However, there are ways to beat rising bills - research from reveals you could save as much as £234.52 a year by switching from the average standard dual fuel tariff to the best average online tariff.

This latest increase compounds the misery for consumers. Around 2.5 million Scottish Power customers will be hit by the price rises, adding an average of £54 to their annual bill. This is in addition to the 10.5 million British Gas and SSE customers  also facing price hikes. So far, only EDF Energy has bucked the trend of rising prices, pldeging to freeze standard tariff gas and electricity costs until March 2011.

Scott Byrom, energy manager at said: "Four down, two to go!  As the mercury drops, energy bills are on the up and the next provider to maximise on the cold weather and increased energy usage is Scottish Power."

"Following hikes from both SSE and British Gas, and now Scottish Power, it’s only a matter of time before we see a move from the remaining two big players; npower and E.ON. Price hikes are a bitter pill to swallow for hard pressed bill payers."

“We urged people to ‘fix’ their energy bills back in the summer to ride out all these price rises, but if you missed out then it’s still not too late. You’ll pay slightly more that you would have if you’d locked in then, but OVO Energy’s fixed tariff (at £993 a year for the average household) is cheaper than a standard tariff so you can still save money. Fixing now will ensure any future price increases will pass you by, and most importantly won't hit your wallet as hard during these cold, and more costly, winter months. For those who don't want to be locked into a fixed deal, the Online Saver V7 product from EDF Energy has average annual bills of £867 and is the cheapest deal on the market offering some Scottish Power customers a potential 36 per cent price cut to their annual bills."

Switch and save

Switching energy suppliers can take between four and eight weeks, so you need to take action now.

Those looking for the security of a fixed tariff should look at the New Energy Fixed tariff from OVO Energy at £993 a year which offers fixed rates for 12-months from the date of sign-up. Alternatively, those looking for the cheapest variable deal on the market should consider the Online Saver V7 tariff from EDF Energy at £867 a year.

With prices continuing to increase, locking into a fixed-rate deal will provide peace of mind that your bills won't change over the year.

And while the best online deals may be slightly cheaper than fixed deals at the moment, they could end up being much more expensive if further price hikes hit.

As well as Ovo's fixed tariff, other competitive fixed deals available at the moment include Scottish & Southern Energy's Atlantic Fixed Price 3 tariff, which would cost a typical gas and electricity user £1,016 over the year, or EDF Energy's Annual Fix v3 tariff. This deal would cost a typical dual fuel customer £1,099 a year.

Remember that suppliers often pull their best fixed deals when prices start rising so don't hang around if you want to lock in. And whichever deal you choose, you should make sure you pay by direct debit as suppliers usually offer discounts to those customers who pay this way.

Use's energy calculator to find the best deal.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.