Energy bills latest - Npower hikes variable rate

Npower is the latest energy firm to announce a price hike - we expect others to follow.

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Npower - one of the UK's 'Big Six' energy firms - is increasing prices for its standard variable rate customers from 16 March.

Electricity prices will rise by 15% (including a £55 increase in the standing charge), while gas prices will go up by 4.8%.

This equates to a 9.8% bill hike for a typical dual fuel (gas and electricity) customer, which is around £109 a year.

It's estimated that the price increase will impact 50% of Npower's three million customers - those on a standard variable rate tariff. The remainder are on fixed rate deals, which will not see a price rise.

Air of inevitability

Stephen Murray, MoneySuperMarket's energy expert, said: "Coming on the heels of EDF Energy's announcement of a price rise effective on 1 March, the Npower announcement gives the likelihood of price increases from other Big Six firms an air of inevitability.

"This Npower rise will be a significant dent to customers' wallets. Standard customers continue to pay over the odds for their gas and electricity, and whether you're an Npower customers or with any other supplier on a standard tariff, the message is and has been clear for a while: switch tariff to a cheaper fixed deal and take control of your energy bills."

Seasonal increases

The current round of price hikes is partly seasonal – we use more energy in the winter, so the cost tends to goes up – and partly to do with a long-term trend for price rises on international markets.

Rising wholesale prices claimed a major casualty in December when GB Energy collapsed (its business was taken over by Co-op Energy).

Other firms are keen to put their prices up, and increases are in the pipeline for customers on standard variable rate tariffs.

And fixed rate tariffs – where the price per unit of energy is locked in for the duration of the deal – are getting more expensive.

Switch and fix

That said, 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 exist penalties in the 42 days 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 March 2018. Its standard variable tariff for average consumption is £1,044 – still £40 more than its cheapest fixed deal.

EDF

EDF cut its gas prices by 5.2% in January, but it will increase the cost of electricity by 8.4% from 1 March. Typical dual fuel tariffs will pay 1.2% more over all, up to £1,082.

Good Energy

Freezing prices on their standard variable tariff until March 2017.

Eon

Eon is freezing its standard tariff prices for this winter.

Npower

Npower has announced a 9.8% increase for dual fuel customers - which equates to £109 a year for a typical household.

Scottish Power

We’ve yet to hear a pricing announcement from Scottish Power.

SSE

SSE is freezing its standard tariff prices until April 2017.

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

We’ve yet to hear a pricing announcement from the Coop.

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.

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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