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Will the cold snap make for biting winter bills?

Winter day

The winter weather has well and truly kicked in for most parts of the UK, and it would seem that concerns about energy bills are creeping higher up the agenda on the consumer worry list. So are you concerned about your winter bills?

I think I, like many, had gotten used to the balmy weather of 2016. But the new year has brought with it a change in our weather fortunes, with forecasts predicting an icy January on its way, and with some areas of the UK already plunging to -7°C.

For someone who really doesn’t like the cold, I wasn’t taking any chances and decided to don two jackets just to leave the house today.

While most wouldn’t resort to such extreme measures, many people may find they’re reaching for their thermostats more frequently to counter the cold.

Winter bills

Coupled with the dropping temperatures, are the reports of rising wholesale energy prices, which makes up a large proportion of the average consumer energy bill.

So it’s not surprising that energy prices have climbed their way to the top of our consumer worry list, alongside fuel prices and public spending cuts.

When we took a look at the biggest concerns bothering consumers, our research found that nearly two thirds (64%) of people said they were worried about energy prices – that’s a rise of eight percentage points since September.

And what’s more, there’s growing distrust in the energy industry – our research found that a third (35%) of consumers now distrust the sector, that’s a rise of six percentage points.

While some energy suppliers have temporarily frozen their standard tariff prices this winter, these tariffs are generally the most expensive deals on the market and won’t protect those customers from the price hikes set to kick in this year.

Restoring trust

Restoring trust won’t be easy. But as a starter for ten, our Fair Energy Prices campaign has challenged energy suppliers to publish a plan by 31 January to set out how they will help customers currently on poor value tariffs.

With only weeks to go, not one energy company has published their plan… but there’s still time! We’re keeping the pressure up and expect energy companies to take helping their customers with energy bills seriously.

So, tell us, are you worried about your winter energy bills? Would you like to see energy companies do more to help their customers?

Patricia Jones says:
7 January 2017

I stay with Ebico for gas & electricity, as they are non profit making, have only one tariff, DONT HAVE A STANDING CHARGE & costs per kwh are the same for pre-payment meters as for normal meters.


Unless you are a very low user they are also one of the most expensive suppliers around. They buy from SSE and have a charity that uses profits to support the fuel-poor and other “social enterprises”.

Chris Burley says:
7 January 2017

Heating Oil Prices
27p/litre eof June,38p/litre mid Nov to 48p now .There would be riots if gas/electric went up 75%.We don’t even have the option of fixed term pricing its all spot pricing . This amounts to c £50/mth !
There is virtually no competition and you are exposed to spot pricing which moves rapidly up and slowly downwards. Living in Rural areas its oil or nothing.


But the advantage is that heating oil is one of the few energy products you can store in order to avail yourself of lower summer prices. Many people in the rural area where we live have liquid petroleum gas [LPG] which can also be stored.

sean says:
8 January 2017

Being an OCD type of person, i have managed to monitor and record my energy bills over a 3 year period and have concluded that the cheapest way is to only put on heating when you come home from work, do not keep it on a constant low as this is not economical (neither is a hive,nest etc…) i have saved over £100 p/month so far. What i have also found is changing light bulbs to led definitely saves money and if you have an open fire, install a wood burner, as this makes a huge difference

R G Taylor says:
20 January 2017

I am a British Gas customer and would want BG to do the right thing opposite its customers so have signed the Which petition. But two points, Mark from BG writes that BG is trying to implement various approaches to ensure a better deal. That may or may not be good enough for some , but to avoid all this, they should try to get access to someone’s p.c ,and contact the website run by consumer campaigner Martin Lewis. His weekly blog ( Wednesday) includes a run down of the cheapest Energy suppliers. Secondly he from time to time announces a “collective” switch deal with a supplier including BG which is cheaper than anyone else. I am on such a deal, with BG , have switched twice since 2015 and will do so again this year. My advice is always look at his cautions over what any supplier is offering, eg how many satisfied customers, how big , how long in business, is the supplier etc. It takes a little time but saves a lot of money or trouble later on when/if things go wrong.

R G Taylor


The cheapest energy supplier will depend upon your annual consumption, and the balance between electricity and gas. You cannot nominate a cheapest supplier – they are only likely to be such for a proportion of customers. Best way is the use Which?Switch for your specific estimated annual usage.