HOUSEHOLDS should urgently take meter readings before bills rise in October.
The simple check could help save you money on your energy bills.
Millions will see their bills climb from £1,971 to £2,500 a year in October on average.
Liz Truss froze energy bills for two years in a bumper cost of living support package first announced on September 8.
The new Energy Price Guarantee means a typical family will not pay more than £2,500 a year on bills.
However the cap only limits the amount firms can charge customers for each unit of energy.
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So if you use more energy than the average household – expect to pay more.
This is why it is vital that you get ready to tell your energy firm your gas and electricity meter readings before October.
This will reduce your risk of being overcharged when the new cap comes into force.
Around 22million households are on the standard variable tariff that is subject to the new Energy Price Guarantee which comes into force on October 1.
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Customers on these tariffs will need to get their latest meter readings in by September 30.
This advice only applies to customers on standard meters.
Customers with a smart meter don't need to note down their energy usage as their meter readings are automatically sent to their supplier at regular intervals.
More than half of households pay energy bills using direct debit, according to the energy regulator Ofgem.
The amount you pay for energy via direct debit is "smoothed" out over the year.
It means you pay the same amount each month, even when your energy usage changes – you generally use more gas and electric in winter and less in summer.
An accurate meter reading means you're more likely to get billed for what you are actually using rather than estimated amounts.
How do I take a meter reading?
Your energy supplier will usually require regular readings from your gas and electricity meter to work out how much you should be charged.
Customers that don't send their suppliers will have their bills calculated by estimated usage and they will likely pay more – so it is always worth knowing how to send the numbers.
If you have a digital electricity of gas meter, you will just see a row of six numbers – five in black and one in red.
Take down all the five numbers in black and ignore the red number.
If you are on an Economy 7 or 10 tariff which gives you cheaper electricity at night – you may two rows of number, so take both readings down.
If you have a traditional dial meter you will need to read the first five dials from left to right ignoring any red ones.
If the pointer is between two numbers, write down the lower figures and if it is between nine and zero write down the number nine.
If the dial is directly over a number, write down that number and underline it.
Citizens Advice says that if you’ve underlined a number, check the next dial to the right. If the pointer on that dial is between 9 and 0, reduce the number you’ve underlined by 1. For example, if you originally wrote down 5, change it to 4.
If you have a digital metric meter showing five numbers then a decimal place, you only need to write down the first five number from left to right.
If you have a digital imperial meter your meter will read four black numbers and two red numbers – note down the four black numbers only.
If you have a dial gas meter follow the same steps for those with a dial electricity meter but ignore underlining any figures.
What other energy bill help is coming?
From October the first, all households will start to receive a £400 energy bill discount.
The payment will be dished out by your energy supplier and will be split across six discounts between October and March next year.
Households will receive a £66 energy bill discount in October and November and a discount worth £67 in December, January, February and March.
In November, a £300 one-off "Pensioner Cost of Living Payment" will be paid out to eight million households.
It will be given to those who already get the winter fuel payment – which is worth between £100 and £300 for those over state pension age.
Millions of households are in line to get the £150 Warm Home Discount between December and March 2023.
Check if you can get an energy grant
There are plenty of energy grants and schemes open to help you out if you're struggling.
British Gas has recently confirmed that it'll pay its most vulnerable customers grants worth £750 to help with sky-high bills.
The British Gas Energy Trust has previously paid struggling households up to £1,500 – and you don't need to be a British Gas customer to apply for this help.
Ask your supplier what's on offer and how to apply, or check here:
- Bulb energy fund
- EDF's energy customer support fund
- E.on's energy fund
- Octopus Energy Octo Assist fund
- Ovo's debt and energy assistance
- Scottish Power's hardship fund
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You can get free debt advice
If you're in debt there are plenty of services you can take advantage of and they offer free advice on how to manage debt.
Most of them can offer you free guidance and help in person, over the telephone or online.
- Money Helper – 0800 138 7777
- Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060
- StepChange – 0800 138 1111
- National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
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