E.ON, EDF Energy, ScottishPower, British Gas, npower and SSE have all announced gas and electricity price rises this winter. We explain how to lower your energy bills.
E.ON is the latest firm to announce a price rise - a 3.7 per cent average increase as of 18 January.
This increase will see annual bills for E.ON's dual fuel customers - who take both gas and electricity from the firm – rise by £48 a year to £1,315 on average.
Decline in energy switching
Despite this, findings from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) show a steep decline in the number of households switching gas and electricity suppliers.
This is a worrying trend at a time when energy suppliers are putting prices up.
In October alone ScottishPower, British Gas, nPower and SSE all announced price rises as the cold winter weather kicked in.
How much are prices going up by?
- EDF Energy has announced a 3.9 per cent average increase as of 3 January, which will see annual bills for dual fuel customers rise by £49 a year to £1,300 on average.
- ScottishPower dual fuel customers - where you take gas and electricity from the same firm - face an 8.6 per cent average price rise, adding £113 to annual bills.
- British Gas dual fuel customers will see prices go up by 9.2 per cent on average from 23 November, raising typical annual bills from £1,321 to £1,444.
- Npower has announced an average rise of 10.4 per cent for duel fuel customers, as of 1 December, taking average annual household bills from £1,323 to £1,459.
- SSE, which also trades as Southern Electric, Swalec and Scottish Hydro, is increasing gas and electricity prices by an average of 8.2 per cent on 15 November, raising annual bills from £1,274 to £1,380.
Act now to beat energy price rises
"As history shows, once one big supplier moves, the others tend to follow," says Kate Rose, head of energy at Confused.com. "This is why you need to act right away."
The best way to fight back against these hikes is by taking action and moving to a new provider.
Edward Davey, energy and climate change secretary, says: "People should take the opportunity now to make sure they are on the best deal available to them."
Switch & save on your energy bills
Some 10 per cent of customers who switched to a dual fuel gas and electricity tariff through Confused.com between April and June 2013 saved more than £350.
Gas and electricity tariffs are either variable, where prices change in line with the cost of energy, or fixed, where prices are guaranteed for a set period of time.
"Fixed tariffs protect consumers against future price rises and so could be the best way to help you beat this latest round of price rises," adds Rose.
Switching is easy and shouldn't mean any disruption to your service: it should only take minutes to find the best deal.
It's also worth noting that you are only changing supplier which means you don't need new wires or pipes.
Find out the top 10 gas and electricity energy myths and arm yourself with the facts before making the switch to a new gas or electricity supplier.
How to switch gas & electricity supplier
- Visit Confused.com to switch gas and electricity. Enter your postcode and details of your current gas and electricity supplier, including the name of your tariff. You should be able to find the name of your tariff on a bill but if not give your current supplier a call and ask.
- You'll be asked to enter your annual spend on your bill, or your annual usage. For the most accurate price comparison, enter your usage. You can find this out by calling your current supplier and asking for your usage for the past 12 months, in kilowatt hours (kWh).
- If you don't know your usage - if you've moved into a new property for example, you'll be asked if you're a low, medium or high energy user. Find out what category you fall into.
- The search results will show you the cheapest deals for dual fuel (gas and electricity from the same supplier), as well as the cheapest deals for gas and electricity separately. It's worth checking out the cost of separate deals as while dual fuel is often cheaper, this is not always the case.
- You're also able to enter how you'd like to pay your bill. It is almost always cheaper to pay by direct debit. Suppliers are happy to offer discounts for customers who pay by direct debit as your payment is guaranteed.
Best deals to switch to
At present, the cheapest fixed gas and electricity deal is the Co-operative Energy's Fixed March 2015 tariff, with an average annual cost of £1,168.
Other fixed deals worth considering include small supplier First Utility's iSave Fixed v12 June 2015 paperless billing tariff, with an average annual cost of £1,178.
Fixing for this length of time will give you both protection and peace of mind against future price rises.
Click the link to view our gas and electricity best buy table which lists the cheapest deals.
First Utility to buck the trend
While none of the big six suppliers have committed to a price freeze, smaller provider First Utility is bucking the trend, and has promised no price increases for the whole of the winter.
"We have taken a decision to fix our prices until after the winter to protect families from feeling the brunt of energy cost increases during the coldest months," says spokesman Ian McCraig.
First Utility has also launched a campaign to speed up the switching process.
Energy debts and money-saving tips
Worryingly, debt charity National Debtline, received a record 15,502 calls from people seeking help with energy debts in the first six months of this year.
This is up 10 per cent on last year, and 111 per cent compared with five years ago.
There are now fears that more and more households could be forced to cut back on their heating this winter.
This makes it more important than ever to check you are on the most competitive tariff – and that you are on the cheapest payment method, such as direct debit, as this will help you keep costs down.
In addition, make sure you're getting all the help you're entitled to.
For example, two million households will get as much as £135 off their bills under the Warm Home Discount, according to DECC.
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