Npower and British Gas join rush to raise energy prices

a gas hob with a blue flame, radiating heat
Do you really need this...? You do?! Oh, dear...
"There are savings to be made by simply using a comparison site to compare the deals currently available" Mark Greening, Gocompare.com
  • | by Sean Davies

They say that few things in life are as certain as death and taxes. Well, how about adding to that list the sheep-like flock of energy companies joining the price-hike bandwagon?

Npower says it will increase the price of gas by an average of 8.8% and electricity by 9.1% from 26 November.

This follows hot on the heels of British Gas announcing that it will raise domestic gas and electricity prices by 6%, their new tariffs coming into effect on 16 November from when the average household dual-fuel bill for their customers will be expected to climb by £80 a year.

Scottish and Southern Electricity (SSE) announced 9% price rises in August that are set to kick in on Monday (15 October).

Some might say the behaviour of the energy companies is lemming-like, but they would be wrong.

Those unfortunate little rodents follow each other over the precipice, rather than shepherding poor dependants off the edge as they help each other up the greasy pole.

Of the other big-six power companies, Scottish Power and EDF Energy have yet to make an announcement on potential price rises, but E.On have said they will not increase tariffs for the remainder of 2012.

British Gas managing director Phil Bentley acknowledged that the price rises were "unwelcome", blaming rising wholesale prices, national grid upgrades and the cost of government policies.

Similar mantras were quoted by Npower's chief commercial officer Paul Massara.

Bentley, whose company announced a 23% rise in profits in July, also pointed to British Gas's efforts to improve the energy efficiency of customers' homes, with schemes such as free cavity wall and loft insulation.

Meanwhile, research sponsored by Gocompare.com indicates that 22% of UK consumers say they are worried about how they are going to pay their gas and electricity bills this winter, with 19% saying that they will have to make cutbacks elsewhere to be able to keep the heating on.

Yet, despite struggling to meet the rising cost of bills, only a fifth of those surveyed had switched supplier in the last 12 months, while 28% had never compared energy prices.

Over a third (36%) hadn't switched energy supplier because they thought that it was 'too much hassle'.

"The peak period for energy usage is fast approaching, so now is a good time to look at your gas and electricity bills to see if you are getting a good deal or whether you need to change your supplier," said Mark Greening, head of home services at Gocompare.com.

"However, there are savings to be made by simply using a comparison site like Gocompare.com to compare the deals currently available."