HOUSEHOLDS have been warned energy bills could top £5,000 next year, according to experts.
Regulator Ofgem could be forced to set the cap at £5,038 per year for the average household in the three months beginning next April, experts say.
It is more than £2,500 than previous forecasts, which were already grim, and heaps extra pressure on households across Britain.
Auxilione, an energy consultancy, also predicted that bills would reach £4,467 in January.
As it stands, the nightmare scenario would mean that an average household will spend £571 on energy in the month of January.
The price cap on energy bills is calculated based on average household use.
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If you use less energy, then your bills will be lower.
The latest prediction is that the cost of gas will be capped at 18.02p per kilowatt hour and 70.34p per kWh of electricity.
The new prediction is based on today’s energy price on wholesale markets.
The final price is calculated by tracking the wholesale price over several months.
It comes just hours before ministers are meant to sit down with energy companies to discuss the bleak winter ahead.
In May, the Government announced an energy costs support package – worth £400 per household – in response to predictions that bills would rise to £2,800 for the average household in October.
But there has been criticism that the government isn't doing enough to support families.
Martin Lewis described the price hike as "absolutely catastrophic" and criticised the government for "sitting like zombies" and not taking action.
An Auxilione spokesman said: “It seems there is little appreciation just how impossible that task is and neither have control over this in such a globally-influenced market.”
The new estimates follow a massive billing shake-up announced by Ofgem this week, which will see bills rise more frequently.
Ofgem reviews the energy price cap – which limits how much suppliers can charge customers – every six months.
But last week it announced it will now be reviewed twice as often, meaning bills are likely to soar not just two times, but four times, a year now.
Families are set to find out how much prices will go up by on August 26, with the change coming into force from October 1.
The exact change to the price cap is yet to be decided by the regulator.
The cap limits the per unit price of energy suppliers can charge, and means the typical dual fuel bill is currently £1,971 – though you can pay more or less depending on usage.
How to get help with your energy bills
Unfortunately, there isn't an awful lot you can do to escape rising energy prices.
With the cost of living sky-rocketing and inflation expected to hit 13% by the end of the year, we've all had our purse strings pulled tight, and everyone will be affected.
However, there are always schemes and funds available to support you throughout the price hikes.
For example, there are plenty of energy grants and schemes open to help you out if you're struggling, like the British Gas hardship fund which can lend you up to £1,500 free cash towards bills.
There's also a one-off fuel voucher from your energy supplier if you're on a prepayment metre.
Contact your supplier directly to see what they offer, what the eligibility requirements are, and how much you can get.
If you don't know who your supplier is, you can find out here.
In terms of council funds, the Household Support Fund helps families with the rising cost of living, has been extended.
This help could include cash grants to pay bills or cover food costs – the help will depend on where you live.
For example, residents in Blackpool can get as much as £300, depending on their circumstances.
To find out what support is available in your area, contact your local council.
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If you're a pensioner, there are also extra grants available if you're worried – those on Pension Credit should be eligible for the £650 cost of living payment.
All pensioners should also get an extra £300 payment in November or December to help pay for bills and essentials.
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