The websites of major suppliers have gone down (Picture: British Gas)

The websites of numerous major energy suppliers have crashed ahead of the April price hike, customers say.

British Gas, EDF, E.On, Shell Energy, Scottish Power, So Energy, SSE and Octopus Energy were all said to be experiencing problems online earlier today.

British Gas’ website is still showing an error message, while some sites, including EDF, appeared to be functioning for some users.

Meanwhile, E.On appeared to blame Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis for the issues and accused him of ‘bringing down Britain’.

The website problems – which appeared to be industry-wide – come as experts urged householders to submit meter readings for gas and electricity to their supplier on Thursday to show exactly how much energy they have used ahead of Ofgem’s price cap increasing.

Countless customers have been attempting to do so, with the rise expected to cost almost £700 and leave many families huge financial difficulties amid a mounting cost-of-living crisis.

Households will see the biggest rise in the cost of energy in living memory from Friday when bills increase by 54%, to just under £2,000 a year.

The long-feared rise comes as the weather turned cold again, with some areas of the UK being hit by snow.

There was ‘essential maintenance’ on EDF’s site earlier

On what is known as ‘meter reading day’, Martin Lewis urged people not to panic about being unable to submit their reading.

He tweeted: ‘To reiterate again you DON’T need to give a meter reading today if you’re on a fixed deal, or are in Northern Ireland, or anyone else who’s tariff is not on the price cap.

‘And again if on smart/prepay just take pic of your meter, no need to submit.’

Mr Lewis added: ‘The nearer to today you do it the less chance of mis-estimates, so don’t panic about missing it (either through your own or the firm’s issue) just get it in as soon as you can.’

Firms could, in theory, be prevented from estimating usage and charging for energy used before April 1 at the higher rate.

In a now deleted tweet, E.On wrote: ‘Unfortunately the website and phone lines of every supplier are being hammered today. Martin has once again created unprecedented demand bringing down Britain. If you respond to our private message providing the details requested then we can assist you.’

The consumer champion organisation Which? advised consumers: ‘Hearing lots of reports from people struggling to submit meter readings because their energy firm’s website is down.

E.On tried to blame Martin Lewis (Picture: Twitter/E.On)

‘If you can’t submit – take a photo of your meter reading so you can prove when it was taken.

‘Some energy companies also have automated phone lines you can use to submit meter readings, people can also try calling these numbers or emailing if they can’t submit readings online.’

A message on the British Gas website told customers it was facing ‘some technical issues we’re trying to resolve as quickly as possible’.

The message said customers could still submit readings but warned it could take ‘a little time to update your account with the meter reading you provided today’.

EDF Energy’s website also reported problems, apparently as many people tried to submit their meter readings on their account.

The main page of EDF Energy was working, but when customers clicked through to the MyAccount page they were unable to log in.

A message on the page reads: ‘Sorry… We’re carrying out some essential maintenance work on our site. We’ll be up and running again soon.’

But some accused the firms of planning maintenance at a terrible time.

Labour MP Luke Pollard tweeted: ‘Getting a lot of people contacting me saying their energy company’s website is down so they can’t submit meter readings before prices go up by £700 a year tomorrow.

‘Planned maintenance on the last day of cheaper bills looks really, really bad. Needs sorting (out) asap.’

Gillian Cooper, head of energy policy at Citizens Advice, said: ‘We’d recommend sending meter readings to your supplier ahead of the price cap rise on 1 April. This means your energy company will have an accurate picture of your usage before higher rates come in.

‘If you’re struggling to pay your bill, speak to your energy provider as they have to help you. Citizens Advice can also provide you with free, independent support.’

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