Next month's 54% energy price cap increase means 22 million people will wake up to higher energy payments on 1 April. By now, your provider should have informed you of any changes to your bills.
If you haven't switched energy supplier or tariff in a while - or took no action when your last fixed deal ended - you'll be on a default, or variable tariff and in line for a price rise. Because there haven't been any switching options available for the last six months or so, most people in the UK are currently in this position.
We've heard from dozens of energy customers who have told Which? that they were paarticularly surprised to find that in amongst the announced price increases, one part of their energy payments - the standing charge - is set to climb significantly in their next bill.
Many energy companies have increased their standing charges this month, some by more than 100%. People are reporting that they'll soon be paying as much as 51p a day for electricity.
The standing charges that come as part of your energy payments are the fees you pay to your energy provider to access energy, before you've even started paying for what you use. You could think of them as similar to the line rental you pay to your telecoms company.
It's a fixed amount within your gas or electricity tariff, so you'll pay the same price for every day (or month) that you have your energy tariff, even if you don't use any fuel at all. In the past, we've seen some suppliers offer £0 standing charges, but these are no longer available in the current market.
Energy companies justify standing charges by explaining that they cover their costs for maintaining their networks, as well as other elements that come as part of running their business, such as paying government levies and grants like the.
If your energy tariff is out-of-contract, also known as standard, default or variable, it will be subject to . This is set to increase by 54% in April 2022, pushing a medium user's annual bill from£1,277 to £1,971.
The standing charge you pay counts as part of the price-capped amount. It's paid in addition to the unit rate - that's the amount you pay for the energy you actually use and report through your meter.
Simply put, gas and electricity providers can't charge you more than the price cap for the combination of your standing charge and unit rate if you're on one of these tariffs.
But how they split the balance is up to them. We've seen many energy companies vastly increase their standing charges this month ahead of the 1 April price cap change. For gas, it looks like many companies have hiked up the unit charge, with smaller changes to the standing charge. For electricity, we've seen large increases to both.
And with wholesale gas prices and inflation both forecast to stay high, it's very unlikely we'll see either standing charges or unit rates drop any time soon.
Suppliers' standing charges appear to have doubled or tripled in recent months. It's frustrating to customers, as it's the one element of your bills that you can't control without switching provider.
It's worth remembering though that for most energy customers, standing charges will still only make up a small proportion of your payments.For most users, the unit rates you pay for the electricity and gas you do use make up the majority of your bill, so it's always worth trying to reduce your usage where you can.
With your energy usage most likely making up the majority of your energy payments, reducing it if at all possible, will help shrink your payments.
Given that household incomes are already being squeezed from every angle, by rising inflation, grocery prices, petrol prices and national insurance rates, any small cutbacks you can make to your energy usage could help softten the blow.
Steps you can take to cut down your energy usage include: