Gas and electricity Updated:
British Gas has announced that it's freezing its standard gas and electricity tariffs for the winter, ensuring that customers needn't worry about price rises in the chilly months ahead. But is that enough to ensure households aren't paying over the odds?
In a series of adverts in national newspapers, British Gas has sent a Christmas message to its customers – a message which has been reiterated by Mark Hodges, British Gas CEO, on its website.
"As Christmas approaches, we want to say thank you to all our British Gas customers and let them know about some commitments we're making to help them keep their energy bills down," he said. "We will be keeping the price of our standard variable energy tariff unchanged through this winter … this move will help bring some peace of mind to more than six million of our customers."
It's understood that this means the tariff will remain unchanged until at least March 2017, giving households some welcome breathing space over the winter months. The announcement also said that British Gas was launching a new tariff that would be fixed until March 2019, and makes a commitment that customers "will always get access to our best deals".
This means customers on the standard rate will be contacted for an annual health check "to make sure they're on the right tariff", and not only that, but the firm will continue to rollout smart meters to "enable customers to keep bills down by using less energy".
"The commitments we've made today show British Gas has been thinking hard about ways to improve how the energy market works for all our customers," added Mark. "You will see us doing even more in the coming months. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our customers."
The move has been welcomed by the industry, with the announcement coming hot on the heels of a similar commitment by SSE to freeze its standard prices until April next year. Given that wholesale gas and electricity costs have been rising sharply in recent months, these price caps should give customers valuable peace of mind that their bills won't be bearing the brunt of those increases.
But is it enough? Perhaps not. After all, the price caps are only impacting standard tariffs which are already the most expensive, so those customers are already paying far more than they need to be. Many in the industry are calling for suppliers to do more than simply freeze prices, and it's hoped that the Government will commit to its promise of investigating standard energy tariffs so people end up with a far fairer deal.
Until then, why pay more? Instead of being content with price freezes, why not see if you can actually lower your bill by switching to a better deal – a fixed price tariff with the same supplier will typically be far cheaper, and you may be able to save even more by switching suppliers altogether. Check out our comparison tool to get started.
Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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