While we allow ourselves to become mildly excited at the prospect of an Indian Summer (we don’t want to jinx it), it’s starting to approach the time when we traditionally programme the central heating schedule.
By next month we will probably have caved and reached for the on switch, which makes this a very bad time indeed for energy price rises.
For those who missed it, one of the Big Six suppliers SSE (Scottish Hydro, Swalec and Southern Electric) are due to raise their prices for domestic gas and electricity by an average of nine per cent from October 15th.
In real terms this means an add-on cost of £119 for the average duel customer. Whenever one of the main suppliers chooses to raise their prices, the inevitable fear for consumers is that the other five will follow suit. One bit of good news is that E.on have pledged not to raise their prices before the end of the year, though whether the remaining big names will up their prices remains to be seen.
Energy prices in the UK have been under the spotlight for many years, with the government pushing suppliers to make bills and tariffs more transparent and enabling easier customer switching. The dominance of the big six in the market is often cited as hampering competition, a topic that was discussed in detail this week during the first sitting of the public examination of ‘Consumer engagement with energy markets’ by the Commons Energy Committee.
Stephen Fitzpatrick, boss of independent supplier Ovo Energy, told the Committee that “predatory pricing” by the dominant firms meant that it was hard for smaller firms to compete for new business and that as many as 85 per cent of Big Six customers were paying too much in order to fund deals for new customers.
Energy chiefs also faced criticism from MPs, Labour MP for Glasgow North West, John Robertson, said: “The perception is you are money-grabbing so-and-sos and all you do is rip us off”.
Those in charge at the big firms were quick to deny the accusations pointed at them. Generation and supply Director at SSE, Alistair Phillips-Davies said: “There’s healthy competition in the market. “
If you’ve avoided switching your energy supplier because you’ve been with your supplier for so long you don’t even know how to jump ship, you can seek advice and check if you can make a saving on the Uswitch website.
Of course, one of the best ways to keep heating bills low is to reduce your energy use, which is why we are grateful for the invention of energy-saving windows!
Where do you stand on the matter? Do you think energy bills have become easier to follow in recent years? Are you considering changing your supplier?
In the coming months it will certainly be interesting to see what progress is made by the committee and whether suppliers raise their prices. In the meantime, we are hoping the sun lasts out just a bit longer so we can keep our bills to a minimum.