Help for households - your questions answered

Householders across the UK are facing a rise in energy bills.

The Government is providing a website dedicated to letting people know all the support available to help with the cost of living crisis. You can find this at:

Your questions answered

To support residents in this difficult time, Octavia has prepared some answers to frequently asked questions to help.

The guidance is for residents who buy electricity and gas from private utility companies. It does not apply to residents who buy energy from Octavia, for example from a heat network (also known as communal heating).

Will my energy bills rise?

This depends on what kind of deal or tariff you have with your energy company. You may be on a ‘standard variable tariff’, sometimes known as the ‘default tariff’. Standard variable means the prices you are charged for energy go up and down with changes in the market. If you’ve never switched supplier, or your last switch was over a year ago, you’ll have usually defaulted to a standard variable tariff. The energy price cap (set by Ofgem) limits the cost of energy (pence per kWh) on a variable tariff. However, the price changes every six months.

If you are on a fixed tariff, your energy prices will not change for the duration of your contract (usually 12 months from the start of the contract). If your contract is coming to an end shortly, you may well have to change to a more costly deal. Fixed tariffs are not protected by the energy price cap.

What type of tariff am I on?

There are several different tariffs available on the market. Uswitch have provided a useful summary of these:

If you are unsure which tariff you are on, your supplier can tell you or you can check your last energy bill. If in further doubt, a Green Doctor consultation can help you understand.

Should I switch my supplier, or find a better deal?

There are many Ofgem-accredited tariff comparison websites which are listed below. If you do not have access to the internet, you can call these comparison companies for advice over the phone.

  • Energy Helpline - 0800 074 0745
  • Energy Linx - 0800 849 7077
  • Money Supermarket - 0333 123 1972
  • My Utility Genius - 0203 468 0461
  • Simply Switch - 0800 011 1395
  • Switch Gas and Electric - 03333 700 600
  • UK Power - 0800 320 2000
  • uSwitch - 0800 688 8557
  • Which? - 0800 410 1149

What happens if my supplier stops trading?

If your energy provider goes out of business, you won't stop receiving gas and electricity. Your account will be moved to a new supplier by energy regulator Ofgem - although this may take a few weeks. Unfortunately, you may end up on a more expensive tariff with a new supplier.

Citizens Advice recommends making a note or taking a photo of your meter reading and downloading any bills while you wait for your new supplier to contact you. There's no need to cancel any direct debits straight away. Instead, you can wait for your new account to be set up before cancelling the existing arrangements. The new supplier will contact you to set up a new payment.

If you're in credit with your old supplier, your money is protected and you'll be paid back. If you're in debt, you'll still have to pay the money you owe.

What if I’m on a prepayment meter?

If you’re on a prepayment meter, it’s worth seeing if you can move to a standard credit meter. This would mean you could pay for your energy by direct debit, which is cheaper than paying for your energy as you use it.

Prepayment tariffs are usually the most expensive tariffs, so switching could save you money.

If you were forced to start using a pre-payment meter because of previous financial problems, your record may have improved to the extent that you can return to a credit meter. If you inherited a pre-payment meter, check if you can switch to a standard credit meter.

What government schemes can I apply for support with my fuel bills?

There are a number of government led scheme’s which can help with your fuel bills. More information on these schemes and how to apply to them can be found from the link below:

For help with understanding if you are eligible and for support with an application, contact the Green Doctors.

How can Octavia support residents?

Green Doctors

Octavia has partnered with the Green Doctors who provide free and impartial advice on energy use. If you are confused or concerned about your utility bills and would like to understand your options, we recommend contacting the Green Doctors for a telephone consultation.

Green Doctors can also provide advice on saving energy in the home, for example by setting your heating controls to heat your cost effectively.

More information about Green Doctors.

Octavia’s Financial inclusion team

If you are worried about being able to manage payment of your bills or need financial help, call Octavia on 020 8354 5500 and we will make a referral to our Financial Inclusion team. The team have a great deal of experience of delivering benefits and money advice.

More information on our Financial Inclusion service.

Government support

The energy supply situation is changing constantly at the moment. For the latest up to date advice from the Government on support for households during the current energy crisis, you can find this at their dedicated website