The misery for millions of households continues as the Big Six energy providers race to increase prices to the maximum permitted under the new energy price cap.
The price cap, brought in by the government to control high energy prices, was increased £117 by the regulator last week, up to £1,254 per year.
Those on pre-payment meters now have a cap of £1,242, an increase of £106.
So far, three of the Big Six energy giants have imposed stonking price increases on their customers on standard variable tariffs (SVRs).
On Monday, E.ON announced an eye-watering 10% hike in its SVR costs.
On Tuesday, it was EDF’s turn, announcing a £118 rise for 1.3 million SVR customers, to match the £1,254 cap.
Today, nPower has become the latest to hike its prices. It has hiked prices by £116.76, again to match the price cap level at £1,254 per year for one million SVR customers.
This hike is a 10.27% price increase.
Peter Earl, head of energy at comparethemarket, says: “Another day, another 10% price hike from the Big Six. nPower has been inadvertently empowered by Ofgem to do this, and we’ll most likely continue to see this state-sanctioned price hiking for days to come.
"We believe that these knee-jerk variable rate increases will backfire on these suppliers – we expect to see a giant wave of switching on the back of these moves."
Sally Jaques, head of energy at auto-energy-switching service weflip, says: “Last week’s energy price cap announcement seems to have sounded the starting pistol for suppliers to introduce price rises.
“We’d be amazed if other suppliers – large and small – didn’t follow suit, and we expect to see SVT or ‘default’ rates rise across the board.”
The current cheapest fixed-rate energy deal on the market costs £968 per year according to price comparison site uSwitch.
Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at uSwitch, says: “People could be forgiven for feeling that they’ve been completely and utterly conned by the government’s energy price cap.
“We are in a ridiculous situation where standard plans are likely to be in higher in April than before the cap was introduced. With bills set to soar by an average of £117 for 11 million homes, Britain needs to brace itself for a billion-pound price hike.
“With the cheapest deal available today £286 less than the new cap, households on default energy tariffs have a very clear choice: carry on paying unnecessarily high prices that can frequently change at the mercy of a spreadsheet, or beat the price cap and cut your bills by switching to a fixed deal.”
Ms Jaques agrees: “With 11 million households on these tariffs – which act as the over-priced holding pens for customers who haven’t shopped around – it’s vital that people take action and switch to better deals. The price cap will never provide the level of protection or the savings that proactively moving from bad deals to good ones will.
“If you are a nPower customer and currently on an SVT – or if you are on an SVT with ANY energy supplier for that matter – you should take action now to save yourself potentially hundreds of pounds on your gas and electricity.”