British Gas, Npower and Scottish Power have all brought bad tidings of price rises over the past few days, with the usual line of wholesale energy prices being trotted out as justification.
Furthermore, pricier tariffs for Scottish & Southern Energy customers came into force on Monday – just as the temperature outside started to drop.
But proactive consumers could shield themselves from the price increases and any future hikes in the cost of gas and electricity with fixed price energy tariffs, which lock your prices for a fixed term – usually around 18 months.
While consumers usually have to pay a premium to switch to fixed price tariff, and online plans are often cheaper, they can offer more security than leaving yourself at the mercy of the energy companies.
But of course, there’s always the possibility that energy prices could come down – as they did earlier this year. And it's also important to remember that there is usually a substantial fee incurred for leaving a fixed-price tariff, so it's important to look at your usage and circumstances and weigh up what's best for you.
But the previous form of the energy companies demonstrates that they aren’t nearly as quick to cut prices when there’s a dip in wholesale energy costs as they are when they rise. Ofgem, the energy industry watchdog reported last year that energy companies are far quicker to drive up prices in relation to wholesale costs than they are to cut, so don’t just take our word for it.
Gocompare.com’s resident energy expert Mark Greening said: “A good way to save on your utility bills is to shop around using a comparison site like Gocompare.com to compare the deals currently available and check that you are not paying over the odds for your gas and electricity.
“Switching suppliers isn't as difficult as you might think and the savings can be substantial. Gocompare.com customers could save up to £350.95** on their utility by simply switching supplier. It only takes a few minutes to enter a few details which can be found on your current gas or electricity supplier's bill."
** Based on customers who switched energy supplier for both gas and electricity (dual fuel) using the Energylinx powered Gocompare.com platforms during the 1st January - 31st March 2012. At least 10% of people who switched energy supplier for both gas & electricity with Gocompare.com saved £350.95 or more.