Npower has become the fourth energy provider to increase its gas and electricity prices this winter, but it's not too late to beat rising bills.
Npower has announced that it will increase its gas and electricity prices by an average of 5% on 4 January.
British Gas, Scottish and Southern, Scottish Power have already increased their prices within the last month. EDF has agreed to hold its standard prices until the spring, although that said it did increase prices for some of its customers back in October. Of the big six, that leaves just Eon to reveal its hand.
Npower's increase will see customers on a duel fuel tariff, paying monthly by direct debit, paying an additional £54 a year. However it has stated it will protect its social tariff, for more vulnerable consumers, until April 2011.
Critics have attacked providers for implementing price rises right at the start of the winter, allowing them to cash in at the most costly time of year.
But you don't have to put up with bigger bills.
The easiest way to cut your bill is to switch energy suppliers. According to uSwitch.com there is currently £419 a year between the cheapest and most expensive suppliers, while Energyhelpline.com reckons the average household can save an impressive £333 a year by switching. Opt for an online only tariff and agree to pay by direct debit for the biggest savings.
Read Rachel Lacey's blog: How I cut my energy bills in half
Mark Todd, director of the company, said: "If everyone switched to their cheapest deal this would lead to a nationwide saving of £6.4 billion and significantly dent suppliers' profits.
"Energy customers do have a part to play in this and if they switched more regularly that would force the hand of the 'Big Six'. We advise every consumer to do a price comparison once a year to ensure they do not get ripped off."
It's easy to switch - check out Moneywise's Energy Switcher or any other independent comparison service to see how much you could save. All you need to hand is a recent gas and electricity bill which will provide an indication of your current energy usage and ensures price comparisons are as meaningful as possible.
Once you've found a better deal, simply enter your details and the switching service will handle the changeover for you. The supply will be moved using your existing pipes and wiring and no-one will need to come to your property.
All you'll have to do is provide up-to-date meter readings in time for your switch, but your new supplier will let you know when you need to do this.
Before switching make sure you're aware of any clauses that will tie you into the deal - many of the best deals will require to you to pay an exit penalty if you leave within a year.
Switching isn't the only way to save. According to the Energy Savings Trust, UK households could collectively wipe £2 billion off their energy bills by taking three simple steps: insulating their cavity walls and lofts, replacing old fashioned bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs and turning all their appliances off standby.
Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said: "There is no getting away from the fact that the UK is facing challenging economic times. But it is also clear that this hardship is making people think more carefully about what they are spending their money on."