The cold winter snap just got snappier following news that energy prices are on the rise. One of the big six energy suppliers, Npower, has announced a 15% increase in rates and experts predict others like British Gas will follow suit.
This might sound very familiar – at the beginning of last year we had all been hit for six with price rise after price rise by energy suppliers and average household energy bills jumped to over £1,000 a year.
Then they came tumbling down over 2007 and suppliers were desperate to win back business with price cuts and fixing deals.
So the question is when will prices stop wobbling and what should you do about tariff hikes? Is it time to switch? MoneyExpert.com takes you through the options…
Yo-yo prices – but I’m on a fixed deal
Plenty of people decided to take a chance in 2007 and fixed their energy tariffs for a set period of time to avoid further hikes like those on the cards now. However anyone who fixed won’t have been able to take advantage of the price drops we experienced last year and will have paid over the odds.
If you’re in this boat you do at least have the peace of mind of knowing exactly how much you’ll pay for your energy even though prices are on the rise now. Check how long you have left of your current contract – if you’re approaching the end of a tariff freeze deal make sure you check prices again when you’re allowed to move – don’t stick with what you’ve got for the sake of it.
Stick or twist
Lots of people have taken advantage of the 2007 energy price wars. Millions of us found cheaper deals at a different provider – around three million people switch gas and electricity provider every six months.
But now things are different. Prices are creeping up again and people are unsure whether to stick or twist, fearful of massive bills as they keep the heating on in the cold winter months.
Even if you’ve switched before, don’t panic! Theoretically you can switch again, but it’s worth waiting to see how things develop first. And the same goes for fixing. Freezing your tariff is an option, particularly with prices seemingly on the rise – but bear in mind you’ll be committed to a set price for an agreed period of time, regardless of price variations.
Jumping ship isn’t always the best option as even when energy prices are rising, providers will try to match and better each other’s prices to win business. It’s still quite early in that process so wait to see what happens before axing your current supplier or joining their price freeze scheme.
Is the price right?
Don’t underestimate good customer service – if you compare prices and can’t see a huge difference, don’t forget to take into account how your current supplier fares on the phone. Do they have a repair scheme? Are they quick to answer calls and help with problems?
What about saving the planet?
"Green" tariffs are commonplace now – this means prices are based on energy that was produced from renewable sources, such as wind or hydroelectric power. If you want to do your bit the MoneyExpert.com gas and electricity service includes the option to take a "green" tariff, so take a look to see how much it’ll cost you.
Compare and Switch Gas and Electricity