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Spend & Save

Five Questions About...Energy Price Increases

Which energy suppliers are putting up prices?

To date, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has announced that it is raising gas prices by 9.4 per cent on 1 December, while British Gas will raise gas and electricity prices by an average of 7 per cent on 10 December. About eight million British Gas customers will be affected. Their bills rise by an average of about £80 a year, to £1,237.

Why are prices going up?

Energy providers blame rises in wholesale costs of "more than 25 per cent since the spring". However, according to the industry watchdog Consumer Focus, wholesale prices are still only half what they were at their peak in 2008. Energy providers are therefore facing heavy criticism for announcing price increases, particularly as usage soars during the winter months.

What about the other energy suppliers?

It's a case of wait and see, but often when one firm announces price hikes, the others follow. That said, EDF Energy has pledged to freeze prices until March.

What can I do about rising fuel costs?

While prices are going up, most people could still slash their bills. More than 15 million households have never switched provider. If you are one of them, now is the time to act because you could save an average of £312 a year by moving to a cheaper tariff. It is worth getting into the habit of switching tariff annually as providers regularly launch new deals.

What are the best deals on the market?

The cheapest option is an online tariff paid monthly by direct debt. For the average home, EDF's Online Saver V7 is best – your annual bill will be about £867 a year. If you would prefer to protect yourself from future price rises, OVO Energy has the cheapest fixed tariff, New Energy Fixed, which averages £993 a year. It is always worth using an online comparison calculator to identify which deal is best for you because it could differ depending on your usage and where in the country you live.

Clare Francis, Editor, moneysupermarket.com