A time to put some budget aside for winter energy?

It is a concerning time for many in the UK, with lots of economic bad news coming out concerning delivery trucks (and truck drivers), Christmas food shortages, and now soaring energy prices.

While we (as customers) will most certainly be helped to have our contracts taken over should anything happen to our suppliers, it will be concerning for the total cost of the bills, and also for the effect on the jobs of those who work in the energy business.

If possible, it is probably a sensible time to ensure you’ve topped up your emergency savings funds and checked budgets to make sure you can afford an unplanned increase in gas and electricity bills over the winter months.

Is there anything else you are doing to help weather this shock? Do you have useful suggestions for others in the same situation?

I am certainly hoping for fairer weather so my solar panels can keep generating electricity for us at home … but it has been a very overcast and sunless year so far so I don’t hold out much hope.

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A very simple bit of advice with energy bills is make sure you provide your supplier with regular meter readings.

A surprising number of people don’t which can lead to “bill shock” once this is corrected.

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excellent advice! I know some who’ve ended up underpaying for a while (even though they had mentioned this to the supplier) but then suddenly getting a massive bill.

Even with smart meters, it is worth keeping an eye on the readings they report as I’ve had all sorts of issues with mine.

If you’ve got an old gas boiler nearing end of life, it might be a good time to think about a heat pump before this winter and before the generous renewable heat incentive (RHI) ends in March. Ofgem is still offering cash for the data from MMSP meters too. I suspect you won’t be able to find an installer by next month, as demand is going to rocket!

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That is very good advice - heat pumps are a very exciting technology and there are some great grants if you are quick, but I guess it is a matter of timing for most.

Unfortunately our boiler is relatively new, however, we are replacing an old stove and we’ve decided to make the switch away from gas so that the boiler is now the last gas appliance, and when that goes, we can be fully electric.

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It’s tricky if your boiler is still in warranty. Who knows what the government will do, if anything, to support phasing out…

I’m going to hang on to my gas stove, but review early next year. It’s sad getting rid of a lovely gas stove, but the standing charge alone will probably be prohibitive. Getting the gas disconnected entirely would be lovely

Of course, it’s all no good if you don’t have the cash to make the changes. All a case of the richer get richer, yet again.

May be obvious, but buying an electric heater wouldn’t be a terrible idea. Gas outages in the middle of winter that leave you with no heat are very grim. Nothing for it but to get into bed for most people. At least a medium heater in your smallest room or with several bodies packed into the living room is bearable

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If that’s not enough motivation - this can go the other way! My supplier got a bit of a shock when I gave them readings and they realised they owe me about £100. Hope they refund it before they go under :).

It slightly softened the fact that coming of my current fix this month I’m going to be paying over £30/month more for energy on the cheapest new fix I could find…

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I switched to a new two years fixed tariff a few months ago, after seeing the energy wholesale price moving up but before it gone wild. My new provider is not a Big 6, but it has over a million customers. I doubt they will go under this winter or the next. Thinking back then, when I looked at the comparison sites, the cheapest provider which I didn’t choose was one that went bust last week. I didn’t choose them because they were small and their website felt like those created by IT contractors, and I didn’t have much confidence in them.

I don’t know it’s me being lucky or just had a good idea of the energy market at that time, both the timing and pick of the provider are impeccable. That move alone may well save me a couple of hundred pounds in this winter, and maybe more the next winter.

Advise? I’m not qualified to give that. But I surely can give some recommendations. Get a fixed tariff, even if it’s more expensive than a variable tariff. Don’t gamble on the price remaining the same (or go down) in the future. The downside risk is unlimited (price can go up as high as people are willing to pay, this is especially true during crisis), but the upside risk is limited (the price can’t go below zero). Only fools take unlimited downside risk for very little expected return (savings).

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A couple of years I had a big shock when a fairly hefty bill came through my door and floored me. I realised it was time to get a bit more proactive.

Having roughly worked out how much my summer and winter bills would be, I then set my direct debit to be somewhere in the middle. I paid each month (supplying meter readings when I actually remembered) and pretty much forgot about it for a year. I checked recently to discover I was £120 in credit! I appreciate there are many variables here (I am in a one bed flat and it’s well insulated), but this unconscious saving meant I’m well covered for any potential winter shocks and (whisper quietly so @robert doesn’t hear) it means I can bake my sourdough in a gas oven all winter long…

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that’s going to be some rather pricey bread! :wink:

I’ve been overpaying my DD over the summer as well, so I have a healthy balance going into winter.

I was also expecting to go onto an innovative new tariff that combined usage and generation so I could more effectively use the battery storage capacity of my car to offset the expensive electricity in the evening, but I’ve not heard anything for a few weeks … so I suspect my supplier has put that on hold :frowning:

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Does your EV’s climate control have a ‘sourdough’ setting? I’m seeing a potential two birds with one stone situation…

Just did another quote - my 2 year fix is up another 40% from what I locked in 3 weeks ago… quite a relief even if I wish I’d been able to do something sooner…

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