Scott Byrom, energy channel manager at moneysupermarket.com said: "The energy price rises we've been expecting for months have finally arrived. Scottish Power is the first energy company to announce huge increases to the cost of their standard gas and electricity, with rises of 19% and 10% respectively. These price rises will affect 2.4 million households. On a national scale this adds an extra £420 million to Scottish Power customers' annual bills.
"A recent moneysupermarket.com survey showed 30% of Brits would only need to see their outgoings increase by less than £100 a month before it became impossible to meet every day living costs. The same research found 19% of people felt the rising cost of paying utility bills such as heating was causing the biggest strain on their finances. With an increase of this size in one fell swoop, UK consumers could soon find themselves in hot water when faced with energy bills they may not be able to afford.”
If you want to protect yourself from price increases you should sign up to a fixed deal as soon as possible - but don’t delay as the best deals are likely to disappear fast.
Aren’t fixed rate deals expensive?
Fixed deals are currently cheaper than most standard tariffs, but not as cheap as the best online deals, so you do pay a price for the extra security.
However, paying a bit more each month now will pay off in future if energy prices continue to rise, and you can protect yourself for a year or more.
If you are already signed up to an energy deal that is due to end in the next few weeks, start thinking what you will do next as soon as possible – or you could face a nasty bill shock when your current deal ends.
Switching can take anything from four weeks to much longer, so people on tariffs ending at the end of June will need to look into alternative deals as soon as possible.
For example, npower’s Sign Online 18 deal ends on June 30. A typical gas and electricity user on this deal would currently be paying £851, but when the fixed rate period finishes, if they moved onto npower’s standard tariff, their bills would shoot up by £203 a year, to £1,054. These costs are based on the average bill size for a medium user consuming 3,300kWh of electricity and 16,500kWh of gas per annum.
If, however, they switched to the market-leading Fix Saver v2 deal from EDF Energy, their bills would only increase to £1,009 a year. Don’t switch until you find out the actual date your existing plan ends, as most fixed plans carry an early exit fee.
What are the best online deals?
The leading online tariff is from Scottish Power. Someone switching from npower’s standard tariff to Scottish Power Direct October 12, for example, could save £121 a year by choosing this deal.
Other top online deals at the moment include the Online Saver 10 tariff from EDF Energy, costing the average dual fuel customer £940 a year.
A typical energy user currently on EDF Energy’s Online Saver 6 deal, for example, which ends on June 30, is currently paying £915 a year for gas and electricity. When this deal finishes, moving onto EDF’s standard tariff would see costs rise to £1,118 a year – an increase of £203 a year. But if they moved to the same supplier’s Fix Saver v2 plan, costs would only increase by £94 a year – still saving £109.
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.