Not hitting the amount specified on cap - most articles aimed at cap-only considerations

Hi all

I spent a total of £1391 this year on gas and electricity. About 500 below the cap and 600 below next year's,  despite estimates decreasing for next year. 

Most articles on MSE are centred around the gap. 

My problem is , I want to get cheaper gas and electric but all the articles are around the cap, which isn't affecting me at the moment. 

Another bit of info is I'm on a pay as you go meter, which is annoying as my electricity will switch off in a work meeting etc  when I'm WFH. However the tariff is Safeguard PAYGE, which appears cheaper than the alternatives on USwitch.

Should I stick on this tariff or abandon ship? Does anyone else have similar issues? 

Comments

  • QrizB
    QrizB Posts: 13,657
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    My problem is , I want to get cheaper gas and electric but all the articles are around the cap, which isn't affecting me at the moment.
    I think someone will be along in a moment to explain what the cap is, how it works and how it is indeed already affecting you.
    Or you can read the explainer I wrote a couple of years ago, linked from my signature.
    N. Hampshire, he/him. Octopus Go elec & Tracker gas / Shell BB / Lyca mobi. Ripple Kirk Hill member.
    2.72kWp PV facing SSW installed Jan 2012. 11 x 247w panels, 3.6kw inverter. 30MWh generated, long-term average 2.6 Os.
    Ofgem cap table, Ofgem cap explainer. Economy 7 cap explainer. Gas vs E7 vs peak elec heating costs.
  • What you need to be looking at is the tariff information for unit rates and standing charges. 

    The 'price cap' is yes, worked out based on a specific usage pattern with a mythical statistically average standing charge (because no region has the exact average, and it varies wildly for electricity) but all it does is cap the unit rate and standing charge you can be charged. 

    [There's also technically a different price cap for every region, for different payment methods, and for all-electric, but for simplicity we just say 'the price cap' as a shorthand for whichever price cap is applicable to the conversation.]

    While comparison sites aren't much use still, you'll have to go to each of the suppliers individually to find out their tariffs.  To compare them properly you ideally need to have some idea of your annual usage, but comparing tariff rate without it can give some idea of what one(s) might be cheaper.  You may also consider whether switching to a standard meter might be beneficial.

    Does your electricity cut off because it runs out?  If so, is there a reason you're not able to keep it topped up before it runs out?  Just slightly concerning because it cutting off when you need it isn't the way living with PAYG is intended to work.
  • Thanks both. I can absolutely afford it which is part or the reason it's so frustrating. If I just had some form of warning before it ran out I wouldn't have to reset everything in the house. 

    It's interesting what you say about the regional nuances and going direct to suppliers. I'll do just that and see how I get on. I've got the annual breakdown from British Gas so will use that 

    Really appreciate you taking the time to guide me 
  • QrizB
    QrizB Posts: 13,657
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    edited 15 December 2023 at 8:13AM
    Thanks both. I can absolutely afford it which is part or the reason it's so frustrating. If I just had some form of warning before it ran out I wouldn't have to reset everything in the house.
    Do you have a smart meter that you top up online, or an old key meter?
    If a key meter, you might want to think about switching to a smart meter. It'll give you more options for checking your balance and staying in credit. It'll also make it a lot easier to switch to a credit account, if you ever want to.
    N. Hampshire, he/him. Octopus Go elec & Tracker gas / Shell BB / Lyca mobi. Ripple Kirk Hill member.
    2.72kWp PV facing SSW installed Jan 2012. 11 x 247w panels, 3.6kw inverter. 30MWh generated, long-term average 2.6 Os.
    Ofgem cap table, Ofgem cap explainer. Economy 7 cap explainer. Gas vs E7 vs peak elec heating costs.
  • Scot_39
    Scot_39 Posts: 1,683
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    Beware you are currently on a safeguard PAYG tariff - which appeared to have some very specific conditions - according to one site including meter type - and Warm Home Discount - at least at time of launch according to this site


    These may no longer be true conditions even if they were at the time. 


    Prepay rates were subject of a lot of political pressure due to it's traditionally higher cost when energy prices surges last winter - so the regs around Ofgem default tariffs for prepay have changed since - to try and rebalance rates against the cheapest (discounted direct debit) rates - and are due to change to final solution - in April 24 in theory (at times they were still using EPG discounting - like on gas unit rates - via govt - transparent to your actual meter billing rates).

    Theres discussion of the gov / Ofgem rates balancing since that EPG scheme introduced in July 2023 - and regional prices - from Jan 1st at


    Not sure how these relate to your safeguard costs.

    But you need to stop thining in terms of total annual bills - and get used to comparing standing charges and unit rates when comparing deals / suppliers. The cap - as explained in others links - is not a hard cap - it's a rate cap.  Use more than the so called typical consumption - and you will pay more.

    And also check the conditions of safeguard tariffs - and if any additional discounts are built into your rates.

    Some suppliers also are offering discount tariffs to certain customers this winter - like EOn's 25% discount scheme - which may or may not apply - and other suppliers have announced other aid for certain customers.


    So if you think any such aid schemes might apply - like qualify by income or warm home discount eligibility etc - don't be afraid to ask any new supplier - or check with your own - if you might qaulify for any special schemes this winter.


  • Hi,
    Thanks both. I can absolutely afford it which is part or the reason it's so frustrating. If I just had some form of warning before it ran out I wouldn't have to reset everything in the house.
    there should be some way to see your credit balance on meter, might have to press a button to get into menu.

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