Octopus Energy has launched a nifty new tool which tells you just how much your bills could shift after changing your direct debit.
It allows you to see how increasing or decreasing your monthly direct debits will affect your account balance overall.
More than half of consumers pay their energy bills by direct debit, according to energy regulator Ofgem.
Paying monthly by direct debit means you pay the same each month even though your actual usage can vary, and is usually higher in winter and lower in summer.
Many energy customers have complained of higher direct debits despite using less renewable energy in the warmer months.
Now Octopus has created a balance forecast tool. It works out what your overall balance will be based on different monthly direct debit amounts.
It also explains why the company sets the direct debits it does.
The tool is only available to certain Octopus Energy customers – you won’t be able to use it if you have a different supplier.
The following Octopus Energy customers won’t be able to use the tool yet: you have a smart tariff, you don’t pay monthly by direct debit, or you switched tariffs recently.
Those who can use it can find it when they log into their account online.
You can enter an amount for a monthly payments and it will give you a rough price for what your account balance will look like overall – and whether you can expect to be in a credit or debit.
Greg Jackson, Octopus Energy CEO, called for tools like this to become industry standard.
He said: “Our customers find this really useful.
“It’s often hard to understand if your direct debit is set correctly when energy use varies so much from winter to summer.
“All companies should do this – it makes energy less confusing and puts customers in control.”
Pete Miller, creative director and head of customer experience, added: “Customers understanding their bills in more detail is another step in making this energy crisis a bit more manageable.”
One Octopus Energy customer took to Twitter to share his fondness for the company’s latest feature.
He said: “Really like this balance forecast tool @OctopusEnergy have.
“When they asked to raise our direct debit (from £92pcm) I was initially horrified.
“But by showing it visually, I realise that it’s a necessary evil.”
But other customers have pointed out some flaws in the tool.
One user said on Twitter the tool was “good”, but didn’t take into account the £400 energy bill grant which around eight million families are due to get in the Autumn.
Octopus Energy replied: “It’s super early days but we’re still tweaking and adding things that’d be useful so will definitely think about this.”
Meanwhile, another user mentioned the predicted rising energy price cap later this year, saying: “Does it build in any assumptions on October rate price rise?”
Octopus Energy replied: “We’re still making changes and adding things that’d be useful so will definitely bear this in mind.”
It comes after a warning bills could go up another £1k this winter.
Martin Lewis said more than 20million households which are on default tariffs could see the increase in October.
The energy price cap is set by Ofgem twice a year and limits the per unit price of energy suppliers can charge.
The typical dual fuel bill is £1,971 but this number can change depending on usage.
However, Martin said experts at Cornwall Insights, calculate bills could go up by around £1,000 later this year instead of electricity bills.