HOUSEHOLDS are set for even MORE energy bill price increases as bills could hit £4,400 in January – here's what to do before the hikes.
Millions could be left scrabbling to find hundreds of pounds extra for their bills in January when the price cap is expected to go up again.
Previously, bills were estimated to rise to £3,358 from October and £3,616 from January.
But new predictions by energy consultancy Auxilione indicate these hikes could be way higher than initially thought.
It estimated bills could reach £3,687 in October and an eye-watering £4,400 in January.
Auxilione said: "We release today’s view with a caveat that we are having to re-do our analysis this week to ‘double check’ that the outputs are correct.
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The new estimates follow a massive billing shake-up announced by Ofgem this week, which will see bills rise more frequently.
Ofgem reviews the energy price cap – which limits how much suppliers can charge customers – every six months.
But this week it announced it will now be reviewed twice as often, meaning bills are likely to soar not just two times, but four times, a year now.
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Ofgem admitted that customers "face a very challenging winter ahead" but that it was working with the government and suppliers to see what further support could be given out.
Auxilione warned bills could balloon to £4,700 in April – but did say a prediction this far ahead is likely to be unreliable.
Unfortunately, there's not much you can do to avoid the hikes.
But there are steps in place that can help you lower your energy bills.
Here's what to do NOW ahead of the hikes.
Check for overpayments
Dozens of suppliers have fallen victim to the energy crisis and have collapsed as a result of spiralling prices.
Around 26 suppliers went bust last year.
But make sure to check your bills if you were one of thousands of customers affected and switched over to a new supplier.
The Sun has previously reported customers have seen payments taken from both their old and new suppliers.
You'll want to make sure you're not paying for a billing blunder.
Resolver consumer expert Martyn James said the best way to check if you're being overcharged on your bills is to keep track of how much energy you are using.
The best way to do this is to take regular readings of your gas and electricity meter and take photos.
If you think you're not using as much energy as what you're being charged for, then you should get in touch with your provider and send them the pictures you have to try and get a better rate.
If you've tried to resolve a problem with your provider and you're getting nowhere, the Energy Ombudsman will look at your case and see if they can help you deal with the complaint.
It helps resolve issues on billing, installations and delays, loss of service, customer service, and switching suppliers.
If they help take your complaint on, they can only help back bill you for 12 months.
Check your appliances
While the sun is out, you might not be thinking much about winter.
But before the cold weather kicks in, you'll want to check that all your appliances are running as efficiently as possible – or you could be stung with a big bill.
For example, common boiler problems like rust and whirring sounds could indicate its not working properly.
Fix these now to avoid problems down the line – or a surprise engineer bill.
The same goes for your radiators.
It's a good idea to bleed them – even when you're not using them.
Air bubbles can get trapped inside, which can add hundreds to your bill if left.
Cut your usage
Cutting your energy usage is a good way of taking back some control of your energy bills.
Don't leave devices on standby –
Energy Saving Trust estimates that between 9-16% of electricity used in homes is through appliances in standby mode.
On a bill of £500, this could account for as much as £80.
The next time you do your laundry, put on a full load and turn the temperature down to 30C to save money.
And don't run the tap while you're brushing your teeth – this mistake could be adding up to £60 per year to your bills.
Check out help you can get
There are plenty of energy grants and schemes open to help you out if you're struggling, like the British Gas hardship fund which can lend you up to £1,500 free cash towards bills.
There's also a one-off fuel voucher from your energy supplier if you're on a prepayment metre.
Contact your supplier directly to see what they offer, what the eligibility requirements are, and how much you can get.
If you don't know who your supplier is, you can find out here.
In terms of council funds, the Household Support Fund helps families with the rising cost of living, has been extended.
This help could include cash grants to pay bills or cover food costs – the help will depend on where you live.
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For example, residents in Blackpool can get as much as £300, depending on their circumstances.
To find out what support is available in your area, contact your local council.
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