Take meter readings this Thursday before energy cap rise

Households should take an energy meter reading on Thursday 31 March 2022 before the upcoming price cap bites, a comparison website has urged.

GoCompare has called on people to make gas and electricity reading on that day to ensure they are not charged higher rates for energy used before 1 April, when the cap on duel-fuel tariffs goes up by nearly £700 on average.

This is a record increase and means a typical bill payer using a direct debit could pay £1,971 for their gas and electricity, while homes on a pre-payment meter will have to fork out an average of £2,017.

The surge in prices has already forced GoCompare to halt its energy price comparison service – along with the other switching giants – as there were too few tariffs available on the market.

It has also caused more than 30 energy suppliers to go bust since the start of 2021, such as Bulb Energy, whose collapse affected around 1.7million customers, Utility Point, Green Supplier Limited, and Avro Energy.

Gareth Kloet, GoCompare’s energy spokesman, said: ‘The cost-of-living crisis is hitting everyone – so if there’s a way to shave money off your bills this April, we would urge all bill payers to take both gas and electricity meter readings on 31 March and make sure you submit these to your supplier.

‘And if you pay by direct debit, it might also be a good time to look at revising your monthly payments to take into account the higher rates.’

To cut bills, the website has written a 10 point guide to saving energy including turning down the thermostat, washing clothes at lower temperatures, installing new boilers and double glazing.

The incoming price hike was announced by regulatory body Ofgem in February following a huge jump in gas prices last year as the global economy recovered from the pandemic.

A resurgence in usage has been accompanied by a jump in demand from Asian countries, a period of low winds last summer, and a cold European winter before then, which caused massive pressure on storage levels.

The UK’s energy market has been further affected by a fire that caused the shut down of a power cable linking electricity supplies between Britain and France last September that increased the UK’s reliance on gas supplies.

Prices have continued to rise since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine a month ago led to sanctions on companies like Gazprom and declarations by various European governments to reduce their dependence on energy from Russia.

Hundreds of thousands of families risk falling into poverty because of the surging cost of gas and electricity, which comes amidst the UK inflation rate hitting its highest level in three decades.

Following Ofgem’s announcement in February, Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed a £9billion package of measures that includes a £200 upfront discount on bills in October that must be paid back in instalments of £40 over five years.

On top of that, English council taxpayers in bands A to D will get a rebate of £150 next month, local authorities will get £150million in central government funding to distribute to the neediest people, and the Warm Homes Discount is being extended to 3 million properties.

Sunak also declared in his Spring Statement that the 5 per cent VAT rate on energy efficiency products such as insulation and solar panels would be scrapped.

Yet these measures have received extensive criticism from opposition parties and anti-poverty campaigners for doing too little to help those financially struggling.

Many politicians, such as Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves and Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey, have suggested imposing a windfall tax on oil and gas giants, with revenues going towards a rebate on gas and electricity bills.

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