Energy prices have become a source of misery for residents across the UK after Government promises to look at the issue are continually suspended while suppliers blame the rising wholesale gas and electricity costs for the continually rising price.
With news this week that British Gas is putting its prices up by 5.5 percent, nearly 4.1 million dual fuel customers’ bills will go up from £1,101 to £1,161 a year – the equivalent of almost £246 million across the country. With prices heading north, EDF also announced a plan to hike electricity prices by 2.7 percent, increasing their standard tariff to a cost of £1,158 a year
British Gas’s standard tariff will now be £369 more expensive than the cheapest deal on the market and Claire Osborne, uSwitch.com energy expert, told Exrpess.co.uk that this rise will feel like a bolt from the blue for the four million customers on British Gas’ Standard Variable Tariff.
She said: “While many are still counting the cost after a long and cold winter, they will be wondering whether British Gas have taken the opportunity to use the prepayment price rise as an excuse to increase rates ahead of a potential wider price cap.
“Likewise, British Gas is also raising prices on its new default ‘Temporary Tariff’ by the same amount. With the difference between the two deals a mere £25, it’s important that customers are aware that neither the SVT nor the Temporary Tariff offer anything close to a good deal.”
Ms Osborne warns that the danger is that the rest of the big six may be tempted to follow British Gas’s lead and millions more people will be affected by the price rises.
She said: “Customers can send the clearest message that they won’t tolerate being taken for a ride by switching supplier to a cheaper tariff, with savings of up to £491 on offer.”
Support comes from Mark Todd co-founder of energyhelpline who urged consumers to act now to avoid “burning” money an a possible saving of £351 is very real.
He said: “The energy price rise wave is on. First E.ON, yesterday British Gas, and now EDF.
“Customers who stay on standard tariffs are literally burning their money when they turn on the heating. To beat the price rises and pay a reasonable bill I urge you to take a few minutes to switch today.”
And as ever, it is the elderly who are most affected.
According to research from Wiraya of over 2,000 residents last winter, the 54 percent majority of both vulnerable young and old age groups are prepared to layer up rather than turn the heating on in the face of price hikes.
The problem, according to Wiraya is that over a quarter of over 65s – 27 percent – are aware they are currently on a standard variable tariff, and 45 percent of people over 65 state they don’t know or can’t name a means of communication by which their energy provider informs them of their tariff options.
As a result, just 14 percent of customers over 65 say they are being advised on their energy bill by their provider.
What to do?
First of all get off Standard Variable Tariffs. These are described by Victoria Arrington of energyhelpline as a “losing game all round”.
She adds that these “default” tariffs are extremely expensive in comparison to other options on the market, but thankfully they are easy to escape from.
The advice is to get online, get yourself a better deal and then help elderly relatives make the change. The verdict from industry experts is that there are lots of new providers out there now who can offer more to win your custom.