A cap on prepayment meter charges is promised for next April – but what can you do to cut your costs now?
Today OFGEM, the energy regulator, announced its response to a two-year investigation into how gas and electricity companies sell energy.
The big news for people who are on a prepayment meter is from April 2017 there will be a cap on how much companies can charge you. OFGEM estimates it'll save these households around £75 a year.
Other proposals are to be consulted on, but it's expected from 2017 we'll see more tariffs on offer to encourage suppliers to lower prices and offer exclusive deals to customers, comparison sites and other groups. This also means comparison sites won't have to show every deal available.
It's also likely you'll be contacted more often, possibly by letter, by other energy companies if you're on one of the more expensive "Standard Variable Tariffs" to prompt you to switch. This is likely to begin in 2018, though testing will begin earlier.
What can you do now to cut your energy bills?
Just because you haven't got the heating on, it doesn't mean you shouldn't make sure you're on the best energy deal possible. Here are a couple of ways to save:
Paying quarterly or by Direct Debit? Switch your supplier
OFGEM estimates anyone who isn't on a fixed energy rate could save £300 by moving to one. That's a big chunk of cash you could put towards savings, a holiday or even Christmas.
Use a prepayment meter? See if you can switch to a standard meter
Prepayment meters are generally more expensive – but many people using one probably think they don't have a choice.
If you've moved into a property with one and are paying the bill directly to the supplier, your landlord shouldn't be able to stop you asking the energy company to change it – however there could be a cost and you will be credit checked.
Some people are moved to a prepayment meter as they owe money on the bills. If that's you, and you're struggling generally with debts, it's worth seeking some free, independent advice.
If you can't change your meter, or prefer using one to help keep on budget, you can still change your supplier, so it's worth looking to see if there are lower prices elsewhere.
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.