Helping you through Winter

Helping you through winter

Holly Pigache

Throughout 2022, the wholesale cost of gas and electricity has been rising. This means energy suppliers, including So Energy, are now paying more for the energy we buy to supply your home than in previous years.  

We understand that as a customer, you might be concerned about how the increase in the price of wholesale energy affects you and the impact on your Direct Debit payments. Fortunately, there is help at hand to protect you from these rising costs this winter. It is important to us that we keep our customers informed, so here we’ve explained why we’ve changed your Direct Debit, provided a step-by-step guide to our review process and how this helps you build credit on your account for the winter. We’ve also detailed the support we offer, particularly through difficult times.

Why is my fixed Direct Debit changing? 

We don’t take making changes to your Direct Debit payments lightly and the decision to adjust customers’ Direct Debits follows Government announcements about the financial support packages offered to energy consumers. The Energy Price Guarantee caps energy prices for typical households at around £2,500 a year, for the next two years.  

Remember that each household’s actual energy cost will depend on its energy usage and the amount of credit or debt on its account, so your annual bill may be more or less than £2,500. 

We’re adjusting your Direct Debit charges to reflect this new cap. If you have your electricity supply with us, you will continue to receive the £400 discount from the Energy Bills Support Scheme. This is in addition to the Energy Price Guarantee and will be paid over the next 6 months, starting with your October statement. 

How can Direct Debit reviews help me through winter?

If you pay in equal monthly instalments throughout the year, you’ll build up a credit on your account during the summer because you’re likely to use less energy in warmer months. This credit can then be applied to your payments during colder and darker months (when you use more energy), providing financial support in the winter. If you decide to pay seasonally, you’ll pay more in winter (when you use more gas and electricity) and less in summer. 

How do we review your Direct Debit?

Throughout the year, we review your Direct Debit payments to make sure you’re not paying too much or too little for the energy you use. 

Below is our four-step process for reviewing your Direct Debit.

1.       We ask you for meter readings so you pay for what you use 

So Energy customers paying through Direct Debit make regular monthly payments towards the estimated annual cost of their energy usage. If you have a smart meter, there’s no need to submit readings as your meter does this automatically. If you don’t have a smart meter, submitting regular readings helps us learn how much energy you are using so we can make your bills more accurate. It’s easy to submit readings through My Account, where you can also opt into meter read reminders. 

When it’s time for a Direct Debit review, we request readings from you to make sure we have a recent reading of your energy usage. Don’t worry if you forget to submit a reading; we’ll estimate your reading for you.  

To calculate your monthly Direct Debit, we multiply the predicted yearly usage of energy in your home by the unit rate (the cost of each unit of gas or electricity) and add the standing charge (the fixed daily cost to connect your home to the energy grid). Our tariff charges also factor in the cap on gas and electricity unit rates. All customers on our variable tariff, So Flex, and customers on some of our fixed tariffs can use our Energy Price Guarantee Discount Checker to see our projections of the new unit rates and discounted prices. As a guide, we expect: 

·       low energy users to pay less than they do today 

·       typical users to pay about the same as they do today 

·       high users to pay more than they do today but still a lot less than what was previously projected. 

When the Government announces its new energy support package in January 2023, we will once again contact you about upcoming changes to your Direct Debit.  

2.       We acknowledge your account balance

The changes we make to Direct Debit payments may vary between customers because we consider any credit or outstanding charges associated with your account and spread these adjustments over the coming 12 months. From one month to the next, your energy needs may change and you may use more or less energy, depending on the needs of your household. If your account is in debt because you've used more energy than we expected you to use, we make equal adjustments to your payment plan over the upcoming 12 months. This avoids issuing you with a substantial payment request for the energy you have used. Similarly, if you use less energy than we expect, you may have overpaid and might have credit on your account. In this instance, you may be eligible for a refund.

The graph below demonstrates how a household's energy usage fluctuates over a year. Notice how less energy is consumed in warmer, lighter months and more energy is consumed in colder, darker months. The account balance associated with this household also changes throughout the year. Some months the account is in credit and in other months the account is in debt. Your monthly Direct Debit payment is the average cost of energy usage across 12 months, with consideration of the balance on your account.

Grapg DD

Please bear in mind that it's important to build credit on your account during the warmer months (when you’ll probably use less energy) to cover your higher energy usage in the winter. Therefore, refund availability and amount can vary depending on the time of year.  

3.       We only adjust monthly payments

Whether you are on an equal or seasonal payment plan, we will estimate your annual energy usage in the same way. The total estimated cost for the year will be the same, no matter which payment structure your account follows. The Energy Bill Support Scheme discount is available from October 2022 to March 2023 and your payment will be recalculated when the Energy Bills Support Scheme ends in March. Find out more about seasonal payments here.

4.       We adopt the Energy Bill Support Scheme and Energy Price Guarantee

If you have electricity with us, we will include the Energy Bill Support Scheme discount in your October to March bills. The rebate for the first two months is £66, and in the remaining months, the Scheme offers a discount of £67. Find out more about the Energy Bill Support Scheme. Under the Energy Price Guarantee, the annual bills for a typical household will be capped at about £2,500. Please bear in mind that your actual annual costs will depend on how much energy you use so your yearly bill could be greater or smaller than £2,500.  

You can find out more via our Payments Help Centre and we also have some articles accessible from our homepage that you might find useful.