Big increases for energy and petrol

September is the month when we should think seriously about the cost of heating and lighting our homes as nights draw in and the days are cooler. 

There is yet another strong prompt in the form of a 12% increase in energy bills for 11 million households from October 1.

The price cap on standard variable tariffs is going up to an average £1,277 from October 1.  Ofgem allows this increase because the energy companies have persuaded the regulator that wholesale prices have risen massively, even though many of the companies we pay for our gas and electricity buy their supplies from related companies, which make massive profits. The retail companies have piled in to charge as much as they could from day one.  Ovo Energy, the UK’s second largest energy supplier increased its tariff by 12.25% to an average of £1,276.49 – just 51p short of the limit.

It makes it all the more important for everyone to check if they can get a cheaper deal through signing up for a fixed price deal using an energy switching site such as ,, or

These usually run for 12 to 24 months and can save hundreds of pounds a year – although the savings are lower now than they were a year or so ago.  But the cost cannot increase during the term of the contract and as soon as the tariffs arrive the cheap fixes will become more expensive.

The cap is confusing, though as the new tariff is for average use and most of us find we use more.  It is worth checking the meters to see how much you are using and working out which pieces of kit are the most expensive to use and to use them less or more efficiently.

Meanwhile drivers of older cars face paying an extra £100 a year for fuel for “greener” petrol.  This was introduced at the beginning of September.

Owners of up to 700,000 cars will have to switch to premium unleaded because of changes to standard grade fuel.  

It is blended with 10% bioethanol, which is made from materials such as waste wood and crops to cut greenhouse emissions. 

Owners of older cars are advised against using the E10 petrol because it could damage seals, metals and plastics in engines if used over a long period.

Super unleaded costs as much as145.5p compared to standard petrol at 135.4p per litre.  This means an extra £5.55 per tank.

Some 2010 cars will not be able to use the new petrol. These include Vauxhall, Fiat and Alfa Romeo. Lawn mowers may also be damaged by the E10 petrol.

Anyone with a pre-2010 car can check on website to find out if they need to pay more to motor without causing damage. But experts saying the wrong petrol by mistake once or twice should not cost permanent damage.