Energy prices: should I fix?
The final gas and energy price increases are due to come into effect next month, forcing customers to question the merits of fixed deals. Nathalie Bonney looks at whether you should be looking to fix your energy tariff.
NPower have introduced its 7.2% and 15.7% increases for electricity and gas respectively.
British Gas and Scottish Power both introduced higher prices in August and EDF Energy were the last of the 'Big Six' to hike prices - 5.4% for electricity and 15.4% for gas - which will come into effect in November.
Strain on households
In spite of the drop in wholesale prices, Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch still foresees that the coming winter will put "significant strain" on households. She adds: "It's too soon to say whether the fall in wholesale prices is a blip or an ongoing trend so I would urge consumers to focus on reducing their winter bills now rather than hoping for good news any time soon.
"Those who are particularly worried about the impact of future price hikes on their household budget should still look at fixed price plans. Some of these offer good value and security until 2014 – you just have to be aware that if prices do go down again you may not benefit."
Top Fixed-Rate Tariffs
EDF Energy has relaunched its fixed offering, the 'Fixed S@ver v2'. It fixes prices until 30 September 2012. It's available for a limited period only and could be withdrawn at any time. The average annual cost is £1,009, according to energyhelpline.com, and typically saves consumers £291, based on the average dual fuel bill costing £1,300 a year.
Scottish Power's Online Fixed Saver December fixes prices until December 2012. Its average cost is £1,020 and average annual savings are £280, according to energyhelpline.com. The provider also promises £30 cashback, effectively taking the same amount off the final price.
nPower's Bill Saver is £1,021, on average, a year. The discounted tariff guarantees to put prices 5% below its standard tariff until 1 January 2012.
Outside of the Big Six…
Ovo Energy has two simple tariffs, its New Energy Plan and Green Energy Plan. Both promise not to alter energy costs during customers' one-year fixed-rate contracts.
Pioneer from Co-op Energy is the supplier's one and only gas and electric tariff. It isn't a fixed-rate deal but there are no exit penalties and customers will always get at least a month's notice before prices are put up.