Energy bill rises will "worry" customers this winter - watchdog

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A consumer watchdog has warned that rising fuel bills will lead many to worry about the cost of heating their home this winter.

Consumer Focus claims the above-inflation rises, of up to 20%, will push heating bills towards the £1,250 a year mark.

The warning comes after E.ON became the fourth big energy supplier to announce price rises. It will raise gas by 18.1% and electricity by 11.4% from September 13.

E.ON's hikes follow similar rises from three of the other "Big Six" suppliers, who provide energy for 99% of the UK, with Scottish Power, British Gas and Scottish and Southern Electricity all increasing fuel prices.

Consumer Focus has welcomed energy watchdog Ofgem's plans to investigate the Big Six company's tariffs, saying consumers needed to know if gas and electricity prices were fair.

Chief executive Mike O'Connor said: "Yet another price rise will leave the average energy bill weighing in at £1,250 a year.  Many consumers worry how they will afford to keep their homes warm this winter given other price rises and flat or falling incomes.  Four of the Big Six have now raised their prices by similar amounts.

"The regulator must be prepared to act if it can't say for certain whether prices are fair. If consumers are to stomach such price rises, they need to know they are fair."

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