Martin Lewis’ MoneySavingExpert is urging customers to follow an energy payment loophole in order to curve bills.
The loophole concerns those on smart meters who will be receiving the first £66 as part of the £400 cost of living payment.
1MSE urges smart meter suppliers to rethink how they distribute the first £66 cost of living paymentCredit: Alamy
There are two types of prepayment meters. Traditional or “legacy” prepayment meters need to be topped up using a card or key fob which you can add cash to at local PayPoint kiosks.
But smart prepayment meters can be topped-up at home over an app or online.
Each energy supplier has the freedom to decide how it will apply the discount on to your energy meter.
MSE is urging smart prepayment meter suppliers to offer customers the option to split the first £66 of the cost of living payment between gas and electric bills.
Although you already have the option to do this if you’re on a traditional prepayment meter, it’s up to your supplier to create this option if you’re on a smart meter.
So far Bulb, E.on, Shell, Octopus and EDF have all agreed to either split the payment between gas and electric bills, or allow you to transfer all of it to your gas bill.
Right now, the payment only counts towards your electric bill.
MSE is urging for change because your gas bill is what pays for heating – which could now cost hundreds as prices soar.
It already costs about £1.08 to leave an electric heater on for an hour, which could amount to £30.24 a week.
Even so, it acts as an alternative to sky-high heating bills because they’re cheap to buy and seem like an obvious solution to staying warm.
But there are plenty of other ways to curve your heating bills in the meantime.
For example, you can always apply for government schemes to try and claim more support.
The warm homes discount scheme offers households up to £140.
This scheme is usually paid directly to your energy supplier, which will then apply the discount to your bills. You may be sent a £140 voucher if you have a pre-payment meter.
If you live in a low income household, you can also get £25 a week to help with energy bills during the winter thanks to the cold weather payment scheme.
You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area falls to zero degrees celsius or below over the space of a week, but you’ll need to be on some kind of means tested benefits to claim.
Tips and tricks
There are handy little tricks to curve your heating bill, and they don’t take much effort.
These are rolls of tape which you can line your doors with to retain warmth – you can get a roll for as little as £1.75.
Program your thermostat
This means you can set “on” and “off” time periods on your thermostat throughout the day to make sure you’re getting heat when you need it and not, for example, when you’re out of the house.
You can ask your energy supplier to help you out if you’re not sure how to do it.
Bleed your radiators
Neglecting to bleed your radiators could force them to work harder, and it means you could end up wasting energy heating nothing.
They might develop cold spots, where air gets trapped inside.
You can use a small valve key – like this one from Screwfix – which normally cost under £2 from any hardware store.
All you need to do twist the radiator key slowly anti-clockwise on the square valve you’ll find on the side.
If you hear a hissing sound, it means the trapped air is escaping – once this stops, close the valve to stop water coming out.
We recently came up with the easiest tricks that could save you £70 on your heating bills – without costing a thing.
We also explored the ‘boiler challenge’ – a simple trick that could end up saving you hundreds on bills.