Why are energy bills going up and what can we do about it?

Millions of people face fuel poverty, as energy bills are set to rise yet again. Here's how we can help those in need, tackle climate change and stop this from happening in the future.


The cost of living crisis gained more and more news coverage in 2022, when energy prices began soaring to record levels. But for millions of people, this is much more than a news story. It’s the devastating reality of having to choose between heating or eating – or worse.

Here’s what you need to know about the energy price cap and UK bill increases. And how we can lower energy bills and tackle climate change at the same time.

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What is the energy price cap?

The energy price cap sets the maximum a household will pay for each unit of energy. It’s set by the energy regulator Ofgem and reviewed every three months.

The price cap has gone up over the last few years but in the latest announcement it’s going down. However the reason bills are increasing is because government support for bills is reducing. Meaning while Ofgem’s price cap is going down, our bills are going up.

Already we’re paying double what we were this time last year, and now our bills are due to go up once again.

How many people will bill increases affect?

The price rise will hit people up and down the country when their bills go up on the 1 April. Before the price rise, almost a quarter of the country (7 million households) faced fuel poverty. The latest change is estimated to add 8.6 million households to that, as bills rise to an average of £3000 per year.

Why are energy bills so high?

Before the war in Ukraine, there was already a gas price crisis because of a rise in global gas prices. The UK is one of the most gas-dependent countries in Europe. This means sudden price spikes can easily throw us into a crisis.This is due to:

Then Russia invaded Ukraine. This tragedy has caused huge suffering and cost thousands of lives, and thrown global politics and systems into a frenzy.

This all caused gas prices to skyrocket, especially across Europe (including the UK) because a lot of gas used to flow here from Russia.

Now fossil fuel companies are raking in record-breaking profits. Their latest profit announcements were the highest we’ve ever seen – while many people are struggling with eye-wateringly high energy bills.

The government hasn’t properly taxed fossil fuel companies. That, along with their failure to invest in renewables and energy efficiency, mean we’re not protected from price shocks and the climate crisis.

How can the government help people with energy costs?

There is help available if you’re worried about paying your next energy bill. But the quickest and cheapest way the government can help people lower their bills and tackle climate change is to invest in energy efficiency measures (like insulation and heat pumps) as soon as possible.

We have the coldest and worst insulated homes in Western Europe – 19 million homes are poorly insulated. This means it’s very likely that you (and your community) have to use more energy to keep your home warm.

The government had long-standing legal targets set in 2014 to insulate as many homes as they reasonably can to an EPC C standard to prevent fuel poverty. But they’re failing spectacularly – so much so Greenpeace are threatening them with legal action. By not investing in insulation, the government is costing the country money and fuelling the climate crisis.

How much could your bills be?

Some people could save hundreds with a properly upgraded home. We know insulation and heat pumps aren't always the easiest (or most interesting) topic to understand, but it’s vital to lower bills and get off fossil fuels.

That’s why we’ve partnered with Cambridge Econometrics – the economics consultancy working on challenges facing economies, societies and the natural environment – to make the ‘Affordable Energy Calculator’. In just 2 minutes, you can find out how much you could save with a properly insulated home.

Find out how much you could save

How do we avoid a future energy crisis?

Cutting back on energy efficiency schemes in the past has cost us money, adding £2.5bn to current UK energy bills. But it doesn’t need to be this way.

A study by Cambridge Econometrics found that energy-saving measures could boost the UK economy by £7 billion a year. And other analysis says, at the high prices we’ve seen recently, the Treasury could break even on insulating millions of homes before the next election.

Our longer-term energy solutions are:

  • Insulate buildings so people need less energy to keep warm at home.
  • Switch to clean electric heating so we can use renewable energy rather than gas to heat our homes.
  • Expand renewable energy, like wind and solar. Renewables are currently 5.5x cheaper than fossil fuels. They can provide alternative sources of energy that won’t cost a fortune.
  • Secure a just transition for workers in polluting industries, so there are good well-paid jobs for people to move into.

These would protect us from future energy crises, keep our homes warmer, lower energy bills, and help tackle the climate crisis.

What can the government do now to secure our energy needs and tackle climate change?

To start, we need the government to implement a nationwide insulation programme before the next general election. This should commit £5.3 billion on home insulation and £3.37 billion on support for heat pumps. The Climate Change Committee says we’ll need £55 billion in total to insulate all homes in the UK by 2050.

Relying on fossil fuels will only keep us at risk of price shocks. So the government also needs to invest more in wind and solar to reduce our fossil fuel reliance. This can be done quicker than exploring, drilling and refining more fossil fuels. New oil and gas licenses take years to come online and won’t even lower energy bills, because of the way the global energy market works.

This is the moment to tackle the UK’s energy security and climate change. Starting with an urgent national programme of home insulation, so our homes need less energy to heat. And swapping from gas boilers to heat pumps so our homes can use cleaner and cheaper renewable energy.

It’s time to stop energy bill increases and our overreliance on oil and gas. Solving the climate crisis can fix our immediate, everyday problems too.

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