Empowering the Freelance Economy

Predicted January energy price cap rises again

Everyday energy saving tips can help cut your bills this winter/ Photo by Daria Obymaha via Pexels
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Freelancers have to brace themselves for higher-than-expected energy bills this winter. The latest predicted energy price cap is nearing closer to £4000, much higher than previously predicted. Policy experts share their views on what they think the government should do and how we can break some bad energy-wasting habits to help make ends meet.

As we get closer to the announcement of the next price cap, the predictions keep rising higher and are now becoming impossible for policymakers to ignore, according to Justina Miltienyte, head of policy at Uswitch.com

“Predictions of January’s price cap hitting £3,850 – nearly doubling in just 12 months – will be deeply distressing to every energy bill-payer. It is also well above the prediction of £2,800 that the Government based its original support package on,” said Miltienyte.

The policy expert said The Energy Bill Support has been a welcome and necessary measure for this winter – but it needs to be reviewed, as the Select Committee has recommended.

“People desperately need to know what specific financial support will be provided to help with their bills, particularly the vulnerable,” she said.

Uswitch colleague Richard Neudegg, director of regulation, is not convinced talk of a 5% cut in VAT on energy bills will be enough to make a sizeable difference to people’s affordability when energy bills hit record highs this October.

“Households have been waiting two weeks to hear the candidates’ plans to solve the energy bills crisis, and it’s a positive step that ideas are starting to be discussed,” said Neudegg.

Temporarily cutting VAT from energy bills is a reasonable idea to put on the table, and could be part of the solution. But it won’t be enough by itself in the face of the price rises that are to be revealed in less than a month.

Richard Neudegg, director of regulation, Uswitch

“If the average bill were to hit the predicted [yet lower estimate] £3,244 from October, removing the 5% VAT would save £154 a year. This potential saving looks dwarfed by the fact that bills this winter are set to be around £2,000 higher on average than last year— and around £500 more than was predicted when the Government set out its support package in May.

The regulation specialist said what really matters is what specific financial support will be provided to people on their bills, particularly the vulnerable, rather than the delivery mechanism.

“It is time for both Conservative leadership candidates to show they can get the job done for anxious households,” he said.

“We call on both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to work together as a matter of urgency so that clear, concrete support is laid out at the point that the new price cap level is announced on August 26. 

“Above all else, households need clarity as soon as possible to help them plan for the most expensive winter in living memory.”

In the meantime, try to save energy costs through common sense actions, such as:

Break the appliance standby habit

According to the ‘Powering the nation’ study completed by Energy Saving Trust, between 9-16% of the electricity consumed in homes is used to power appliances when they are in this standby mode. The older the appliance the most standby energy it will use.

Most mobile phones will be fully charged in 2 hours, so make a habit of charging it a couple of hours before you go to bed and unplug it. By charging it overnight, it is wasting energy and money. Break the habit.

Make another habit of turning appliances such as your dishwasher, microwave, toaster, coffee machine, kettle, washing machine, tumble dryer and electric oven off at the switch will all eat up electricity when left on standby.

The Energy Saving Trust has some tips on how to save energy when you cook:

Save energy when you cook

  • If you are cooking for one, cook for 2 instead since it saves on energy and food waste. Plus, you will also have a meal that you can have the next day for lunch or you can freeze and defrost for another day.
  • Measure proportions to avoid food and energy waste
  • Heat water in a kettle, rather than on the stove. You can transfer it into a pan once it’s already boiled
  • Only use as much water as you need – boiling extra takes more time and energy
  • Always cover your pots and pans – the water will boil faster and use less energy to heat your food
  • Turn off the heat a couple of minutes before your food is fully cooked – particularly if you’ve got an electric hob, as they take some time to cool down and will continue to cook your food
  • Don’t open the oven door repeatedly – you’ll let out hot air and waste energy. If you can, take a look through the glass door instead

Save energy when you freeze food

In addition to using an appropriately sized fridge or freezer, you can save energy by ensuring it works effectively.

  • never put hot food directly into the fridge or freezer, allow it to cool on the side first
  • defrost your fridge or freezer regularly
  • don’t hold the door open for extended periods of time, as it’ll have to work harder to cool the temperature afterwards
  • keep your fridge at 5 degrees Celsius or less. On average, we keep our fridges at 7 degrees Celsius, which means our food goes off sooner
  • ensure there’s at least a 10cm gap behind your fridge to let heat flow away more easily
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