British Gas joins price hike stampede

We knew it wouldn’t take long! British Gas, Britain’s biggest energy supplier is hiking gas and electricity prices by an average of 9.2% – 8.4% on gas and 10.4% on electricity – for 7.8 million customers on its standard tariffs.

The increase, which takes effect on from November 23, comes hot on the heels of SSE’s 8.2% price rise, announced last week. The price rise means that the average annual dual fuel bill for British Gas customers, assuming seasonally normal temperatures, will rise by £148 from £1,321 to £1,471.

Bitter pill

Clare Francis, editor-in-chief at MoneySuperMarket, said: “It was only a matter of time before British Gas dealt the blow to its customers and announced price increases. The UK’s biggest energy company had warned that prices would have to rise but the news that 7.8 million customers will see their annual bills jump by £148 just as temperatures are plummeting will be a bitter pill for them to swallow.

“And it won’t stop there. We can expect the other four major providers – EDF, e.on, npower and Scottish Power – to also announce price hikes over the coming weeks. But the good news is there are things people can do to beat the price hikes and encouragingly the early signs are that many of them are taking action.

“We saw a 1090% increase in visitors to our energy channel after SSE’s price increase announcement prompted people to switch to a better deal.

“If you haven’t switched already, it’s not too late. It takes just five minutes to compare energy deals and all you need is to be armed with your latest bill, once you have chosen a new tariff the energy company will take care of the rest.

Fix to save

“Fixing your energy bills will protect you from price rises in the future, with many providers promising to fix your prices for the next four winters. EDF Energy Blue+ Price Freeeeze for example, guarantees your prices until March 2017. With an average bill of £1,340 it will be £131 cheaper than the average standard bill from British Gas once the price rise takes effect.

“Help someone who isn’t online as well, such as an elderly relative, to ensure they will benefit from any savings too as many older bill payers will consume a higher amount of energy than most, leaving them the hardest hit this winter.

“Households can take further steps to keep their energy prices down, simple changes such as doing washing at 30 degrees and turning appliances off opposed to leaving them on standby, can result in some significant savings over the year. Keeping your supplier up to date with regular meter readings can also ensure that you receive an accurate bill for the energy you have consumed.”

British Gas blamed its increases on higher wholesale energy prices on international markets, rising distribution costs and the cost of meeting its statutory green energy obligations.

Consumer power

Clare Francis added: “The Labour Party has promised to freeze energy prices from 2015 to 2017 if it wins the next General Election – something the Conservatives have dismissed as a gimmick. But regardless of the political wrangling, consumers have it in their power to fix prices today.”

For more information and tips on how you can minimise your energy bills, visit our energy hub.

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

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