Last winter the "big 6" energy suppliers (British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, nPower, Scottish and Southern Electric and Scottish Power) hiked their energy prices. This summer it's happening again with 5 already announcing price rises and EDF yet to reveal their hand.
Rest assured it's more a matter of when than if. The last time all of the "big 6" raised prices EDF Energy hung back, but, ultimately, they still put them up as well.
At the end of the day all energy providers operate in the same market, with the same wholesale costs. Eventually they'll have to increase prices.
If you're on a fixed tariff these price rises won't affect you – for now.
Remember that in order to get out of a fixed or capped tariff there may well be a cancellation fee. Weigh up whether it's worth switching now, and definitely keep an eye on the end date of your fixed or capped period, as well as the cost of the standard tariff that you will revert to. If the fixed tariff you took out a few years ago expires, you could see your energy bills rise by over £500!
If you're on a standard tariff it's well worth comparing energy prices, especially with suppliers continuing to increase standard rates.
Energyhelpline has been urging people to switch to one of the last remaining cheap fixed tariffs that will protect you from the price rises.
It doesn't look like energy prices are going to fall in the near term, with turmoil in North Africa, the Middle East and Japan all likely to keep the price of energy high for some time to come.
A fixed tariff gives you payment security for a set period, in the same way as a fixed rate mortgage. At a time of global uncertainty (who'd have believed the USA's credit rating downgrade this time last year?) security is certainly a big incentive to switch.
If you're over 60, have a low income and/or are in receipt of means-tested state benefits, you may be eligible for a social energy tariff. Social tariffs are an initiative where energy providers offer a cheaper tariff to their most vulnerable customers. If you're struggling to pay your energy bill (or worried about paying it in the future) you might be eligible for one of these favourable tariffs.
Make sure as well that you check that you're in receipt of all benefits to which you are entitled. If you think you may be eligible for a social tariff, get a quote from your current supplier (or another one if you want to switch supplier).
Although social tariffs offer a better deal for more vulnerable consumers, they're not necessarily the very best deal out there. Once you have a quote, compare energy prices on the open market as well to make sure your social tariff really is the most competitive deal for you.
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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