However, amid the apparent doom and gloom there was one piece of good news for gas and electric customers.
On the same day that British Gas announced its price hike, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) declared that it would not increase its prices until British Summer Time begins on March 30, 2008.
It's a timely gesture from SSE, which supplies energy as Southern Electric, SWALEC, Atlantic, and Scottish Hydro Electric. While the company is effectively admitting that price hikes are inevitable, it is holding off on their implementation until the winter period is over, thus ensuring that its customers do not have to pay any extra during the months when energy use is typically at its peak.
In addition, the company points out that a dual fuel customer using a standard 20,500kWh of gas a year and 3,300kWh of electric a year and paying quarterly, will now pay out around £175 less a year than a standard British Gas customer.
The gesture is certainly a good piece of PR for the company at a time when gas and electricity providers are under-fire from angry customers. If SSE can position itself as a 'consumer-friendly' company, then it could grasp a sizeable market share.
However, before you all rush to sign-up for an SSE tariff do be aware that there is more to this story than meets the eye.
Firstly, SSE did withdraw its most competitive tariff - its Price Fix 2008 deal - midway through December. So while existing customers are certainly benefiting from the price freeze, the provider is not necessarily the cheapest for new customers.
Furthermore, while SSE points out the merits of its standard tariff compared to a standard British Gas deal, customers should be aware that British Gas's price hikes applied to its standard tariffs only. Therefore, its online Click Energy 4 product is still the most competitive in the market for the average user.
That's not to say that this SSE promise should be ignored. On the contrary, it's a welcome sign that the company actually cares about its customers.
However, if you're looking to move to a new tariff you should still compare the whole market using our