Average Dual Fuel Prices Highest Ever
Despite recent reductions in gas prices the average electricity and gas bill for UK households has increased by around £57 since last year.
With the coldest winter in the UK for 31 years the bills for around half of the UK population are being sent out now and may be a shock to many to see their average electricity and gas bill having risen by £57 to £533 for the last cold quarter.
Since 2004 there have been sustained rises in the price charged to homeowners by all the major energy companies and although Ofgem say the overall average electricity and gas bill is around £1,233 which is a small 6% cheaper than a year ago but plenty higher than the £912 from just 2 years ago. And this average is likely to increase because of the long cold winter that the country has just come through.
Compare this to the fact that wholesale energy prices have fallen by around 50% in the last 18 months and you would think that the government or the industry regulator would have stepped in by now to do something about the prices being charged. But they will not.
The position the country is in right now is that due to various government commitments on energy efficiency and targeting more energy to be derived from renewable sources that investment has to be made by the energy companies which will mean higher bills for many more years to come.
Even the government recognises that there have been “sustained price rises” for consumers over the past 6 years as a comment made by junior energy minister David Kidney recently but they believe a referral to the competition commission would “delay investment in UK infrastructure”
Add to this that more and more homeowners are now in the grip of fuel poverty (where if you spend more than 10% of your income on fuel bills you are classed as fuel poor) and the picture on these costs are not so great. And this figure has actually doubled since 2004.
A Commons motion tabled by Labour’s John Grogan calling for an inquiry into the relationship between wholesale prices and retail prices offered by the “Big 6” energy suppliers, British Gas, E.ON,EDF Energy, npower, Scottish and Southern, and Scottish Power, has so far been signed by 135 MPs but no progress has been made on this and may not for some time.
So what can you do if your bills are sky-rocketing ?
There are two elements – your pricing and your consumption.
- For pricing – you should see if you are on the best tariff for your postcode by using one of the energy price comparison sites to see if you can cut the cost of the price the electricity and gas is supplied to your home. Certainly if you are on a standard tariff and pay your bill by cheque or cash then you are wasting money.
- For consumption and energy efficiency– you can invest into energy saving lightbulbs and home insulation to keep costs down but also think about getting an energy monitor or smart meter installed (many for free on some tariffs – especially British Gas) so you can see at a glance when energy is being used in your home and perhaps make changes in how you use electricity and gas
High average bills are here to stay as it’s unlikely much will happen to force the energy companies to cut the prices they charge consumers so it’s up to all of us to both find the cheapest tariff available and to manage and cut our overall consumption of what we are using.