Millions of energy customers across the country are bracing themselves for higher gas and electricity bills since April 1, which will put even more financial pressure on household budgets.
Ahead of the 54 per cent Ofgem price hike kicking in, Martin Lewis has been urging everyone to do three things before Friday – not to cancel your monthly Direct Debits as this will add a further six per cent on to your bill, stick to your current fix (if it’s the best option available) and take meter readings today.
And on his ‘Ask Martin’ BBC Radio 5 Live Podcast, the consumer champion shared the best time to take your meter reading on Thursday, March 31 – even if you’re on a smart meter, which will capture the data for you.
Responding to a question from a listener about taking a meter reading before the end of March, Martin said: “The price rise is on the 1st of April, so if you don’t have a smart meter and you don’t do a meter reading, then what the [energy] firm will do is estimate what proportion of your usage was before the 1st of April and what proportion of your usage was after the 1st of April and that will be an estimate and that’s how it’s billed.
“What I’m suggesting everybody does – everybody – is you take a meter reading, preferably Thursday evening.”
The founder of MoneySavingExpert.com also explained that anyone not using a smart meter will need to send in and register their reading with their energy supplier.
Martin said: “You do that to draw a line in the sand that says ‘every one of these energy units used until this point should be charged st the cheap rate and should not be charged at a more expensive rate’”.
But he added: “We’re in such a seismic period right now, I don’t think there is any problem even if you’ve got a smart meter and you don’t give a meter reading to anyone – just get on your phone and take a picture of it then send an email to yourself because then it’s time stamped and you’ve got it just in case there are any problems.”
Energy bill Direct Debits going up by more than 54%
Martin also explained three reasons why some energy bill Direct Debits are going up by more than Ofgem’s 54 per cent price cap from April 1.
- You were previously on a fixed tariff which has now ended and you’re now on the price cap which could mean someone with typical, average usage who was paying around £900 will now see it more than double to £1,917.
- You’ve chosen to fix, so you’ve moved to a fix which is more expensive than the price cap in which case you would expect to see an increase of more than 54 per cent.
- Some energy firms may be inflating estimated Direct Debit bills to help with their cashflow. This could also be higher if you have debt on your account. However, Martin said that if you are in credit, and it’s going up by more than your rate is going up, then it could be an issue and you should take a meter reading before contacting your supplier to challenge it.
You can find out more information about why your Direct Debit is higher than you expected on the MoneySavingExpert.com website here.
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