Snow falls as UK energy meter computer systems collapse ahead of price hike

Customers being asked to take photos of meter readings to prevent billing errors

Snow has fallen from London to Aberdeen just as the UK braces for a 50 per cent jump in gas and energy prices that has left many fearing they will not be able to pay their bills as costs rise across household spending.

In a bizarre start to spring, temperatures plummeted, more snow is forecast with householders asked to take photos of their gas meter readings to ensure that accurate figures before an April 1 across the board rise in home heating and energy bills.

Warmer weather, which allowed people to turn down the thermostat, has gone into reverse and social media has filled with complaints about the cost of living crisis that has been exacerbated by the Russian war in Ukraine.

Typically, gas and electricity use drops in spring and summer as the warmer weather means people need it less often.

This year, consumers were already dreading the rise in energy costs that will be passed to them in gas and electric bills.

Households will see the biggest rise in the cost of energy in living memory from Friday when average bills increase by 54 per cent, or almost £700, to about £2,000 a year.

Experts have urged householders to submit meter readings for gas and electricity to their supplier on Thursday to show exactly how much energy they have used before Ofgem's price cap increase from April 1.

This will prevent companies from estimating usage and potentially charging for energy used before April 1 at the higher rate.

People are being told to take photos of their gas meter readings. Getty Images

The energy price cap for those on default tariffs who pay by direct debit is rising by £693 from £1,277 to £1,971 from April 1.

Prepayment customers will see a bigger jump, with their price cap going up by £708, from £1,309 to £2,017.

Quote
Millions of people will be priced out of adequate levels of heating and power
Adam Scorer, National Energy Action

The regulator hiked the energy price cap to a record £1,971 for a typical household as gas prices soared to unprecedented highs.

Fuel poverty charity National Energy Action say the cost of heating an average home has doubled in 18 months, leaving 6.5 million households unable to live in a properly warm home across the UK.

“This is the biggest energy price shock in living memory," NEA chief executive Adam Scorer said.

“Millions of people will be priced out of adequate levels of heating and power. For all the anticipation of these price rises, many people on the lowest incomes will be crushed by the reality.

Snow in the Pennines, northern England, and the weather forecast predicts more is on the way. PA

“Quality of life for millions of people will plummet. Warm homes, cooked food, hot water, clean clothes — all cut back or cut out. Debt will spiral. Physical and mental health will suffer.”

On Thursday, some energy websites appeared to falter as customers rushed to submit meter readings before Friday's price increase.

A message on the British Gas website told customers it was facing “some technical issues we're trying to resolve as quickly as possible”.

EDF Energy's website also reported problems, as many people apparently tried to submit their meter readings on their account.

According to Downdetector, the websites of E.ON, Scottish Power, British Gas and SSE have gone down.

More snow, hail and ice is expected in parts of England and Scotland in a sharp change of weather from last week.

“Snow and hail showers could lead to icy surfaces, with possible travel disruption," said a Met Office yellow weather warning for eastern Scotland, north-eastern England and Yorkshire on Thursday. More weather warnings could be issued for Friday morning.

Meteorologist Matty Box said there will be a fair chance of snow in many areas on Thursday night and Friday morning. “It will be concentrated and there will be snow showers,” he said.

Updated: March 31, 2022, 2:27 PM
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