Uh oh. Despite it being one of the few months we don’t need to reach for the thermostat, the energy increase ‘will they/won’t they’ rumour mill has been stirring into life again.
What with some cheaper energy deals doing a disappearing act, and reports of some EDF Energy customers getting automatically nudged on to a more expensive tariff, things aren’t looking pretty out there.
Following some long-awaited price decreases earlier this year, things started looking shaky again at the end of April. Ovo Energy – a new company who had helped to stir prices up a bit – upped the cost of its New Energy fixed online tariff by 8% for new customers.
Energy companies tinkering with tariffs
Now, sadly, it looks like some of the bigger energy players are ‘tinkering’ with their offerings too.
According to MoneySupermarket, cheaper online deals from three of the ‘big six’ energy companies – Npower, Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Energy – have been withdrawn for new customers in the past few weeks.
EDF Energy, meanwhile, is shifting thousands of customers currently on a fixed online deal ending on 31 July straight to its ‘competitively priced’ (yet more expensive) standard deal.
Wholesale gas prices increasing too
And now something else has entered the ring to help muddy the energy pricing waters: talk of ‘wholesale gas prices’ going up.
One economic group, Nera, has suggested that prices on the UK wholesale gas market (the price energy companies pay for the energy they sell to us) have increased by 32% over the last seven months.
Confused? You’re not alone. Our research showed nine in 10 people want greater transparency around the calculation of energy prices. Decoding the claimed link between wholesale and domestic energy prices is pretty confusing and it’s something we’re campaigning to change here at Which?
How to beat an energy price rise
Which? energy policy expert Dr Fiona Cochrane offers this advice:
- If your prices have gone up or you’re coming to the end of a fixed price deal, don’t panic. You have 20 working days to change your tariff to the cheapest one available – and companies can’t back-charge you.
- As a general rule, if you don’t pay by direct debit and aren’t on an online tariff, there’s probably a cheaper option out there for you.
- Use an accredited energy comparison service to find out what your options are – but check the T&Cs for what happens when limited introductory rates or fixed-term tariffs come to an end.