Government announces plans to protect consumers from rip-off energy deals

There are currently around 15m British households on default energy tariffs

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Energy customers who are paying over the odds for their gas and electricity could be transferred to better deals automatically under new government proposals.

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The government last week said that it planned to trial automatic switching for customers who are on expensive default energy tariffs. This would mean that these customers would be automatically moved onto cheaper deals unless they chose to opt out. However, these trials aren’t due to begin until 2024, so if you’re currently paying more than you need to for your energy, you should act now to reduce your bills.

Here are our top tips for keeping your energy costs down.

1) Check your tariff
There are currently around 15m British households on default energy tariffs, which are usually the most expensive tariffs. An energy price cap was introduced in 2019 to protect these consumers, and the government has said that this cap could now be extended beyond 2023.
The price cap is currently set at £1,138 a year and will next be reviewed on August 6, with the new cap coming into effect from October. It is widely expected to increase by more than £100 but there are plenty of cheaper options available, so it’s worth comparing what’s on offer from a range of different providers.
Kevin Pratt, energy expert at Forbes Advisor UK, said: “If you switch to a fixed rate tariff you need to switch again when it comes to an end to avoid dropping onto one of the expensive default deals. Luckily, the switching process is straightforward.”

2) Don’t leave gadgets on stand-by
Leaving devices on stand-by can add substantially to electricity bills, so make sure you turn them off at the wall whenever possible.

Ben Gallizzi, energy expert at Money.co.uk said: “Most people don’t realise how much power their devices are using even when they’re not turned on. Items such as televisions, computers and smart speakers all use a surprising amount of electricity even when they aren’t being actively used.

“Many of us have had to work from home over the past year and that’s also had an impact with many workers leaving laptops and phone chargers plugged in.”

3) Don’t use more water than you need
If you’re boiling the kettle or a saucepan of water to cook something, only use the amount of water that you’ll need, as you’ll use more energy the fuller your kettle or pan is. Similarly, make sure you cook using the right-sized pan when cooking. If you just grab the biggest one, you’ll use more electricity or gas heating it up.

4) Use energy efficient appliances
If you need to replace any of your appliances such as your washing machine, fridge freezer or dishwasher, go for the most energy efficient model possible to help keep your electricity bills down. Appliances rated A++ or higher will be the cheapest to run.

5) Turn off the lights
When leaving any room in your house, always make sure the lights are turned off along with any other appliances. It’s also worth switching to energy efficient lightbulbs, as these can make a big difference to your electricity bills. According to the Energy Saving Trust, switching from 75 watt incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs could save you up to £5 per bulb per year.

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