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Millions can expect ‘shock’ energy bill this autumn

Lockdown restrictions and working from home have seen energy use skyrocket in 2020…

Tom Harrison
Content writer
2
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Posted 10 SEPTEMBER 2020

A nasty shock could be heading the way of millions of UK energy customers this autumn when their updated bill balance reveals bigger-than-expected debts.

With cooler weather closing in, a combination of ongoing lockdown restrictions and home working means many could rack up close to £300 in extra energy costs they hadn’t budgeted for this year.

The comparethemarket.com forecast makes particularly grim reading for those who don’t have a smart meter, and who took advantage of the recent three-month energy bill holiday, with these groups potentially owing even more come wintertime.

Extra energy being used

In normal circumstances, domestic energy use is lower in the summer months, increasing in the final quarter of the year as the winter takes hold.

But, as uncovered in earlier comparethemarket.com research, an overwhelming 72% of UK households notched up a surge in usage during the first half of 2020 – as washing machine, dishwasher, oven, light, TV, laptop and console use went into overdrive.

And with working from home still widely in play across the country, the average household could be set for a 37% rise in their usual annual energy bill. In fact, those with unchecked balances have likely already racked up £145 in unforeseen debt in the year to date.

If this continues, many households that pay their bills by direct debit could face a mounting debt balance of up to £294 more than expected.

‘Mounting concern’

Peter Earl, head of energy at comparethemarket.com said: “There is mounting concern that millions of households could be facing a substantial debt balance on their energy bills at the same time as the temperature drops. A combination of lockdown and millions more people working from home has meant energy usage has shot up.

“Many people pay their energy bills by direct debit, set up when they first opened their account. However, if their meter reading is out of date they could be in for a substantial shock when this is finally updated to reflect their actual usage.

“As such, we highly recommend that energy customers take a reading of their gas and electric meters now.”

The overspend situation could be even worse for households that had to take a payment holiday to deal with the financial impact of COVID-19.

If these households increase their energy consumption in the colder months as expected, they could face up to an additional £316 debt, and may end the year with a £610 debt balance.

Peter Earl continues: “One way that households can substantially reduce the amount they pay for their energy is to switch supplier.

“All too often, millions of households roll over onto their supplier’s standard variable tariff when they could save hundreds of pounds by switching to a competitively priced one or two-year fixed-rate tariff.”

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