Up to 2 million people on Economy 7 and similar deals are paying over the odds for their energy


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The Independent Online

Up to 2 million people on Economy 7 and similar deals are paying over the odds for their energy, shock figures published today reveal.

Research from the watchdog Consumer Focus shows that two out of five people who have signed up to the off-peak tariff to cut their bills could be doing the exact opposite.

The warning comes amid growing fears of fresh energy hikes by Britain’s Big Six energy firms as the cold weather starts to hit home.

Economy 7 works for those people who use storage heaters or who make sure they don’t use appliance at peak times.

But some 38 per cent of the estimate 5m people signed up to Economy 7 don’t have storage heaters or do not regularly use appliances at off-peak times.

Hannah Mummery, energy expert at Consumer Focus, said: “Hundreds of thousands of Economy 7 customers and those on other deals with off-peak rates are likely to be paying over the odds on these tariffs. Many of them don’t know when their off-peak rates kick-in and how to get the maximum savings from their tariff so they get no real benefit and would be better off on other energy deals.”

But people may need to hurry to take advantage of existing fixed rate deals with energy prices expected to soar this winter.

Scottish & Southern Energy has already announced that it is increasing bills by 9 per cent from next Monday for its five million electricity customers and 3.4 million gas account holders.

Meanwhile speculation is growing that E.on will raise prices once its “no hikes this year” promise expires on 31 December, while British Gas bosses have intimated that the energy giant may be forced to increase prices this autumn.

E.on said in a statement yesterday: “We made our price promise to give our customers certainty because it was the right thing to do and as soon as we are in a position to look beyond 31 December we will let our customers know.”

Tom Lyon, energy expert at comparison site uSwitch said the statement suggest price rise news may be imminent. “The fact that E.on, the only supplier to guarantee a price freeze for the rest of 2012, is unable to extend this commitment into 2013 spells bad news for consumers.

“With SSE’s price hike about to take effect and other suppliers appearing to be edging in the same direction, consumers should be bracing themselves for a round of winter price hikes.”