Last week the Bank of England predicted that energy prices are likely to rise again this winter.
It seems they were right on the money: SSE (the UK's second biggest energy supplier) on Wednesday announced a 9% price hike from 15 October.
And history tells us that when one of the "Big Six" energy suppliers raises prices, it's only a matter of time before the others do the same...
The Bank of England's quarterly inflation report, released on 12 August, revealed that although wholesale gas prices have fallen by roughly 9% since May's report, retail energy prices may still go up towards the end of 2012.
The Bank says that "continuing rises in the other costs that those suppliers face, such as those associated with distribution, are likely to result in small increases in domestic energy prices around the turn of the year."
Many customers will no doubt question how energy suppliers reporting increased profits can justify such rises - particularly given the decrease in wholesale costs. This week, energy supplier E.ON reported that it had more than trebled its profits, and British Gas has recently announced a 23% profit boost too.
So what can you do, in the face of these anticipated price rises?
Fixed energy tariffs give you a set cost for your gas and electricity over a set period. Luckily, at present three of the four cheapest tariffs are fixed:
first:utility iSave Fixed v3 December 2013
Scottish Power Online Energy Saver 20
Scottish Power Online Fixed Price Energy November 2013
EDF Blue + Price Promise April 2014
npower Energy Online Oct 2013
Sainsbury's Energy Online Variable Sep 2013
SOURCE: Energyhelpline.com 23.8.12. * Saving based on average dual fuel tariff costing £1,310 (Source: OFGEM 1 Aug 2012).
Fixed energy tariffs aren't without downsides though. If you want to leave the tariff, before the end of the fixed period, you will sometimes have to pay a penalty to exit. This can also be the case with some of the best online variable tariffs as well. So make sure you check the cancellation penalty before you make your switch.
E.ON has pledged not to increase its prices in 2012, meaning that customers with this company have some security. However, if its competitors do increase prices, history says that E.ON would be almost certain to do the same early in 2013.
When your energy provider increases its prices, you have the right to reject the price rise - providing you switch to a new energy company. You have to contact your energy provider within 20 working days to inform them of your rejection, and, obviously, you'll also need to arrange a new supplier as well.
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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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