BULB customers will see their energy bills soar by £91 a year from April – but you can save £150 if you switch providers now.
The green energy supplier said it's raising the price of standard credit and prepayment tariffs to reflect an increase in wholesale costs.
Prepayment customers will energy costs rise the most, with an extra £137 a year added to bills.
All 1.7million Bulb customers will see bigger gas and electricity bills from April 19, the provider said.
It comes a month after the regulator announced the energy price cap will go up from April.
It means the maximum price that suppliers can charge for electricity and gas will rise from £1.042 a year to £1,138 a year.
How to save on your energy bills
SWITCHING energy providers can sound like a hassle – but fortunately it’s pretty straight forward to change supplier – and save lots of cash.
Shop around – If you're on an SVT deal you are likely throwing away more than £300 a year. Use a comparion site such as MoneySuperMarket.com, uSwitch or EnergyHelpline.com to see what deals are available to you.
The cheapest deals are usually found online and are fixed deals – meaning you'll pay a fixed amount usually for 12 months.
Switch – When you've found one, all you have to do is contact the new supplier.
It helps to have the following information – which you can find on your bill – to hand to give the new supplier.
- Your postcode
- Name of your existing supplier
- Name of your existing deal and how much you pay
- An up-to-date meter reading
It will then notify your current supplier and begin the switch.
It should take no longer than three weeks to complete the switch and your supply won't be interrupted in that time.
Around four million households on prepayment meters will also see bills rise by £87 from £1,069 to £1,156.
But even though Bulb is hiking prices, they will still sit below the price cap thresholds.
Here we explain how and why Bulb prices are going up as well as ways tosave £150 by switching providers.
How is my Bulb tariff changing?
Most of the big energy suppliers, like British Gas, Scottish Power, EDF and EOn, have already raised their rate to Ofgem's maximum price cap that will come into force in April, but Bulb has stopped short of charging the threshold.
Bulb’s standard credit customers will instead pay a maximum £1,057 a year – £81 below the price cap. This works out to be £91 more a year.
What to do if you can’t pay your bills
FALLING behind on your energy bills can be extremely stressful.
If you’re struggling to pay what you owe, contact your supplier as soon as possible.
Your provider has to help you come up with a solution, and you should be able to negotiate a deal that works for you both.
One option is to agree a payment plan where you pay off your debts in affordable instalments.
You may be able to pay off your debts directly from your benefits through the Fuel Direct Scheme.
A fixed amount will automatically be taken to cover what you owe plus your usage.
To be eligible, you must be getting one of the following benefits:
- Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
- Income support
- income-related employment and support allowance
- Pension credit
- Universal Credit (but only if you’re not working)
If you cannot come to an agreement with your supplier, they may try to force you to get a prepayment meter installed.
In very rare cases, where you refuse to negotiate, your supplier might threaten you with disconnection.
Meanwhile, prepayment customers will pay a maximum £1,147 a year – just £9 below the price cap, but still an extra £137 a year.
Why are Bulb’s energy prices going up?
In a blog post, Bulb explained that it is putting up its prices due to the increase in the cost of supplying electricity.
The provider said cold weather in Europe and Asia this winter, caused by extreme conditions like the Polar Vortex and arctic winds, meant that the demand for gas and electricity went up.
Bulb also added that there has been less wind than usual for this time of year, meaning wind farms are producing smaller amounts of electricity than expected.
A Bulb spokesperson told the Sun: "We wanted to protect prices for our members over the winter, and we’ve held off passing this increase on for as long as possible.
"We pass on cost savings when the cost of supplying energy falls, so when it drops by more than £20 per year, so will our prices."
How can I save money by switching provider?
Bulb is not the cheapest provider for direct debit users so switching can help you save money when prices go up in April.
Bulb doesn’t charge an exit fee either so you can leave your contract for free.
The cheapest tariff for direct debit users is on average £154 a year cheaper than Bulb’s new price on typical use, according to Money Saving Expert (MSE).
For prepayment deals, the cheapest is typically £163 a year on average less than Bulb’s new rate, MSE found.
But it’s important that customers carry out their own price comparison as rates differ depending on how much energy you use and where you live.
You can compare the best deals for your home using comparison tools on MSE’s Cheap Energy Club, USwitch or MoneySuperMarket.
Another way you may be able to save up to £150 a year by switching to a fixed-rate tariff, according to Ofgem.
These tariffs may be more expensive upfront but you won’t be caught out if prices rise due to market volatility – as they have this year.
Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at Uswitch.com said: "The good news is that there are plenty of fixed deals available that would protect households from market volatility and provide not just certainty and reassurance, but significant cost savings."
However, bear in mind that fix-rate tariffs may only work out cheaper if variable tariffs – like Bulb's – increase that year.
The best value fixed deal currently available on the market is £945 a year from Avro Energy, which is £193 cheaper than the new price cap.
Of course, it's worth bearing in mind that the actual price you pay on a fixed-rate tariff will depend on how much energy you use.
Last year, Bulb paid out £1.76 million in refunds after overcharging and wrongly switching thousands of customers.
Meanwhile, the latest price hike announcement in February came days after Ofgem agreed to allow providers to charge households an extra £23.69 a year to help cover coronavirus related debts.
Here, we’ve compiled a general guide on how to save up to £200 on energy bills after the price cap rise.
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