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ENERGY bills could rocket by £830 on average this winter – an energy expert explains what you must do NOW to prepare for the hike.
Households are set to be clobbered once more by rising energy bills when the price cap is expected to jump again in October.
Ofgem's boss warned that the price cap could be set to somewhere in the region of £2,800 – up from the current £1,971.
The Russia-Ukraine crisis has fuelled higher prices, which have been passed onto customers.
It will be a bitter blow to customers already struggling to pay their bills.
Six million people now owe their energy provider, with the average amount owed standing at £188.
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Households should prepare now for the hike as best they can, Uswitch energy expert Will Owen said.
You can make the most of the warmer summer months to try and drive down your heating and electricity bills.
Getting into "good energy-saving habits" will also help you save money later on in the year, he said.
He's one of the experts on The Sun's Squeeze Team panel, here to help you get through one of the worst cost of living crises the nation has faced in decades.
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If you’re worried about making ends meet, are struggling to pay off your debts or don’t know how best to manage your cash, get in touch by emailing [email protected]
Use summer to get ahead of bills
Now is a great time to lower your energy usage.
"It is much easier to reduce energy use in the spring and summer when it is warmer and you no longer have to put the heating on," he said.
Households were forking out an average of £335 every month to keep the central heating running overnight last winter, according to research from the Energy Helpline.
As you won't need to reach for the thermostat over the summer months, that means you could be saving yourself at £1,005.
You could save even more by ditching your tumble dryer and hanging your clothes outside on the line.
Using the tumble dryer three times a week will cost you £154 a year – so you could save around £52 by turning it off during warmer months.
But make sure you don't fall into a big bills trap by using energy guzzling summer appliances.
Hot tubs are popular when the sun is out, but using yours during the warmer weather could add £900 to your energy bills.
While an electric patio heater could cost up to £100, and an electric BBQ £57.
Check your freezer
Whether you're reaching for an ice lolly or an ice pack, when the weather gets warmer, it could be an idea to check your freezer.
It's one of the most energy-intensive appliances in your house – and if it's not running properly, it could be driving up your bills.
"Make sure it is not full of ice, as this will stop it from performing as efficiently," Mr Owen said.
When frost builds up in your freezer, it means the motor has to work harder and needs more energy – this could add £150 to your bill.
While you're at it, make sure it's in the right place – putting it somewhere cool and ventilated will mean it needs less energy to run – saving you around £60 a year.
Freezers work best when they're full (although not packed to bursting) as this means there's less air inside that needs cooling down.
Change how you do your laundry
Making a few simple tweaks to the way you put a load of washing on could help you lower your bills.
"Washing your clothes at 30 degrees rather than 40 can reduce your costs by a third," Mr Owen said.
Energy Saving Trust said this trick can help you shave £12 a year off your energy bills.
Although this doesn't sound much, it all adds up when you're following other money saving tips while washing your clothes – and the more loads you do, the more impact it will have.
British Gas engineer Joanna Flowers previously told The Sun that you could save £10 a year setting your machine to eco-mode.
While setting it tohigh speed spin will mean clothes come out of the machine almost dry – which means you can hang them up and they'll dry in no time, removing the need for expensive tumble dryers.
This could save you £40 a year.
Apply for help
If you're using all the energy saving tricks you can and you're still struggling to pay your bills, it's a good idea to apply for financial assistance.
"If you are struggling with your energy bills, get in touch with your supplier as soon as possible," Mr Owen said.
That's because your energy company might offer you a grant if you are in debt and you can't afford costs.
A number of energy suppliers have boosted the pot of funding put aside for struggling customers this year.
For example, EDF boosted its hardship fund to £10million while Octopus Energy has increased its financial hardship fund, Octo Assist, from £2.5million to £5million.
British Gas customers can apply for grants of up to £750 and could get debts of up to £1,000 written off.
You can also apply for energy bill help through the Household Support Fund and your local council's Welfare Assistance scheme.
For both of these schemes, you'll need to apply through your local authority, who you can find using the gov.uk's checker tool.
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