FAQs - Your questions answered

Many households around Scotland are concerned about the recent price rise in energy bills, following the rise of the energy price cap April 2022.

With concern comes a lot of questions, so here at Changeworks we've put together a handy list of FAQs to answer any queries you may have – from how much extra you're likely to be paying, through to ways you can start to save money now.

If you can't see your question answered below, please contact our Affordable Warmth team on 0800 870 8800 (Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm) or email warmth@changeworks.org.uk.

Additionally, our teams working in the Home Energy Scotland advice centres in south east Scotland and the Highlands and Islands offer completely free and impartial advice on all manner of energy topics. Their expert advisors can talk you through simple ways you can reduce your energy use and save money on your bills.

Home Energy Scotland has helped over 25,000 homeowners and private tenants to benefit from the Scottish Government funded Warmer Homes Scotland programme. Eight out of ten of these homeowners have received free energy efficiency improvements, and have also saved on average around £300 on their energy bills per year.

You can get in touch on 0808 808 2282 or visit homeenergyscotland.org/contact to email them or to ask for a call back.

The news headlines say that energy prices are going to rise on average by £693 a year. Why is this happening?

In short, it is due to the rise in the government energy price cap that is set by Ofgem. The price cap is rising because it costs energy suppliers more to buy electricity and gas and sell it on to customers.

What is the energy price cap?

The energy price cap is the maximum amount an energy supplier can charge customers who are on their standard variable rate tariff. It is set based on the operating costs of the energy suppliers. Fixed tariffs and certain green tariffs are excluded.

What is a fixed rate tariff?

A fixed rate tariff is where the unit rate and standing charge is guaranteed for a specified time. An end date will be given and is often included in the name. This is not subject to the new price cap.

What is a variable tariff?

A variable tariff is where the unit rate and standing charge can be changed by the supplier. This is subject to the new price cap.

How do I find out exactly how much more will I be paying for my energy bills?

Not everyone's costs will go up straight away – fixed rate tariffs should be honoured. The amount more you will pay is based on what your current tariff is and how much energy you use. Your energy supplier will tell you if you contact them and ask. Your energy supplier will tell you about any change to your tariff and any changes to what you actually pay them.

I have a prepayment meter. How much more will I have to pay for my energy?

Prepayment meters will also be affected by increased rate changes. It means your meter will run out of credit more quickly than before. How much will depend on how much energy you use. For example, a top-up that used to last you seven days may now only last four or five days.

What ways can I save money now ahead of the price rise in April?

There are many small and simple ways you can start to save money on your energy bills, such as only filling the kettle with the water you need to boil, using a shower instead of a bath and switching off lights in an empty room. For more detailed information on energy saving tips, download our Switched On advice pack.

What discount schemes or benefits are in place to help me with my bills?

One of the most accessible discount schemes on offer is the Warm Home Discount scheme, which offers a £140 rebate from your energy supplier if in your household:

• Someone receives the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, even if you get Savings Credit as well

OR

• The annual income is less than £16,090 or there is a means tested benefit. E.G. income support, income-based job seekers allowance, universal credit

AND

• There is a vulnerability. E.G. young children in the household, disability, aged over 62.

Click here to read our Warm Homes Discount advice sheet, or ring our Affordable Warmth Team on 0800 870 880 to find out more and how to register.

The UK Government has also announced a £200 'discount' on energy bills this autumn for all UK households. Customers will pay back the discount automatically in equal instalments over five years, starting from financial year 2023-24, when wholesale gas prices are expected to come down.

There may be other schemes available to households in Scotland that become available. Please call our Affordable Warmth Team on 0800 870 880 to find out more.

What is the Scottish Government doing to help those struggling with energy bills?

The Scottish Government will give £150 to all households that already receive council tax reduction. If you live in a household that pays council tax in Bands A-D but don't receive council tax reduction, you'll also receive the £150 rebate from April 2022.

This £150 rebate is in addition to the £200 'discount' being offered by the UK Government.

What is a standing charge?

A standing charge is the daily charge to cover the cost of the energy supply grid. It is paid regardless of your payment method – prepayment meter, direct debit, quarterly etc. For more information watch our handy video guide on understanding your energy bills.

What is a unit price?

The unit price is the cost for 1kWh of electricity or gas. This is equivalent to a typical electric heater turned on to its maximum setting for 30 minutes.

How does direct debit work?

A direct debit is usually a set amount automatically paid from your bank account on a monthly basis, although the time period can sometimes be different. The monthly cost is worked out by estimating your total energy cost for the year before then being split into equal instalments that are paid throughout the year.

Is it cheaper to pay my energy bills via direct debit?

Most of the time, yes. Suppliers usually have different tariffs for different payment methods. The prepayment price cap is higher than the direct debit price cap.

Is it cheaper to pay for the energy I use per month instead of a flat fee?

Paying for the energy you use means you will pay less in summer and more in winter. However, it can make budgeting hard as the amount you'll pay during the winter will be much higher. Also, suppliers may have a higher tariff if you pay for your energy this way rather than a via a fixed direct debit.

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