April Fools' for Scottish and Southern Energy customers

Customers of Scottish and Southern Energy, the second-biggest energy company in the UK, will see their energy bills increase by up to 15.8% from 1 April.

The firm is the last of the five big energy companies to announce a rise in bills in response to more expensive wholesale gas.

From 1 April, prices for SSE's electricity customers will increase by an average of 14.2% while prices for gas customers will increase by 15.8%.

Alistair Phillips-Davies, a director at SSE, said: "I can assure customers of one thing: our commitment to responsible pricing will not change. We will still aim to be the first, or one of the first, suppliers to cut energy prices if we can and the last, or one of the last, to increase them again if we have to.”

SSE’s price hikes come 12 weeks after Npower put up prices on 5 January and 10 weeks after British Gas put up prices on 18 January.

Consumer watchdog Which? says the latest hike gives the green light to consumers to switch energy supplier.

Siobhan Parker, from Which?, said: “Everyone’s feeling the post-budget pinch and making sure you’re getting the best deal for your home energy is a smart and easy way to take some of the pressure off.

“If you haven’t compared your rate with the competition lately, now is the time.“

According to figures from energy price comparison website TheEnergyShop.com, the hike will see the average SSE gas-only bill increase by £83 a year to £602, the average electricity-only bill increase by £50 a year to £396, and the average dual fuel bill increase by £130 to £980.

Joe Malinowski, founder of TheEnergyShop.com, said: ““This increase was expected. The good news is that even after this increase SSE customers will continue to see some of the lowest Standard prices around. Unfortunately that’s about as good as it gets.

“If wholesale prices stay at current levels then we are looking at further increases and misery for consumers throughout 2008.”

Malinowski recommends customers who want to reduce their energy bills consider paying by direct debit, switch to an online tariff and reduce their energy usage down.

More easy ways to save energy and cut your bills.

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