With energy prices sent to rocket at the end of this month, MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis has some important advice for homeowners.
From April 1, Ofgem’s price cap will rise from £ 1,277 to £ 1,971, putting massive pressure on many households.
Prepayment customers will be worse hit, with a jump of £ 708 from £ 1,309 to £ 2,017, reports the Mirror.
The energy price cap sets a limit on the rates a supplier can charge for each unit of gas and electricity you use and is currently reviewed twice a year.
Martin Lewis has issued a new video with three things you can do now to help.
Check if you can stockpile energy before April price rise
He says: “Your rates should not change until the first time you top up following a price adjustment.
“If you have a smart prepayment meter, this stockpile trick sadly will not work as these meters are updated remotely with the new rates on the day of a price change.
“That means if you max out your top-up in March before the rate goes up, that’s what you’ll get, even if you then use that energy in April.”
Adding: “So you can extend the cheap rate we have now for longer by maxing your top-up if you can afford it – and I know not everybody on prepay can.”
MSE contacted 11 of the biggest energy suppliers – including British Gas, SSE, E.on and EDF – and only one said the stockpiling trick would not work.
Scottish Power was the only provider that said the additional amount you would’ve paid under the new rates would be recovered by adding a small amount of debt to your meter at your next annual statement.
MSE has asked Ofgem if Scottish Power is allowed to do this but has not issued a further update.
Take a meter reading now if you pay by direct debit
He said that, “sadly” there is no equivalent way to “stockpile” energy now if you pay by direct debit.
But saying this, he says it is important to take regular meter readings so that you can check you’re being billed correctly.
Martin recommended taking one reading today and then another on March 31, before the new price cap comes into force.
“I would suggest you do a meter reading today and diarise to do a meter reading on March 31, so you draw a line and tell the energy company all this energy I’ve used should be at the cheap rate,” he said.
Watch out for the £ 150 council tax rebate
Martin has also urged families to check how they can claim a £ 150 council tax rebate from April.
The Welsh Government has confirmed it will offer people in Wales an extra £ 150 to help with the cost of living crisis. More details are here.
All people who live in properties in council tax bands A to D in Wales, as well as recipients of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme in all bands will get the payment, it has been confirmed.
The council tax rebate will apply to homes in council tax bands A, B, C or D in England and Wales – roughly 80% of properties – but not those who live in council tax bands E, F, G and H.
Scotland residents will also be entitled to £ 150 off if they are in bands A to D – but they’ll also qualify if they’re currently getting a council tax reduction as well.
Those who live in England have been told they’ll receive the rebate automatically if they pay for their council tax by direct debit.
If you do not pay by direct debit, you’ll be instructed on how to apply from your council.
“Keep an eye out for a letter from the council because each council will tell you its claim system and you need to watch for that,” said Martin.
“If you’re not eligible for the £ 150, say, because you’re in a higher band, then there is a discretionary £ 140 million fund being set-up to help those who are struggling.
“It will be up to each council to decide how it distributes it, but be ready to claim that.”
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