Finance

Energy bills: Millions of households to face a ‘substantial’ debt balance – will you?

Energy bills have likely become a problem for many people in recent months as coronavirus has forced millions of people to work from home where they can. This means that more power will be needed to charge laptops and computers and the like.

This could hit particularly hard soon as new analysis from comparethemarket.com shows that millions of energy customers could be in for a substantial bill shock.

According to the company’s research, a rise in energy usage caused by this lockdown may lead to households without a smart meter and those who do not receive a manual meter reading from their supplier rack up an unforeseen debt balance of £145 to date.

They warned that if left unchecked until the end of the year, households could unknowingly owe their suppliers as much as £294 more than expected.

This outcome is likely, given the results of additional research from the company.

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Existing analysis from the company found that 72 percent of households in the UK had seen energy usage surge in the first half of the year in many run-of-the-mill appliances, including dishwashers and washing machines, ovens and hobs, lighting, gaming, TVs and laptops.

If left unchecked, households that pay their bills via direct debit could face a huge debt this balance.

Families could be caught off guard as, due to coronavirus restrictions, energy suppliers halted sending out meter reading out to properties and smart meter installations were put on hold.

On top of all this, energy bills will likely increase as the months get colder.

Peter Earl, the head of energy at comprethemarke.com, commented on their findings: “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.

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“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“However, if their meter reading is out of date they could be in for a substantial shock when this is finally updated to reflect their actual usage.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.

“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.”

While switching and looking for better deals should save consumers money, bills can also be reduced by simply using less energy.

On this, the Money Advice Service collated the following five top tips for how people can use less energy:



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