Last year saw massive price hikes from all 'Big Six' suppliers, so while the decision of some companies to slash costs by 5% is welcome, it won't compensate for the increases that have already come into effect.
Big Energy Week is an advice campaign that runs from January 16-21 and is being co-ordinated by Citizens Advice in an attempt to better educate consumers on ways in which they can save on their fuel bills.
It's estimated that around 15million households have never switched energy provider and so are paying more than they need to for their gas and electricity.
Here, we look at why making sure you are on the cheapest tariff possible is so important...
Impact of the price cuts
EDF Energy is cutting the cost of standard gas by 5% with effect from February 7, which will mean an average reduction in bills of around £40 a year. Its 1.4million customers will now pay £1,202 a year on average for standard dual fuel when paying quarterly by cash or cheque.
EDF Energy was already the cheapest standard gas and electricity provider of the 'Big Six' energy companies, having made the smallest increases in last year's round of price hikes.
Ovo Energy also announced a 5% cut last week. Its move brings the annual cost of its 'New Energy Fixed' dual fuel tariff down £56 to £1,059.
British Gas has also announced that its single rate electricity customers are to receive an immediate 5% reduction to their bills, while SSE will be cutting its unit price for household gas by 4.5% from March 26. This will cut a typical gas bill by around £28 per year.
Clare Francis, site editor at MoneySupermarket has suggested that there may be more price cuts to come: "Now four of the 'Big Six' energy companies have made announcements the pressure remains on the rest to also pass on the recent falls in the cost of wholesale energy."
But despite these cuts, and the fact that a number of energy providers have frozen their prices this winter, customers have still had to contend with the autumn price rises that saw gas prices go up by an average of 17.4% while electricity prices rose by an average of 10.8%.
Switch and save
It is therefore vital to ensure you are on the cheapest tariff possible, yet many people don't even know how much they are paying for their gas and electricity.
A recent survey from MoneySupermarket found that more than 40% of respondents said that they had no idea how much their annual energy bills were costing them.
This means that some households could be in for a nasty surprise this winter as this is when homeowners typically use around 40% of their annual energy consumption and those on standard tariffs could face a bill of over £500 for the winter months alone.
But by using MoneySupermarket's online
comparison tool to switch to a better deal, householders can make substantial savings.
Clare Francis said: "Those struggling to make ends meet can make considerable savings by ensuring they're on the best energy tariff for their region and usage. There are average savings of £250 to be had by moving from a standard tariff to the cheapest available product, currently offered by First Utility. Its iSave v9 tariff has average bills of £1,030 per year.
"Consumers should also think about reducing the amount of energy they use and being more energy efficient to help cut reduce the amount they spend on their bills."
Big Energy Week
Although consumers can save money by simply switching provider, the aim of Big Energy Week is to educate people on some of the other ways in which they can save on their energy bills.
Events highlighting practical ways to save money will be taking place up and down the country and will be supported by a leaflet campaign as well as the
Big Energy Week website .
Scott Byrom, energy manager at MoneySupermarket said: "Consumers need all the help and advice possible to enable them to make positive changes towards their energy consumption and take action to cut the cost of their bills.
"The entire energy industry needs to work together to help all consumers, especially the most vulnerable, and while work has been done to date, there is still a long way to go. Initiatives like Big Energy Week are crucial to really up the ante and encourage people to save money and get the best possible deal on their gas and electricity."
How to save on fuel bills
Although switching energy provider is a simple and effective way to cut the cost of your fuel bills there are a number of other ways in which you can save money, perhaps the most obvious of these being by simply using less energy.
You could also consider generating your own electricity by installing solar panels as they can produce around 50% of a household's annual electricity requirements.
Although the average system will cost around £12,000 to install, it can actually make you money as well as saving it. This is because any excess energy that you produce can often be sold back to energy companies via a feed-in tariff.
This means you could be £1,170 better off each year through a combination of savings and income.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.
Last updated: 16/01/2012
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