Beat the Energy Price Rises

READ: Energy prices are on the rise in 2019 - Beat the energy price hikes

When one energy company increases its prices, you can be sure the others won’t be too far behind – and so, hot on the heels of EDF Energy and British Gas announcing their second prices rise of 2018, Scottish Power has gone and done the same.

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And now Bulb has gone one step further to announce it's third price rise of 2018!

Scottish Power has announced a 3.7% price rise to its standard variable rate tariff that will affect aroun 900,000 customers. This means the energy giant's standard rate dual fuel tariff will increase by an average of £47 and cost £1,320 a year.

The increase will take effect from October 8th, but Scottish Power has assured all affected customers that they will be offered an opportunity to move to a fixed price tariff to avoid the increase.

As for the British Gas price rise, Centrica, the supplier's parent company, has announced a 3.8% price rise will take effect from October 1st. The rise will affect more than three million customers on the energy giant’s standard variable tariff (SVT), with the average energy bill going up by £44 to £1,205 a year.

The 2.4 million British Gas customers on fixed-price contracts will be unaffected – if you're currently on an SVT, now is the time to switch to a fixed rate deal, before these price hikes kick in.

In April, the firm announced its first price rise of 2018, increasing rates by an average 5.5% for SVT customers and those on a temporary tariff fixed-rate deal. This and came less than a year after British Gas pushed electricity prices up by 12.5%.

As for Bulb's third price hike of 2018, the renewable energy supplier said prices will rise for all of its 750,000 customers on its single ‘vari-fair’ tariff, with a typical annual bill increasing by a whopping 11.1%, from £923 to £1,025, or £8.50 per month.

Bulb is different to most suppliers - whereas most offer a range of tariffs, with the cheapest deals being a fixed rate tariff, Bulb offers just one, single variable rate tariff - and it last raised prices in June, blaming wholesale energy costs, which have since increased by further 18%.

The supplier said its single tariff reflects the true cost of energy. “When wholesale costs move, so does Bulb's tariff,” Bulb said in a statement.

Adding: "This has meant that since Bulb was founded in 2015, it’s dropped its prices seven times. Today’s increase is the fourth in the company’s history."

Which suppliers have raised energy prices in 2018?

EDF Energy was the first supplier to announce a second price rise in 2018 - not content with the 2.7% price hike it announced back in April, the energy giant is now its putting prices up again, in the form of a 6% increase that will add a further £70 a year to the average dual fuel bill.

The changes will affect EDF Energy standard variable customers - which currently accounts for 40% of its customers – who will see prices go up from August 31. If you’re on a fixed price tariff, prepayment tariff or the safeguard tariff for vulnerable customers, you’ll not be affected.

This means that three of the Big Six have now imposed two prices rises this year, and you can be sure the rest won’t be too far behind – remember, we did warn everyone about this the first time around...

Don’t be surprised to see more suppliers putting up their prices during the coming months, mirroring the wave of price hikes imposed around this time last year.

2018 energy price rises (since December 2017)

Supplier Old price New price Difference (£) Difference (%) Effective from
Our Power £848 £939 £91 10.7% April 2018
iSupply £1,014 £1,090 £76 7.5% March 2018
Good Energy £1,167 £1,249 £82 7.0% December 2017
Engie £980 £1,038 £58 5.9% April 2018
Pure Planet £860 £908 £48 5.6% March 2018
Ofgem Prepay Cap £1,031 £1,089 £57 5.6% April 2018
Ebico £1,101 £1,161 £60 5.5% January 2018
British Gas £1,101 £1,161 £60 5.5% May 2018
Ecotricity £1,201 £1,258 £58 4.8% April 2018
Igloo Energy £845 £871 £26 3.1% April 2018
Bulb £855 £878 £24 2.8% April 2018
Eon £1,123 £1,153 £30 2.7% April 2018
EDF £1,142 £1,158 £16 2.7% June 2018
Octopus £908 £931 £23 2.5% February 2018
Npower £1,116 £1,230 £64 5.3% June 2018
Scottish Power £1,210 £1,273 £63 5.5% June 2018
SSE £1,013 £1,089 £76 6.7% July 2018
Bulb £879 £923 £44 5.1% August 2018
First Utility £1,1991 £1,132 £66.96 5.9% July 2018
EDF £1,158 £1,228 £70 6.0% August 2018
British Gas £1,161 £1,205 £44 3.0% October 2018
Scottish Power £1,273 £1,320 £47 3.7% October 2018
Bulb £923 £1,025 £102 11.1% November 2018

Other recent rate rises include SSE, which finally cracked to become the last of the Big Six to increase its rates, Bulb Energy, an independent green energy supplier, and First Utility, the biggest supplier outside the Big Six, have both announced price hikes.

Bulb's Vari-Fair tariff, which is its standard and only variable rate tariff, went up by 5.1% for new customers from Monday, June 11, while existing customers - as well as those already in the process of switching to Bulb - will see the same price rise on Sunday, August 12.

Bulb has put the price rises down to increased wholesale costs, which have shot up by 21% since February, and estimates the average home will see their annual tariff increase from £879 to £923 - a rise of £4 per month, or £44 a year.

Around 450,000 customers will be affected.

First Utility’s First Variable tariff increased by an average 5.9%, adding £5.58 a month - or £66.96 - onto a typical dual fuel bill. The new annual price is now £1,1991, up from £1,132 since the increase took effect on July 23rd.

It puts the change in price down to a 9.2% increase in external costs over the past year, made up from a 9% increase in wholesale gas and electricity costs and a 30% increase in costs related to delivering government policies such renewable energy schemes.

Meanwhile, more than two million SSE Energy customers, including some whose energy is supplied under the M&S Energy brand, saw their bills rise by an average of £76 a year - gas prices jumped by 5.7%, while electricity went up 7.7% on July 11, making for a 6.7% increase on the cost of a dual fuel bill.

The start of May saw Npower announce a price rise of 5.3% - equal to a £64 a year increase onto the bills of a million dual fuel customers - to take effect on June 17.

This price hike followed shortly after Scottish Power announced it was to put prices up by 5.5% from June 1.

The government was quick to condemn the price rises as Energy minister, Claire Perry, said: "We are disappointed by British Gas's announcement of an unjustified price rise in its default tariff when customers are already paying more than they need to."

Unsurprisingly, Labour put the blame at the door of Number 10, suggesting the Prime Minister's hesitation to introduce a price cap has enabled the energy giant to push up prices.

Why are energy prices rising?

A new round of price rises was first mooted at the end of February, as a high gas demand for heating, coupled with a series disruptions to supply, meant National Grid had to issue a rare ‘gas deficit warning’ to urgently call for more supplies and ask industry to volunteer to use less.

This shortage in supply also brought with it the possibility that National Grid might even have to impose a compulsorily cut off of industrial users’ gas supplies, to help to preserve provisions for households.

It’s a situation that has seen wholesale gas prices peak at four times their usual level, surging as high as 225p per therm at the beginning of March, compared with an average of 56p per therm throughout February. And because much of the UK’s electricity supply is generated by gas-fired power plants, there’s also been a surge in wholesale electricity prices.

Suppliers are now under pressure to increase prices for consumers to help mitigate for this increase in wholesale costs, and this was one of the reasons given by British Gas, which was quick to point out Ofgem recently did the same when it announced five million vulnerable households would face a 5.5% price hike on their annual energy bills.

Mark Hodges, chief executive of Centrica Consumer, the domestic arm of British Gas’ parent company, said: "We fully understand that any price increase adds extra pressure on customers' household bills. This increase we are announcing today is reflective of the costs we are seeing which are beyond our control."

He added: "Government policies, intended to transform the energy system, are important but they are putting pressure on customers' bills. We believe government should level the playing field so the customers of all suppliers pay a fair share of energy policy costs," Mr Hodges said.

"We continue to encourage government to consider moving these costs out of energy bills altogether and into general taxation."

In short, it seems prices are going up through a combination of increased costs and the extra charges levied by the government, such as the smart meter roll out and emissions targets. And, although it was designed to curb price increases, the energy price cap has also contributed to rising energy rates.

How to avoid energy price hikes

Although the old saying goes that death and taxes are the only certainty in life, we may as well add energy price rises to the list, as prices go up without fail, year-on-year (admittedly, this would make the trope a lot less catchy, but still…)

The good news is there is an easy way to protect yourself from the annual price hikes, and that’s by signing up for a fixed rate tariff to lock in the price you pay for the energy you use.

Prices are usually fixed for between 12 and 18 months, and although your bills will still vary depending upon the amount of gas and electricity you use, the price you pay per unit of energy you use will remain the same for the duration of the deal, regardless of how much suppliers push their prices up by.

The freezing temperatures may have delayed any price hike announcements – putting prices up during a cold snap doesn’t make for great PR – as may have the ongoing parliamentary processes to introduce an energy price cap by next winter.

But it’s almost certain that prices will go up across the board in the coming weeks or months, so it makes sense to nail down your prices with a fixed-rate deal now.

Check out Everything you need to know about fixed rate energy tariffs for more information, and to see the best fixed rate deals on the market, or enter your postcode at the top of this page to run an energy comparison and see how much you could save on you annual bills.

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Les Roberts - Energy Expert at UKPower

Les Roberts - Energy Expert at UKPower

If you’ve got an issue with your energy supplier, our consumer champion Les is on hand to help. A decade in consumer affairs means Les understands how confusing energy tariffs can be, so he'll cut through the jargon to help make sure you get the best deal.