Loans for unexpected energy bills
from £100 to £2,500
Representative 1267% APR
Rising energy bills are contributing to an increase in people looking for additional funds to help them cover their essential spending. In 2018, debt and money charity StepChange’s Behind on the Basics report noted that 13% of people who came to them for advice were behind on their electricity and gas bill payments.
If you’ve received an energy bill you weren’t expecting, or if your regular bills have become unexpectedly high, then taking out a loan to pay the bill is unlikely to be the best choice, and instead you should contact your energy supplier, who is bound by a code of conduct to help. This guide from Sunny can help you understand the steps to take in resolving an unexpected or expensive bill with your energy company, and how to avoid being caught out by this again in the future.
Average cost of energy bills in the UK
|Energy||Average cost per month||Cost over year|
|Total||£130 per month||£1,560 per year|
What to do if you get an unexpected energy bill
All energy suppliers follow a code of conduct that means they must take certain steps to help you before cutting your supply. If you’ve received an energy bill that is more expensive than you thought it would be, or has come out of the blue, and you’re not able to pay it from your normal disposable income, then follow these steps to pay the bill and, if you’re not able to, get the help that you need:
If your bill is much higher than usual or you were not anticipating one landing, here are the steps to take:
- Call your energy provider – Contact their customer services team and explain the situation. They may look into the bill to double check it is all correct and could even work with you to set up a repayment plan to help you spread the cost.
- Look into what you can cut out to free up money – To pay back the bill, even if you do have a repayment plan in place with your energy provider, it’s worth looking into what you can save money on. Perhaps you can batch cook your lunches to cut back the cost of meal deals or cancel a subscription service or a gym membership you no longer use. These savings can then be put forward to cover the cost of the bill.
- Use your savings – If you have any savings, use these first. It may delay whatever you were working towards but it’s important your energy bill is paid, as missed or delayed payments can impact your credit rating.
- Ask friends and family for help – Your parents, siblings or close friends may have the spare cash you need to cover the cost of your bill. You can then pay them back later.
Consider a loan for a utility bill – You can apply for a short-term loan that can be used to pay the bill and then repaid over an agreed period of time. This is something Sunny can help with, we provide short-term loans that people can turn to in such a time, to pay the bill and spread the cost of paying back the borrowed amount over a period of six – 14 months. Click here to find out more about our short-term loans.
How to avoid large energy bills in the future
There are ways to cut back the costs of your energy bills to avoid overly large bills coming through the letterbox.
Switch to a prepaid meter
Prepaid meters mean you can carefully track how much you spend, as you physically top up a meter with a card or key. You pay for the energy before you use it, rather than being billed after and you can top these cards or keys up at post offices, newsagents or online. You’ll need to speak to your energy provider about changing to this type of meter. Some may do this for free but there could be a charge to consider. However, this initial cost may be worth it to avoid huge bills.
Consider switching energy supplier or tariff
You can avoid costly bills by reducing the amount your energy costs overall. The vast majority of people never switch energy provider and so are missing out on the savings to be had from switching. Use a comparison site to look around and find an energy supplier that provides what you need, for less.
Try to use less energy
Easier said than done but small changes can make a big difference. According to the Energy Saving Trust, you could save £30 a year simply by turning appliances off standby mode, that means switching them off at the wall and not leaving the red light on. You may need to leave devices such as your Wi-Fi or satellite box on but everything else can be turned off when not in use.
Spending less time in the shower – shaving off one minute a day – could also knock £7 off your water bill each year per person in your household. If you think you’re already doing everything you can to keep your energy bills down, think outside the box! Our Good Vibes guide has some unusual but effective suggestions!
Look into benefits and grants available
There are a range of grants and cost-saving benefits schemes available, we’ve listed some of these below. Look into them to determine if you are eligible to save some money when it comes to your energy.
- The Winter Fuel Payment – This is an annual one-off payment of £100 to £300 to cover the cost of heating during the winter and is available to those born on or before the 5th August 1953. Find out more here.
- Warm Home Discount Scheme – This scheme may be available if you are on a low income or receiving the guarantee credit element of Pension Credit. Not all suppliers offer this scheme but if you are eligible and your supplier can help, you could enjoy a saving of £140 on your electricity bill.
- See if your energy supplier offers grants – Certain suppliers provide grants via a charitable trust to help you pay your bills and British Gas, E.on, EDF, npower and Scottish Power offer this.
- Cold Weather Payments – If the average temperature in your area is forecasted to be below zero degrees for seven consecutive days, between November and March, you can apply for Cold Weather Payments which are a one-off payment to help you pay higher bills. Those who receive Income Support, Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Universal Credit or income-related Employment and Support Allowance are eligible to apply.