More energy price hikes come into effect this week
This week sees two more of the Big Six energy providers up their prices. E.on will increase its electricity costs by 11.4% and its gas by 18.1% tomorrow.
Scottish and Southern Energy follows on Wednesday, charging 11% more for electricity and 18% for gas.
The previously announced npower hikes will come in on 1 October, while British Gas and Scottish Power put up their prices back in August.
Five of the Big Six have now announced energy price rises less than a year since previous hikes; only EDF Energy is yet to unveil another rise.
Time to prepare
With the nights drawing in and given that the hoped-for Indian summer hasn't materialised, our heating bills are likely to shoot up as we start to turn the heating on in the coming weeks and months.
How then can we ensure we're not paying over the odds?
1) Compare and Switch
Switching providers is a great way of reducing energy bills: users of the Moneywise Compare Energy Service have wiped an average £252 off their energy bills by changing provider. It can take four to six weeks to make the move though, so if you're thinking of switching it's worth starting off the process soon.
2) Go online and pay by direct debit
Use our Compare and Save energy tool to input your postcode and see which provider offers you the best deal. You can adjust the payment method and tariff to get an even better price. Opting for an online dual fuel bill and paying by direct debit are all ways to reduce the cost further.
3) It's not too late to fix
Fixed deals, which freeze gas and electricity prices at a set rate, give customers assurance that they won't see their energy bills shoot up for the duration of the fix - usually one to two years - but, of course, if any of the providers announce reductions in their prices you won't benefit from these.
The popularity of fixed offers mean that they could be withdrawn due to high demand. EDF Energy for example, has relaunched its fixed tariff, freezing prices until September 2012 but it's likely the deal will be pulled before it becomes too oversubscribed.
4) Don't just think of the Big Six
Aside from the household names there are some smaller gas and electric suppliers worth considering such as Ovo, the Co-operative Energy and First Utility. These companies will also show up in online comparison searches.
5) Winterproof your home
From small measures such as fitting draught excluders and boiler jackets to insulating your loft, preparing your home for the winter months could shave hundreds of pounds off your bills. The Energy Saving Trust (energysavingtrust.org.uk) has more information on the different home improvements and products you can invest in.
Energy hikes round-up
British Gas: Electricity 18%, gas 16%
Scottish Power: Electricity 10%, gas 19%
E.on: Electricity 11.4%, gas 18.1%
npower: Electricity 7.2%, gas 15.7%
Scottish and Southern Energy: Electricity 11%, gas 18%
EDF Energy: Nothing…yet
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