What to do if you're worried about your bills, step by step
We talk to 30,000 customers every day, so we know many people are worried about the cost of energy.
If you’re one of those people, here's what you can do next.
1) Set a payment amount you’re comfortable with
It’s your money, and you know your home and energy use best – so you’re always in control. Our job is to keep you informed about your account so you can make these decisions.
We work out what you should be paying to keep your account healthy over 12 months based on your historical energy use. If your payment's set too low to cover your energy costs, you could start to build up debt over time, so we always email you to suggest changes when we think they'll prevent that.
If you want to change your payment amount, you can do that easily on your online account or by contacting us. (If you try to set your payment to a level that could lead you to build debt, we just ask that you speak to us first).
Check your Balance Forecast
To help you prepare for what's ahead, and work out exactly how much you're comfortable paying, we've created the Balance Forecast. It's a tool to show you your future energy balance over 12 months based on different monthly Direct Debits.
2) Think about which tariff, and payment method, suits you best
Generally speaking, there are two different types of tariffs; Fixed and Flexible. On a fixed tariff, your unit rates and standing charge will stay the same for the entire contract which is a good way to avoid rising prices for up to two years. When your contract ends, and you don’t choose a new Fixed one you will automatically be switched to our Flexible tariff.
On a Flexible tariff, the price you pay for your energy will rise and fall with wholesale energy prices. We'll always give reasonable notice of any changes to pricing, and it's also worth remembering that rates on Flexible tariffs (but not fixed tariffs) are protected by the price cap. Energy is really volatile right now and your choice is between a more expensive, but steady, Fixed tariff, and the less predictable, but cheaper, Flexible tariff – ultimately, you have to pick the option that suits you best.
Want to know what tariff type is best for you? We’ve written lots more to help you choose between a Fixed or Flexible tariff in the energy crisis.
We think a steady monthly Direct Debit is typically the best option as it allows you to spread your payments across the 12 months, rather than paying less in Summer and much more over the Winter. But there are other ways to pay your bills – including paying on receipt of your bills, or a 'variable Direct Debit' plan where you pay for exact what you use every month. Find out more here, and if you have any questions just speak to our team.
3) Find quick, simple ways to use less energy at home
Our experts have put together a list of simple energy saving tips that could help you save up to £400 on your bills. Here are a few of the most effective – but there are loads more.
- 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 hundreds 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.
For lots of free and impartial advice on how to save money on your energy bills, visit the Energy Saving Trust.
Get a smart meter to unlock more savings
4) Find support from the Government and Octopus
On the 8th September, the government announced a significant support package to help with energy costs this Winter. This freezes the annual bill for a typical household at £2,500.
It will save the average household about £1,000 per year compared to what they would've spent on a tariff at the maximum October price cap (£3,549).
You don't need to do anything to access the Energy Price Guarantee: it'll be factored into your energy tariff, so you'll get the savings automatically.
We'll email you with more details about what this means for you. There's also lots of information about this on the government's Energy Bills Support Fact Sheet, and for regular updates, check our blog.
Every household will also receive £400 in Energy Bill support over the upcoming winter months. It'll be split over 6 months and credited directly to your energy account to offer some support during the toughest months of the year. Some households will be entitled to even more through targeted Cost of Living support.
Read about all the support available from the Government here, from one-off help to address the Cost of Living Crisis to yearly support schemes like the Warm Home Discount, and things like the ECO scheme: a government energy efficiency programme intended to reduce carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty. Please email us at email@example.com to get more information and find out whether you're eligible.
If you’re looking for further advice or support, do contact Citizens Advice via their free web chat on their website or 0808 223 1133 (Wales: 03444 77 20 20).
Support from Octopus
We're not profiting from this crisis. Instead, we’re doing everything we can to help customers. 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.
To apply for financial help and get a proper look at the different support schemes available, head to our dedicated support blog. We'll ask you to fill out some information about your incomings and outgoings so we can better understand your situation and point you towards the right type of support.
Here are some of the specific support schemes we may be able to help with:
- Home Energy Visits to help you better understand your usage
- Thermal Cameras to monitor your usage
- Blankets- Blankets over Winter which could save you £400 per year
You can always contact us about joining our Priority Services Register – a free support service to help people in vulnerable situations.
Need more time to pay?
Get in touch with us if you would like to defer a payment or set up a payment plan to spread out the costs of your energy. We are always here to help, and 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. Read about how our team can help if you're struggling to pay here.
The most important thing to know is that we’re here for you.
We are doing everything in our power to keep energy prices as low as possible, including working with industry bodies and the Government on short and long term solutions to reduce the price of energy. We’re not making a profit – in fact, so far we have absorbed over £150 million to keep costs lower for our customers. We've set up a £7 million dedicated fund purely to support customers who need it most, and created huge energy efficiency challenges like the Winter Workout to help customers collectively save millions while staying cosy and comfortable at home.
Our team – kind people going through the same difficult circumstances as everyone else – are working really hard, day in and day out, to give you understanding, individual help whenever you need it. And our efforts don’t stop there; we're trying to build the UK's independent green energy future to make sure a crisis like this never happens again.
Until this new, green, sustainable world is our reality, please talk to us whenever you need us. We’re here to help.
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