Around 14 million UK households are set for a £288 million energy bill shock as increased power used during the coronavirus lockdown is added to bills.
Research from comparison and switching service Uswitch.com, reveals that the average household can expect bills to have risen by £16 a month while they have been spending more time at home.
“The lockdown has forced millions of us to use more energy, but many bills aren’t yet reflecting this,” said Will Owen, energy expert at Uswitch.com.
The report says that nearly a fifth of bill payers (19 per cent), which is more than two million households, rely on their energy provider to visit their property and take meter readings. However, official meter readers have not been able to visit properties due to lockdown rules, meaning that current bills may not accurately reflect the amount of energy used.
It could be more than six months before these households see their bill change, leading to direct debits shooting up by as much as £25 a month in September, a total of £288 million across 14 million households.
The price rise is likely to hit vulnerable households hardest, with 21 per cent of people who rely on meter readers being over 65, or having a disability or a long-term medical condition.
Energy users who submit their own meter readings could also be in for a shock as the study reveals more than 11 million households have not submitted a reading for an average of two months and six days – before lockdown began.
These customers could see an extra £20 added to their monthly bills when their increased energy use is added to their direct debits.
According to the report, many people have issues reading their energy meters with almost one in ten (7 per cent) adults saying they don’t even know where theirs is. Younger people find this task the most challenging, with a fifth (18 per cent) of 18 to 34-year-olds unable to even locate their meter.
Mr Owen said: “Checking your meter takes a matter of minutes once you know where it’s located and which numbers to report on. If you can give your supplier an accurate reading, they reward you with an accurate bill – rather than give you a nasty surprise later on.
“As a rule of thumb, it is worth checking your meter once a month, especially if your energy consumption has changed recently.”
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