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Fix or cap? Dodge higher gas and electricity bills

Thermostat control with pound signFirst Scottish Power announced energy price rises, now British Gas has all but confirmed it will be next to follow suit. So how can you avoid getting stung by a bill increase?

Gas and electricity prices have hit the headlines again this week with British Gas hinting that bills will rise for their customers in the near future.

Speaking at the House of Commons Energy Select Committee on 29 June, Ian Peters, British Gas's chief operating officer, said: “Unless there is a fundamental shift in the way the commodity markets are going to play out in the next few weeks then, on the balance of probability, we will reluctantly put the price up.”

Peters added, however: “I’m not going to get drawn into precisely when or how,” – leaving consumers in the dark.

Rumours of price rises across the board have been rife since last month when energy regulator, Ofgem, confirmed that wholesale energy costs have risen by 30 per cent since December.

And on 7 June, Scottish Power lead the way, announcing a price rise of 19 per cent for gas and a 10 per cent for electricity, which will take effect from 1 August.

The Scottish Power rise will affect 2.4 million households and will add around £175 per year to the bill of a dual-fuel customer. (See related news story.) Industry experts predicted that the other suppliers, which make up the UK’s “big six” would follow suit and it now looks as though British Gas, which has nearly 16 million customers, could be next in line.

Switch and avoid higher bills

Confused.com’s energy expert Lisa Greenfield said: “We’ve been waiting for prices to jump among the other providers over the last few weeks, since Scottish Power’s announcement. And we’re expecting it will happen within the next month after British Gas dropped the clearest hint yet.”

But Greenfield says households can avoid getting stung by more expensive bills if they act now.

“One way to beat the rise is to switch to a fixed or a capped deal; although typically you would expect to be charged a premium for fixing your prices, if you’re on a standard tariff there are still savings to be made, especially with so much uncertainty surrounding price rises.

“With a fixed or capped deal you’re protected from price rises, which means you won’t have to bother switching again if other providers raise their standard tariff rates any time soon.”

Fixed tariffs fix the unit price (also known as the kilowatt hour or kWh price) of your gas and electricity for a set period of time.

Capped tariffs allow the unit price to fluctuate but it won’t rise above a certain level – the cap – for a set period of time.

The cheapest deals

We’ve got the latest deals on the market for fixed and capped tariffs so you can compare providers and see which is offering the cheapest energy deal in your area.

Gas and electricity best buy fixed and capped tariffs
SupplierTariffAverage UK bill
EDF Fixed Saver V2 £1,009
npower Go Fix 6 £1,014
OVO Energy New Energy Fixed £1,050
Eon Fixed price 5 £1,126
Scottish&Southern Price Fix 6 £1,142
Scottish Power Platinum Fixed Energy January 2014 Online NSC £1,202



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Lois Avery

Lois Avery

Lois joined Confused.com in 2010 after working for Dyson and as a local newspaper reporter in Wiltshire. After a year writing financial journalism at Confused.com, Lois won the 2011 'most promising newcomer' at the BIBA journalist of the year awards.

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