The energy giant has stopped accepting new customers for its Click Energy 5 deal, and the average annual cost for that product has risen from £845 to £1,150. It has also launched a new online tariff, Click Energy 6, which becomes the cheapest deal on the market. The average cost for customers who sign up will be £1,057 a year - £212 more than the old Click Energy 5 price.
Yet despite the substantial increase, British Gas can still claim to offer the cheapest tariff in the UK - Click Energy 6 is marginally cheaper than the npower SOL 13 online tariff, which costs an average of £1,067.
Clearly British Gas has timed its move well. It has adopted a 'wait and see' approach to the market, biding its time for other energy providers to make their move. Now it has been able to hike its prices while still retaining its position at the top - it will be interesting to see if other providers make moves to jostle for position.
So what can customers do? If you're a British Gas Click Energy 5 bill payer, it would be worth contacting the supplier and asking to be moved on to the new Click Energy 6 deal.
For customers who have been holding off over the last few months and waiting for all of the big six energy providers to make their moves, the time to act is now. British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Energy have all hiked their standard and online rates over the last three months meaning that the playing field is as even as it is ever likely to be.
The big question for consumers is whether to move to another variable rate deal or a fixed rate tariff.
Currently the average difference between the leading variable rate deal (Click Energy 6) and the leading fixed rate tariff (Scottish Power's Fixed Price Energy December 2009) is £156 a year, which might make the variable rate deal seem like an obvious choice. However, wholesale gas prices globally continue to rise - with Bulgaria raising its natural gas prices by 23.9% at the turn of the month - and this leads many analysts to believe that there are more price hikes to come. If that's the case, then moving to a fixed rate deal is certainly something to consider.
What's clear is that you must take the opportunity to move if you're currently paying your provider's standard tariff. As the table below illustrates there are several fixed rate tariffs that are actually cheaper than providers' standard rates. If you're happy to move to an online deal you could save as much as £271 by moving from the British Gas standard tariff to its Click Energy 6 deal. So shop around for a cheaper tariff now and ensure you're on a competitive rate.
£1,427.60 Fixed Price 2012
£1,056.86 Click Energy 6
£1,302.48 Price Protector 2010
£1,066.84 Sol 13
£1,229.42 Price Protection 2009
£1,168.93 Monthly Standard
£1,224.43 Fixed Price 2010
£1,110.33 Energy Online Extra Saver 9
Scottish and Southern
£1,129.10 Atlantic Online
£1,212.74 Fixed Price Energy Dec 2009
£1,140.57 Discounted Energy
*Sourced by moneysupermarket.com on September 30, 2008.
How else can you keep costs low?With consumers likely to be paying around £200 a year more than they had budgeted for, even if they move to the cheapest tariff, its clear actions must be taken to reduce energy consumption and cut bills. Here are five money-savers to consider - you can read more in our article ' Energy saving tips':
Invest in insulation - If you're over 70 you qualify for free insulation to be installed in your home and there are grants available for others up to around 50%. Loft insulation can save a household around £155 a year on bills, and costs around £200. Cavity wall insulation meanwhile can cost as little as £150 but save you £130-£160 a year.
Take a shower not a bath - A typical shower uses only a third of the water it takes to fill a bath. If you move to a low power shower you could save even more.
Pick up an Eco Kettle - Eco Kettles cost just £30 and will accurately measure the amount of water you need for each task using around 20% less electricity than a standard kettle.
Draught proofing - Filling gaps to prevent cold air entering your home could save you around £25 a year on energy bills.
Can you Have your say: 'beat the credit crunch' and save as much as some of our other customers? Don't forget to let us know how you get on by posting in our community forum .
Disclaimer: Please note that any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.
Rate This Article
Click on a star to rate this article.