Finance

New energy bill? ‘Variable contract is your best option’

Those who have fixed their tariffs for a few years are the only ones who are now unaffected by the high energy prices.

Shortage on the household balance sheet

“But do check when your contract ends,” says Joyce Donat of the Consumers’ Association. A lot of people don’t really know that. And after an annual settlement, it may just be that it automatically switches to variable rates.

Anyone who switches to another contract will in any case pay more. Money information officer Nibud calculated that a single person on social assistance soon falls short of 71 euros in the household balance. With a family that earns twice the average, the bill increases by 54 euros per month.”

The rising energy bill hurts many. And it is not yet possible to say with certainty whether the subsidy that the government is making is sufficient to help everyone. “How it will look in your wallet still depends on the policy,” said Gabriella Bettonville, spokesperson for Nibud. That is still being formed.

Another energy contract

Developments in the energy market also remain uncertain. Gas prices in particular are going through the roof at the moment. The buffers are limited, while the demand remains high. If it is a cold winter and we work more at home, the price can rise further.

Anyone who chooses a different energy contract is usually advised to fix the rates for at least a year. That is generally cheaper than a variable contract that you can cancel monthly. “But right now the prices are pretty much the same,” says Donat. Given the situation, the association now advises consumers to go for the latter option.

We don’t know exactly what prices will do, or how cold it will be in the coming months. “With a variable contract you can switch quickly,” says Donat. “We are also currently seeing a downward trend in energy prices. They are still high, but have already dropped slightly.”

Keep an eye on the prices yourself

If the prices drop further, it is nice if you can switch quickly. So variable. The disadvantage: you have to keep a close eye on that yourself. “The market remains tricky, it is also possible that prices will rise again,” warns Donat.

Incidentally, according to the union, it makes little sense to adjust your monthly rate upwards. “That rate is based on your usage,” says Donat. The rates, which change on January 1, for example, are recorded therein. Adjustment would therefore not necessarily be necessary, unless your consumption changes.

Caution is necessary when switching, according to the consumer organization. If a party is currently offering rates that are too good to be true, then you should scratch your head. “Sometimes it’s a means for smaller players to lure customers.”

And it is precisely those smaller players that are vulnerable, as witnessed by the bankrupt Welcome Energy. Customers were forced to switch to Eneco at much higher rates. At such a moment, there is little you can do but go along, says Donat.

Ring the bell in time

There are many households that can handle the rising prices, Nibud knows. But there is also a group that cannot handle that, as witnessed by the calculation above. The cabinet is still working on compensation for that group. Meanwhile, Nibud advises people to ring the bell in time if you can’t figure it out.

“Not being able to get by is a broader problem than just the energy bill. The money is all over the place,” Betonville said. “You have to act quickly, contact your energy supplier and, for example, see what the options are for deferring payment.”

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