Beat rising energy prices with a fixed-rate tariff
The Big Six energy firms have announced price rises which means millions of energy customers will face price hikes, adding more than £100 a year to their dual fuel tariffs.
The firms claim they have had to raise prices due to the cost of buying wholesale energy, as well as the cost of government-imposed social and green levies collected through energy bills.
The groups apologised to customers, while the government expressed its disappointment at the announcements. Energy secretary Edward Davey even said the figures used by British Gas to justify its price rises "don't add up".
The announcements were greeted bitterly by consumer groups, who warned of an increase in fuel poverty this winter.Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said:"These inflation-busting price rises will be a massive blow at a time when rising energy prices are consistently one of the top worries for hard-pressed consumers."
Jeremy Cryer, energy spokesperson at Gocompare.com, said: "If people want to ensure they don't spend more than they need to on the energy they use this winter, they should shop around now to find the best tariff for their region and energy consumption. And if you're concerned about the rising cost of gas and electricity and would like to have some control over how much you spend for a longer period, consider switching to a fixed deal."
Moneysupermarket.com's Clare Francis added: "You can fix your energy prices today and that's what you should do because if you hang around and do nothing, the current best deals could be withdrawn from sale."
According to the comparison site, the best fixed-rate energy tariffs can save households around £200 on the cost of their annual bill. One of the cheapest on the market is First Utility's iSave Fixed v9 April 2015, which would see the average dual-fuel customer paying £1,170.48 a year. This is followed by Sainsbury's Energy Online October 2014, which costs £1,172.15 a year.
Of the Big Six, the cheapest fixed rate on the market is offered by nPower, with its Online Price Fix November 2014 costing an average £1,182.03.
Older and vulnerable people should talk to their supplier to see if they qualify for any of their (or the government's) help schemes.
An increase in the general level of prices that persists over a period of time. The inflation rate is a measure of the average change over a period, usually 12 months. If inflation is up 4%, this means the price of products and services is 4% higher than a year earlier, requiring we spend and extra 4% to buy the same things we bought 12 months ago and that any savings and investments must generate 4% (after any taxes) to keep pace with inflation. Since 2003, the Bank of England has used the consumer prices index (CPI) as its official measure of inflation (see also retail prices index).