8.5m to see energy price hike of 6%
As a result, annual dual fuel bills for British Gas customers with average consumption will increase by around £80.
British Gas says this increase is necessary as it is facing rising wholesale prices, as well as higher costs to upgrade the national grid, and to deliver the government’s policies for a clean, energy-efficient Britain.
Scott Byrom, energy expert at MoneySupermarket, said: “As expected, it was only a matter of time before the Big Six domino effect gained pace, with British Gas becoming the second energy company to increase the cost of bills for its customers – unwelcome news for cash strapped Brits just as we head into the winter months.”
It is estimated that the average annual bill for British Gas customers will now stand at £1,318.
It is predicted that the rest of the UK’s ‘Big Six’ energy providers will follow suit, leaving E.ON as the only energy provider that has pledged not to increase prices during 2012, although MoneySupermarket still expects an announcement from them in the near future.
This comes as Southern Energy’s price hike starts this Monday, another ‘Big Six’ provider to introduce a price hike.
Byrom said: “It’s a bleak outlook for those already stretched to their affordability tipping point. Unfortunately, a round of price hikes now means bills increase just in time for the more costly Winter months when energy usage is at its highest.”
A recent MoneySupermarket.com poll found over half of bill payers would look to switch energy providers to a cheaper deal as a result of current price hikes.
Byrom advised: “Anyone hoping to keep their energy bills low in this volatile energy market should opt for the best value fixed price tariffs. Scottish Power is offering its Online Fixed Price Energy tariff for £1,139.98, which represents a maximum saving of £214.22 if compared to the most expensive tariff available.
“Additionally, EDF Energy has a good fixed deal, called the Blue+ Price Promise. While it’s a slightly more expensive than the Scottish Power fixed tariff, the price is fixed for a month longer – until May 2014, versus April 2014 for the Scottish Power fixed tariff.”
Households are also being urged by the Citizens Advice bureau to check whether or not they are eligible for help with their energy bills, as part of the government’s Warm Front scheme, installations of insulation and heating measures for people on certain disability or income-related benefits are free.