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British Gas has announced that it's raising its electricity prices by a whopping 12.5% from mid-September, a move that's expected to increase energy bills for 3.1 million customers. Are you one of them?
The price hike will impact all those on British Gas' standard tariff, and although gas prices are remaining unchanged, the move means that the average dual fuel bill for a typical household will rise by 7.3% to £1,120, costing an extra £76 each year. The change will come into effect on 15 September.
The increase "reflects the increasing costs of energy policy" and delivery to customers' homes, said the supplier, with overall electricity costs having risen by 16% since 2014. It's also at pains to point out that this is the first electricity price rise it's implemented since November 2013 – with four price cuts being offered since that time – and that 5.3 million customers are unaffected.
As an added sweetener, it says that it's acting to "protect the most vulnerable customers" from the increase: the c.200,000 customers who receive the Warm Home Discount will have their accounts credited by £76, counteracting the average price rise to ensure they're not impacted. However, this will come as little consolation to the millions of customers who are affected, many of whom are still vulnerable.
"The most long-awaited price rise in history has finally hit the market," said Mark Todd, founder of energyhelpline. "British Gas' price freeze has melted in the summer sunshine. Their standard prices are now back on the rise and will be going up by £76 from mid-September; if you are one of the unlucky ones impacted, to beat the price rise you have to switch."
Switching really is the only way to beat the price hike, and opting for a fixed tariff is the best possible option. These tariffs are far cheaper than their standard variable rate counterparts, and you could save a small fortune – as Mark Todd points out, switching can save a standard British Gas customer around £250, which could be put to far better use.
You may not want to hang around, either. Not only is a price hike on the horizon, but so is winter, so it's best to be on a cheap tariff before peak energy usage kicks in. Switching is a quick and simple process – you just have to start by comparing gas and electricity in your area, and your new supplier can take it from there – and with many smaller providers to choose from, you don't even need to stick with a big name.
"On average, four and a half million customers a year are switching, generally moving to low-cost fixed rates that beat the price rises," said Mark. "Of these around one million leave the Big Six to take up better deals with smaller suppliers. This latest price rise from British Gas should add to the exodus – customers, it's time to start looking around at alternatives".
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