Expert warns how households could be ‘overpaying’ on energy bills

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Bill payers are being warned that they might owe an energy company more money, depending on their method of payment. Individuals may be being more by direct debit, compared to those who don’t have a payment plan.

The latest Uswitch data showed that those who pay by direct debit owe their suppliers an average of £206.

This is a huge sum for many in the UK, but experts have shared ways households can negotiate with energy companies if they can’t pay.

Andy Kerr from BOXT shared his top tips, telling the Liverpool Echo: “If you’re struggling to afford your energy bills, the first thing you should do is contact your energy supplier to discuss ways to pay them what you owe.

“Your energy supplier has to help you come to a solution, but ensure you negotiate a deal that works for you and your monthly budget.

“If you have asked to set up a payment plan, this will include what you owe plus an amount for your current use.”

Andy continued: “Your supplier must take into account how much you can afford to pay and how much energy you’ll use in future, so make sure you have your monthly income and outgoings on hand, and also send regular meter readings and or get a smart meter installed so your bill is always based on accurate usage rather than an estimate.

“This means you’re less likely to be overpaying and also don’t risk underpaying then getting a big catch-up bill further down the line.”

He went on to share a number of schemes and grants available for people who are struggling amid the energy crisis.

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One example of a hardship fund or grant that one can get from the Government is the Winter Fuel Payment, which is available for people born on or before September 25, 1956.

Another scheme is the Cold Weather Payment grant, which is a £25 payment for every seven days of very cold weather, between November and March.

The Warm Home Discount is also available – this is a £150 discount for some people getting Pension Credit or some people in low-income households.

In other energy news, some energy companies will soon pay customers not to use electricity, in order to help avoid blackouts this winter.

These companies are Octopus Energy, OVO Energy, British Gas, ad E.On. The scheme the companies have agreed to is designed to encourage customers to switch the time they use electricity to off-peak hours on some days when supply is tight.

Most customers use electricty at similar times, with a particularly big spike in the evenings when people return from work, start cooking, or switch the TV on.

The scheme was decided on by the National Grid, and the energy companies have either signed up to its scheme, or have created their own.

OVO Energy, for example, has announced the launch of Power Move. The trial rewards customers up to £100 in total for moving non-essential energy use to times when the grid is greener and less congested.

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As for E.On, the company said households will see savings of £100, based on £3 per kWh, if they reduce their energy usage 29 times over winter. Credit will be paid into their energy account.

British Gas has said it intends to sign up to the National Grid’s scheme but has not confirmed any details. Customers will likely be asked to reduce electricity use by around 30 percent between 4pm and 7pm.

Octopus Energy is thought to have started to sign up customers to the National Grid scheme too. ‘Saving Sessions’ as the new scheme is called, will allow Octopus’ 1.4 million smart meter customers and around 5,000 of its business customers to reduce their usage during times of peak demand and get paid to do so.

For every unit of energy customers save compared to their normal usage during specific times, Octopus expects to pay customers £4 on average, potentially saving customers around £100 over the courwse of the winter. The scheme will run from later this month until November 2023.

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