Five of the Big Six energy firms - EDF, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE - have announced steep price increases, along with several smaller suppliers.

But Bulb, one of the so-called 'challenger' brands, has gone against the tide with a 2.5% price reduction that will see the annual cost of its green energy variable rate tariff fall from £910 to £887 for typical users.

Variable rate tariff prices can change at any time, either up or down. Fixed rate tariffs lock in a price per unit of energy for a stated period, usually 12, 24 or 36 months.

Bulb says it is passing on the reduction in wholesale prices that has occurred during the first months of 2017. Other suppliers have blamed rising wholesale costs, along with government levies and social initiatives, for their price hikes.

Hefty increases

Big Six energy firm EDF dismayed consumers in April by announcing a 7.2% increase.

The firm previously announced an electricity price increase (alongside a gas price freeze) in December 2016.

This came prior to price hikes from four of its main rivals - Eon, NPower, Scottish Power and SSE - which followed during the spring.

British Gas has frozen its prices until August 2017.

In its latest blow to customers on its standard variable rate, EDF's electricity prices will rise from 21 June by 9%, with gas prices rising by 5.5% from the same date, giving a combined increase of 7.2%.

This represents a £78-a-year hike for someone on typical usage, bringing their annual energy bill to £1,160.

It's estimated the price increase will impact 1.5 million EDF customers - those on its standard variable rate (SVR) tariff - if they take no action and fail to switch before the hike comes into effect.

The firm is launching a three-year fixed rate tariff priced at £1,155 until April 2020, with free boiler insurance included. 

Tariff costs

Stephen Murray, MoneySuperMarket's energy expert, said: "As these pricing announcements are made, the only figure customers need to pay attention to is the total amount on their bill. Anyone on a Big Six standard tariff will be paying more than they need to, even before the hikes take effect, so they should switch to a fixed rate deal straight away."

Why are prices rising?

Energy firms point to a long-term trend for price rises on international wholesale energy markets.

Energy firms are also blaming rising prices on the increased costs associated with energy distribution across the UK, as well as green and social levies imposed by the government.

Even fixed rate tariffs – where the price per unit of energy is locked in for the duration of the deal – are getting more expensive, making it important to switch and fix as soon as possible.

Switch and fix

For most households, fixed rate deals are still considerably cheaper than variable tariffs, so it makes sense to switch to a cheap fix.

And if you’re on a fixed tariff at the moment, keep a close eye on when it’s due to end and make sure you move to another fix to avoid sliding onto your existing supplier’s standard variable rate.

You will not have to pay any exit penalties in the 49 days running up to the end-date of your fixed tariff.

You can run an energy quote and fix your tariff here.

Here’s a run-down of what we know about price rises across the energy market:

British Gas

The UK’s biggest provider is freezing standard variable tariff prices until August 2017. Its standard variable tariff for average consumption is £1,044 – still £40 more than its own cheapest fixed deal, and over £150 more than the cheapest fixed tariffs on the market.

EDF

EDF announced a 7.2% dual fuel tariff increase on 12 April 2017, comprising 5.5% on gas and 9% on electricity. These take effect on 21 June.

It cut its gas prices by 5.2% in January, but increased the cost of electricity by 8.4% from 1 March. Taking all these changes into account, typical dual fuel tariff customers will now pay 8.5% more over all, at £1,160 a year.

Eon

Eon is increasing prices for dual fuel SVR customers by 8.8% from 26 April. Electricity is up by 13.8%, gas by 3.8%.

Npower

Npower announced a 9.8% increase for dual fuel customers - which equates to £109 a year for a typical household. This kicked in on 16 March.

Scottish Power

Scottish Power announced a 7.8% increase for dual fuel customers from 31 March - around £83 for a typical household.

SSE

SSE is increasing electricity prices by 14.9% on 28 April 2017. This equates to a 6.9% hike for its 2.8 million dual fuel customers.

First Utility

Announced two new tariffs:
First Fixed September 2017 v3 Online
First Fixed September 2017 v4 Full Service

Ovo

Ovo has announced changes to its PAYM Simpler (variable) tariff, with an average increase of £50 per year. Customers who are only on gas tariffs will notice a decrease to their prices, and standing charges will be reduced for both gas and electricity.

Cooperative Energy

Coop increased prices for dual fuel SVR customers by 5% from 1 April.

Extra Energy

Extra Energy’s Fresh Fixed Price tariff will see an increase of more than 40%, an average increase of around £331.59 per year.

By Frankie Sammut

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.