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Martin Lewis's energy warning video: Three tips to help you with the looming price cap increase

As the looming energy price cap increase draws ever closer, MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis offers three tips to try and prepare you for the hike. Watch the video below or read the transcript to find out more.

Important update Tuesday 22 March. WARNING: The 'top up prepay meters before April' trick mentioned in the video may NOT now work for all. Unfortunately information we were given by energy firms and the regulator no longer looks watertight. For full info, see Martin's prepay trick warning. We've left the info below as it was before this new information came to light for reference. 

Martin Lewis gives three urgent energy bill tips
Embedded YouTube Video

Here's the full transcript from Martin

"Hi, I'm Martin Lewis from MoneySavingExpert.com. We're amidst an energy bills crisis. On 1 April, the price cap the majority of homes are on is going to rise by 54%, adding a typical £700 to the average bill. Then on 1 October, it changes again, and we're a month through the six-month period that that's assessed on.

"If it continues the way it has so far, expect to see another 40% rise on top of the April rise in October, taking a typical bill for a household to an unaffordable £2,900. Clearly political intervention is needed. Many people are also asking me right now 'should I fix?' Well, I've done a full video on that – it's on MoneySavingExpert.com.

"What I want to do today, though, is three quick tips that may help a little..."

1. Prepayment meter users can top up at cheaper prices before 1 April

"The first is for those of you on prepayment meters, specifically non-smart prepay meters – if you're on a smart prepay, this won't help. The regulator Ofgem has confirmed to me that you get the rate on the day you top up, not when you use energy.

"Now, that means if you max out your top-up in March before the rate goes up, that's what you'll get, even if you then use that energy in April. So you can extend the cheap rate we have now for longer by maxing your top-up if you can afford it – and I know not everybody on prepay can.

"Now, every mainstream company has confirmed to me that this will work, with one exception – Scottish Power, which says it will add a rate on top of that. That seems to me at odds with what the regulator is saying, so I've reported it to Ofgem to try and see if there is a way around that. But I don't have an answer on that yet."

2. Direct debit users should take a meter reading on 31 March before prices rise

"If you're on direct debit, I'm afraid there's no similar system for you. If you artificially inflate your direct debit in March, that's fraud, you can't do it. But I would suggest you do a meter reading today and diarise to do a meter reading on 31 March, so you draw a line and tell the energy company all this energy I've used should be at the cheap rate."

3. Watch out for the Government's council tax rebate to help with energy costs

"Final tip, you'll know that there are a couple of Government schemes to come in place. There's the controversial "loan not loan scheme" happening in October. But the other one is in April, where all those in council tax bands A to D will get a £150 rebate to help with energy costs. It was initially just in England, but Scotland and Wales are now doing it and we await to hear in Northern Ireland.

"Well, for the English scheme, we're being told you will get the money automatically paid into your bank account as long as you pay for council tax by direct debit. If you don't do that already, there's still time to set it up, though I can't give you deadlines because it's council-by-council.

"If you don't set the direct debits up, then keep an eye out for a letter from the council, because each council will tell you its claim system and you need to watch for that.

"If you're not eligible for the £150, say, because you're in a higher band, then there is a discretionary £140 million fund being set up to help those who are struggling. It will be up to each council to decide how it distributes it, but be ready to claim that. I hope this helps."

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