With Autumn now fast approaching, many of us will be starting to think about the onset of colder weather and rising energy costs. This has been heightened by the news that the UK energy price cap will be raised to its highest level in October, meaning millions of households face a rise in their bills of at least £139 a year.

When the price cap was introduced it was hailed as a shield for customers to stop energy companies charging sky-high prices. The cap, set twice a year by the energy regulator Ofgem, affects 11 million households in England, Wales and Scotland who have never switched suppliers or whose discounted deals have expired. Northern Ireland sets its own cap.

That accounts for around half of all UK households. Around four million prepayment meter customers, who already pay the most for their energy, will also be affected. The rest are on so-called fixed deals, which will not be affected by the rise.

The cap sets the prices that suppliers can charge for each unit of energy, but that does not mean there is a limit to how much people can pay. The more gas and electricity you use, the higher your bill.

This makes it a great time for consumers who have never switched or whose deals have expired to shop around for the best deal ahead of the price cap rise. Home Energy Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland, local citizens advice bureaux, Age Scotland and many other organisations can provide useful advice and assistance with switching suppliers and other measures to cut energy bills.

Find out more about the advice and support available at www.homeenergyscotland.org or 0808 808 2282.

The impending increase in bills also highlights the importance of the Scottish Government stepping up efforts to support the implementation of energy efficiency measures in homes, especially for those already in or at risk of falling into fuel poverty.