Written by Josh Jackman Updated on 10 May 2023 ✔ Follow our advice to cut your energy bills by 25% – for free✔ Fixed rate tariffs won't rise before a contract ends✔ You may be able to access grants worth hundreds of poundsFrom 1 October, 22 million households will see their energy bills rise by 6.5%.Then in April 2023, when the government's support runs out, the average annual energy bill will increase to a record-high £2,500 – a 27% rise from current levels.The maximum price of electricity will rise to 34p per kWh, and the maximum price of gas will rise to 10.3p per kWh.Groups from the Labour Party to Enough is Enough called for the government to institute a price cap freeze, which new Prime Minister Liz Truss has put in place – though at a higher level.When the 27% hike comes into effect in April 2023, here are the steps you can take to soften the blow. What’s on this page? 01 Reduce your energy usage 02 Energy bill calculator 03 Access all the grants you can 04 What if I stop paying my energy bills? 05 Will the price cap rise definitely happen? Reduce your energy usageThe best way to prepare for the upcoming price hike is to set your home up to use less energy.However, the ongoing cost of living crisis means millions of households are already struggling financially.In response, we’ve put together a list of recommended free actions which everyone should use if they can, along with some money-saving products for those who are able to buy them.Free actionsIf you take all the free steps we recommend from October 2022 until October 2023, you’ll cut your energy bills by a total of £522, on average.The typical household is set to pay £2,100 in this time period, which means the actions below represent a 25% saving.Free actionTotal savingOct 22–Oct 23Use the dishwasher; don’t wash up by hand£187Turn down thermostat by 1 degree£109Four-minute showers£82Turn off standby£64Wash clothes at 30° and one less wash per week£33Turn off the lights when you leave a room£23Stop printing, go paperless£18Turn off your phone charger at 100%£6The last three actions in this list – turning off lights, going paperless, and turning off your phone charger at 100% – may seem pointless, but together they have an impact.Overall, these three actions will typically save you £47 per year, which is 2.2% of the average home's total energy costs.Does it pale in comparison with the kind of savings we could make as a country by creating a windfall tax on the massive energy companies that are making billions of pounds from this crisis? Absolutely. But it's better than nothing. Products with a price tagIf you can afford to pay any of the prices below, it may be worth investing now to save money this winter.We’ve arranged the products according to their rate of return – that is, how quickly you’ll break even on them.Here are our recommended items, in order from best to worst.ProductCostSaving Oct 22 – Oct 23High-quality thermal curtains£95£327Hot water tank insulation£17£48Roof and loft insulation£530£347A++ double glazing£640£238Cavity wall insulation£1,200£388Pipe insulation£20£4A-rated condensing boiler with a thermostat and thermostatic radiator controls£4,000£518New fridge-freezer£900£64New washing machine£800£59New tumble dryer£700£42The rate of return for the last four products means you usually won’t break even on them.However, given most households will replace their car, fridge-freezer, washing machine, and tumble dryer if they’re able to, this might be an excellent time for an upgrade. Access all the grants you canTake advantage of any and all grants available to you.This price cap rise will be tough for millions of households, and there’s no sense in struggling any more than you have to.Here are all the grants available to domestic consumers between October 2022 and April 2023, along with information on whether you have to apply for them, and how to go about doing that.We’ll start with the grants you’ll get automatically, then move on to the ones you have to apply for.Cost of Living SupportThe government’s Cost of Living Support package is set to reduce all domestic energy bills in England, Scotland, and Wales by £400 between October and April.This grant means the average household will pay £848 for energy in this six-month period, rather than £1,248.You don’t have to do anything to access this money.Direct debit or credit customers will see £66 or £67 enter their account each month, while anyone with a pre-payment meter will see this money applied to their meter, or paid to them with a voucher.The lowest-income households will receive £650 on top of this £400 payment. You’ll qualify if you’re on any of the following means-tested benefits:Child Tax CreditIncome SupportIncome-based Jobseekers AllowanceIncome-related Employment and Support AllowancePension CreditUniversal CreditWorking Tax CreditPensioners will also receive a one-off grant of £300, on top of their annual Winter Fuel Payment. Anyone who’s 66 or above as of 25 September 2022 will qualify.The government is also giving out a £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment, which will be paid to anyone on one of the following benefits:Armed Forces Independence PaymentAttendance AllowanceConstant Attendance AllowanceDisability Living AllowancePersonal Independence PaymentScottish Disability BenefitsWar Pension Mobility SupplementIf you qualify for every Cost of Living Support payment, you should receive £1,500 between October and April, meaning the average qualifying household will receive their energy for free in this period.Warm Home Discount SchemeYou don’t need to apply for this £150 government grant.If you qualify for this money towards your energy bills, the Department for Work and Pensions will tell you in a letter before the end of the year.Cold Weather PaymentThis scheme pays £25 for each period of seven consecutive days where the temperature stays at 0°C or below between the beginning of November and the end of March.You’ll automatically receive this grant if you get any of the following:Income SupportIncome-based Jobseeker’s AllowanceIncome-related Employment and Support AllowancePension CreditSupport for Mortgage InterestUniversal CreditCouncil tax rebateIf you pay council tax in band A, B, C, or D, you’ll qualify for a rebate, which means automatically getting £150 from the council to help pay your energy bills.You should receive this payment regardless of whether you also get a Council Tax Reduction or Disabled Band Reduction, and even if you’re subject to immigration control.The rebate won’t affect any other benefits you receive.If you don’t qualify for this grant, strongly consider contacting your council anyway, to see if they can do anything for you. There are many local grants available throughout the country.Fuel voucherIf you have a prepayment meter or don't use gas or electricity to heat your home, you may be eligible for a fuel voucher.You can get this £49 energy discount up to three times per year.You have to apply to receive this grant. Contact your local council or Citizens Advice to get help with applying for this grant.Energy debt grantsIf at any point you’re in debt to your energy company, the following suppliers offer grants to help their customers:British GasBulbE.ONEDFOctopusOvoScottish PowerIf you’re not with any of these suppliers, contact the British Gas Energy Trust, which gives support to anyone, regardless of which company provides their energy. What if I stop paying my energy bills?If you stop paying your energy bills, your supply may be cut off.Unlike many other nations, the UK doesn’t offer any legal protection that stops energy companies from simply switching off your supply if all other avenues have been exhausted and you’re not in a protected group.If you can’t afford your bills, the best first step is to contact your energy supplier.The company should offer you a more affordable payment plan, which benefits both you and them – after all, it’s better for your supplier that you pay something, rather than nothing.Can my energy supplier really cut me off?Your energy supplier can cut off your energy – but not without trying every other option first, and giving you plenty of time to come up with necessary funds.The situation is worse for customers on a prepayment meter, who will simply stop receiving energy if they fail to top up their meter without contacting their supplier.Other households have more options and protections.Most customers use suppliers that are part of the Vulnerability Commitment, which means they must protect customers who are struggling financially, have a serious mental or physical condition, or have suffered events like the death of a loved one or redundancy.And if you’re a pensioner who either lives alone or only with other people above 66 or under 18, you can’t be cut off between 1 October and 31 March, according to Citizens Advice.If you’re not in any of these groups and you refuse to move onto an alternative payment plan, your supplier can cut you off.Once your energy bill is overdue by 28 days, the company can notify you that it will disconnect your service in seven days. Will the price cap rise definitely happen?The energy price cap will definitely rise – but not to the £3,549 level originally announced by Ofgem for October 2022.The Labour Party and new, rapidly growing campaign group Enough is Enough called for the price cap to be frozen at its current level of £1,971, but the government has chosen to fix it at £2,500 instead.This new rate is still the highest in history, and is 114% higher than the average price cap from its creation in 2018 to April 2022.Despite the government's intervention, this increase will still almost certainly lead to thousands of deaths, as households choose between eating and heating. Written by: Josh Jackman Lead Writer Josh has written about eco-friendly home improvements and climate change for the past four years. His work has been displayed on the front page of the Financial Times, he's been interviewed by BBC One's Rip-Off Britain, and he regularly features in The Telegraph and on BBC Radio.