ENERGY firms are warning pre-payment customers NOT to top-up extra before bills rise.
The average cost for a pre-payment meter customer is set to rise from £2,017 to £2,559 a year on October 1.
When prices last went up some pre-payment meter customers added extra funds onto meters in bid to temporarily beat the hike by locking in cheaper rates.
However, this time energy firms are warning against the trick – as it may not work.
EDF, E.ON, Octopus Energy, Shell Energy and Utilita have said that households should continue topping up their meters as normal as most of their prepay customers will automatically start paying the new unit rates from October 1.
Gareth Kloet, energy spokesperson at Go.Compare also said: “You won’t get a long term benefit from topping up in advance of the price rise in October if you have a prepayment meter.
“We’d recommend that customers continue to top up as normal and always try to have enough credit on the meter to be able to deal with anything over and above the “emergency credit” available.”
There are two types of prepayment meters. Traditional or “legacy” prepayment meters require a top up card or key fob which you can add cash to at local PayPoint kiosks.
Smart prepayment meters are digital and can be toped up in the comfort of your own home over an app or online.
These meters will automatically reflect any new energy prices from the moment they come into force.
Existing credit on smart meters will also be charged at the new rates from the date of the price change.
The process for those on traditional prepayment meters differs depending on your energy firm.
For example, E.ON and EDF have said that any existing credit will be charged by the new rate from October 1.
However, some firms may continue to charge the old rate until a customer tops up again.
If you have a smart prepay meter, it’s usually easy to request a credit refund however, for those on traditional meters it will take a bit longer.
Once your money is on your device you will not have the flexibility of being able to spend it on other important household bills – so make sure you only top up your meters with what you can afford.
What energy bill help is coming?
From October the first, all households will start to receive a £400 energy bill discount.
The payment will be dished out by your energy supplier and will be split across six discounts between October and March next year.
Households will receive a £66 energy bill discount in October and November and a discount worth £67 in December, January, February and March.
In November, a £300 one-off “Pensioner Cost of Living Payment” will be paid out to eight million households.
It will be given to those who already get the winter fuel payment – which is worth between £100 and £300 for those over state pension age.
Millions of households are in line to get the £150 Warm Home Discount between December and March 2023.
Check if you can get an energy grant
There are plenty of energy grants and schemes open to help you out if you’re struggling.
British Gas has recently confirmed that it’ll pay its most vulnerable customers grants worth £750 to help with sky-high bills.
The British Gas Energy Trust has previously paid struggling households up to £1,500 – and you don’t need to be a British Gas customer to apply for this help.
Ask your supplier what’s on offer and how to apply, or check here:
You can get free debt advice
If you’re in debt there are plenty of services you can take advantage of and they offer free advice on how to manage debt.
Most of them can offer you free guidance and help in person, over the telephone or online.