Scots are being urged to submit gas and electricity meter readings ahead of the price cap rise on Friday.
Average energy bills are expected to soar by 54% – or almost £700 – to just under £2000 a year after regulator Ofgem announced last month changes to the maximum amount suppliers can charge customers on standard tariffs.
The new cap – branded the “biggest energy price shock in living memory” – will come into force from April 1.
The regulator said it was forced to hike the energy price cap as gas prices soared to unprecedented highs.
At a glance:
Ofgem’s price cap on default tariffs paid by direct debit will soar by £693 per year from £1277 to a record £1971.
Prepayment customers will see a bigger jump, with their price cap going up by £708, from £1309 to £2017.
Experts are now urging householders to submit their meter readings by the end of Thursday to prevent firms from estimating usage and potentially charging for energy used before April 1 at the higher rate.
Householders should also send regular monthly readings to prevent suppliers from again estimating usage and potentially overcharging as we head into summer and use less heating.
Gillian Cooper, head of energy policy at Citizens Advice, said: “We’d recommend sending meter readings to your supplier ahead of the price cap rise on April 1.
“This means your energy company will have an accurate picture of your usage before higher rates come in.
“Citizens Advice can also provide you with free, independent support.”
Fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) warned the cost of heating an average home has now doubled in 18 months, leaving 6.5 million households unable to live in a warm safe home across the UK.
NEA chief executive Adam Scorer said: “This is the biggest energy price shock in living memory.
“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.
“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.
“This energy crisis is about to bite down hard on those least able to cope. Charities like NEA will try to pick up the pieces for those in greatest need. It will be a near impossible task.
“Last week, the UK Government chose not to prioritise support for those on the lowest incomes. It has crossed its fingers that the market will right itself. This ‘wait and see’ policy could cost lives next winter.”
“If you’re struggling to pay your bill, speak to your energy provider as they have to help you.
An Ofgem spokeswoman said the regulator knows the rise will be “extremely worrying” for many people.
She added: “The energy market has faced a huge challenge due to the unprecedented increase in global gas prices, a once in a 30-year event, and Ofgem’s role as energy regulator is to ensure that, under the price cap, energy companies can only charge a fair price based on the true cost of supplying electricity and gas.
“Ofgem is working to stabilise the market and over the longer term to diversify our sources of energy which will help protect customers from similar price shocks in the future.”