The cap on energy bills could top a staggering £5,000 next year, according to the bleakest forecast yet for struggling households.
Experts said on Wednesday’s energy prices they expect regulator Ofgem could be forced to set the cap at £5,038 a year for the average household for the three months starting next April.
That’s more than £200 more than previous forecasts, which were already unpalatable, and puts extra pressure on households across the UK.
Auxilione, an energy consultancy, also predicted bills would reach £4,467 in January.
This forecast is likely to be of more concern to energy users than April’s higher number, as households use more gas during the winter months.
As it stands, the nightmare scenario would mean the average household would spend £571 on energy in January.
The price cap on energy bills is calculated based on average household usage. If you use less energy, 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 the current energy price in the wholesale markets. The final price is calculated by tracking the wholesale price over several months.
It is just hours before ministers are due to meet with energy companies to discuss the bleak winter ahead.
Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng are set to press British utilities for a solution to rising bills.
Auxilione said there will be little the companies can do since gas prices are set internationally.
“Today, the UK government has called in the energy companies to try and find a way to lower prices,” he said.
“There seems to be little appreciation of how impossible this task is and no control over it in such a globally influenced market.”
The government announced a broad support package for households in May, when bills were expected to peak at £2,800 at the October price cap.
That limit is now expected to be £3,634, Auxilione said. Campaigners and energy companies have said more support is needed, particularly for society’s most vulnerable customers.
Experts say that by lowering your boiler’s so-called flow temperature and turning off the pre-heat function, you can save hundreds of pounds on prices this winter.
There are guides on how to do these steps online. They only work for homes with combined condensing boilers and no hot water tank.