficiency programme to reduce carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty. Energy suppliers take part in the scheme to improve the ability of low income, fuel poor and vulnerable households to heat their homes. You need to fulfil certain criteria to be eligible for the scheme (for example being in receipt of income support). Head here for our dedicated ECO page.
More about our free electric blankets
As a few papers have recently reported, we’ve bought 5,000 energy-efficient electric blankets and are offering them free to the most needy and vulnerable households.
Why have we been giving out free electric blankets?
One of our boffins realised that some customers were paying to heat their entire homes, even if they lived alone. He did some calculations and found out that where heating a whole home costs around £2 a day, an energy-efficient electric blanket can heat a person for just 4p an hour. This means an electric blanket is a vastly more cost-effective way to stay warm: particularly for people with mobility issues, for example, and spend a lot of time in one spot.
Modern electric blankets, used according to their instructions, are safe and energy efficient. A few months ago, we used our purchasing power to buy 5,000, and we’ve been offering them for free to customers we’ve identified would benefit most when they filled in our financial assistance tool. We’ve been really trying to target people who need a blanket most: so we haven’t offered one to every customer, and we've trie to keep it to one per home so that we can support as many people as possible.
The electric blanket scheme is now paused for this year, but will be resuming again in the lead up to Winter 2022.
How can I access Octopus Energy's support for struggling customers?
We'll use this info to point you to all the help available that'll best suit your needs – our own schemes, as well as government ones and other organisations that can help.
And please, please get in touch with our team if you have any questions or need support. We're here to help.
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