Energy prices have doubled in the last eight years, with the average annual dual fuel bill for a standard tariff now costing £1,353, according to price comparison site uSwitch.
The difference between the cheapest and most expensive deals is as much as £200 a year. The cheapest tariff on the market costs £1,116 based on average energy use and the cheapest fixed rate deal costs £1,170.
British Gas said earlier this year that its 12 million residential customers can expect to see price increases and it is very likely that when its price rises are announced, other firms will follow.
It takes four to six weeks to switch energy providers, so it is important to start the process as soon as you have identified a suitable tariff so that you can be on the best deal when your usage goes up.
Clare Francis, consumer expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: "The energy companies have said loud and clear that price hikes are on their way. The only unknown factor is exactly when these will happen.”
As prices increase, the best fixed rate deals currently available will gradually be withdrawn, so experts are advising consumers to sign up to the best value fixed rate deals before they are pulled from the market.
Fixed rate deals mean you pay the same unit price for gas and electricity for the duration of the deal and can protect households from the expected price increases.
The prices are usually a little higher than the best variable price deals because you pay a small premium to be protected from price increases.
Many households are coming to the end of fixed rate deals and could be in for a big shock this winter unless they scour the market and switch to a competitive deal before winter arrives and energy usage increases.
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, said: “While most consumers are cost-conscious and therefore probably tempted to take the cheapest fixed price deal they can find, I would urge them to think longer-term too. The longest fixed price tariff will future-proof your bills for over three years.”
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