Bulb preps prepay energy customers for coronavirus impact
With the spread of coronavirus being the focus of everyone’s attention these days, companies are stepping in to help their customers deal with the impact. Bulb has set out clear guidelines for prepay customers who need to prepare for the social distancing and economic contingencies caused by the health crisis. If you have a prepay meter, what should you do to ensure you are consistently topped up through any restrictions the British government puts in place?
It is important to make sure you check official sources like the UK government and the World Health Organisation to ensure you get the most accurate and updated information regarding the developing situation.
Selectra shares Bulb’s advice and analyses the pros and cons of prepay meters. We also look at other options on the market and how these could save you and your family money as well as the hassle of leaving the house every time you want to top-up your energy.
Bulb advice for prepay customers during the coronavirus crisis
No one wants to dwell on worst-case scenarios but it’s essential that prepay customers have a plan in these turbulent times where the coronavirus situation calls for people being well-informed. With the UK already facing self-quarantine in some cases and the number of people catching the new coronavirus increasing, it’s time to act.
If the UK heads into lockdown will you have enough electricity and gas to see you through? Will this period last two weeks or longer and will the shops stay open that you need to buy credit from? It would be devastating to stock up on your food if you weren’t able to cook it.
Bulb has released coronavirus advice for all members who have a top-up (prepay) meter. These are the steps you need to take to make sure you are covered in the event that you fall sick or need to self-isolate. Remember, it’s a good idea to follow these rules in general.
- Top up your energy meter more than you usually would in order to be better prepared.
- Write out a list of anyone that lives nearby who could help you top up your key or card, including friends, family and neighbours.
- If your meter box is located outside, leave it unlocked (if safe to do so) in case someone has to top it up for you.
- Have Bulb contact details on hand.
This is really useful advice from Bulb coming out at a very important time. Bulb has also taken the positive step of allowing its team to work remotely. Many companies have started implementing this action to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus and keep their staff, and others, safe.
Will switching from a key/card prepayment meter help?
Yes, it will. There are a number of benefits that switching can offer you, especially if you are eventually stuck in your house. Your options are to swap to a smart prepayment meter or a standard meter.
Both of these can be preferable for a number of reasons. Here are some of the most important factors on why you should consider doing this sooner rather than later:
- If you have a smart prepayment meter or standard meter, you don't need to go to the shops to add credit to your meter. This saves you the risk that you could run out, as well as being more comfortable topping up from the comfort of your own home.
- You won’t have to handle prepayment cards or keys. At a time when contamination is a growing concern, reducing the number of objects that could be contaminated is desirable.
- If you can switch to a standard meter you can make direct debit payments. This means that you will then be able to pay for your household energy consumption and submit meter readings entirely online.
The general downside of prepay meters
Many families battling fuel poverty are already negatively impacted by prepay meters, coronavirus notwithstanding. These households, in particular, should have the best tariff and fuel system available to them in order to help alleviate this issue.
The main reasons why prepayment meters are a disadvantage include:
- Energy Pay As You Go customers pay the highest prices. For this reason, it is usually better for these customers to find a better tariff or swap to a smart or standard meter, if possible.
- It is generally vulnerable households that are saddled with a prepayment meter. For these families, it is essential that they save money wherever possible. There are many good initiatives being run in the UK to help this cause. However, if customers can, switching from a prepay meter could help drastically.
Now, on top of the existing challenges of fuel poverty, these customers could be even more vulnerable to the coronavirus due to the need to top up in shops. As we mentioned earlier, it’s best to have a plan in case shops do close or you can’t leave your house, aside from any solution Bulb or other energy providers come up with since it could take time to implement.