British Gas turns up the heat on households

Image of man with flaming bill
Reg was caught unawares by his British Gas bill
“These price rises just aren’t cricket” Ben Wilson, GoCompare
  • | by Kristian Dando

Can you hear that? A rustling in the trees? A distant whistling? An ominous clattering of garden furniture being blown along the ground?

Yes, we might just be in the first week of August, but that’s the sound of autumnal energy price rises – and they’re on their way.

Centrica, the owner of British Gas has gone and whacked 12.5% on the cost of its electricity prices, effective 15 September, but left gas prices alone.

The average annual dual fuel bill will rise to 7.3% to £1,120 ‘per annum’. (That’s ‘a year’, non-Latin speakers).

That’s a buzz-killing rise of around £76. When you think that could quite easily get you return flights on a budget airline to a European city, the figure really sinks in.

Naturally, Centrica leapt to defend the price hikes.

“We held off increasing prices for many months longer than most suppliers in order to protect our customers from rising costs, so it is a difficult decision to have to announce an increase in electricity prices,” squirmed Mark Hodges, head of Centrica Consumer.

“This rise reflects an underlying increase in policy and transmission costs. We know that keeping energy prices as low as possible is vital, and our new standard tariff price has again been set at a level lower than most of the top 10 suppliers. We are able to do this because we have managed our own cost base tightly,” he added.

We should probably add here that Centrica reported pre-tax profits of £639m  for the first six months of the year, down from £688m the year before - an attempt to claw back its profits? We couldn't possibly comment.

You don’t have to be Miss Marple to deduce that this is the point where we urge you to shop around and switch.

But with around two thirds of bill-payers still on highly expensive Standard Variable Tariffs (which are, as we’ve spoken about before, for mugs) according to industry watchdog Ofgem, we feel that we still need to make a big song and dance about the matter.

“These price rises just aren’t cricket,” blasted Ben Wilson, GoCompare’s resident ‘Mr Energy’. “Hard-pressed consumers have enough to worry about without an additional £76 added to their bills every year.”

“We’ve been banging the drum for shopping around and switching for years now. The message is beginning to sink in, but if you’re a British Gas customer who doesn’t fancy paying over the odds, now might be the ideal chance to scour the market for a choicer deal.”

It’s a doddle to compare energy tariffs on GoCompare.

Simply fire up our energy page, armed with your last fuel bill. Enter your details, address and usage and take it from there.

Tell us how furious you are with British Gas onTwitterandFacebook.