EDF Energy has become the fifth of the Big Six energy firms to announce a price hike in recent weeks. The seasonal rush of energy cost announcements has become as much an indicator of the onset of winter as the first morning frosts and the clocks going back.
And with a 10.8% increase in the price of both gas and electricity scheduled to take effect from December 7, 2012, EDF Energy customers have been hit with this winter's biggest price hike.
E.On guaranteed it would not raise prices this year and so has still not joined the rest of the Big Six. But an announcement is expected soon given that January is just around the corner and energy firms must give customers 30 days' notice before implementing any increases.
And even if you're not with one of the Big Six energy providers you could still be faced with higher gas and electricity costs as smaller independent supplier Ovo has announced increases of 4.7% on its fixed rate energy tariff.
So what does this latest price hike mean for you if you are an EDF Energy customer? And is there anything you can do to avoid the increased costs? Let's take a look...
What will the latest price rise mean for you?
In cash terms, the 10.8% increase announced by EDF Energy will see customers on its standard variable tariff paying a whopping £120 more per year for their gas and electricity but the energy firm insists its new standard prices are still cheaper, on average, for typical use customers than those offered by all the other major suppliers that have announced price hikes thus far.
Ovo made a similar assertion to its customers following its price rises, assuring them that its tariff is still 13% cheaper than the average standard tariff from larger energy companies that have already initiated price hikes.
EDF Energy has also pulled its Blue + Price Promise May 2014 fixed energy tariff from the market and replaced it with a more expensive fixed product that runs until March 2015. The Blue + Fixed Price March 2015 deal will cost an average of £1,251 with typical consumption (for dual fuel customers paying by direct debit).
This product has an early termination fee of up to £35 per fuel for customers looking to change supplier before March 31, 2013 and a £15 exit fee up to March 31, 2014. After this date there is no early termination fee.
The company has acknowledged that no one wants to see price rises but says its hand has been forced by a combination of rising wholesale energy prices as well as substantial extra costs in the use of gas and electricity networks, mandatory energy efficiency and social schemes - none of which will come as any consolation to those affected by the price increases.
If you have become confused by the constant talk of changing tariffs and price structures, the table below could help to clarify things a little and help you see how you can save by switching.
|Provider||Average Standard Tariff||Online Tariffs||Fixed Tariff||Average Saving Fixed vs Standard|
|(effective 16.11.2012)||Online Variable August 2013||Fixed Price May 2014|
|(effective 07.12.2012)||Blue+ Price Promise March 2015|
|Energy Discount||Fixed 1 Year|
|(effective 26.11.2012)||Energy Online January 2014|
|(effective 03.12.2012)||Online Fixed Price Energy (April 2015)|
|Fixed Discount December 2014|
|New energy fixed (not available in Scott Hydro reg)|
Sourced by www.moneysupermarket.com 26.10.2012
Maximum saving = Most expensive vs cheapest online - £282.49
Maximum saving = Most expensive vs cheapest fixed - £226.28
What can you do to beat the price hikes?
The good news in all of this is that switching to a fixed rate online tariff could still save you money, and it's still not too late to move to a better deal.
You can use MoneySupermarket to search for the best tariff and make the switch online. It's a very straightforward process that does not require any changes to the pipes to that deliver fuel home, and there will no disruption to your service - your energy will be provided in exactly the same way, you will just be billed by a different provider.
To compare and switch, simply visit MoneySupermarket's energy channel and, when prompted, enter your address, details of your current supplier and energy usage and then the comparison tool will search for the best priced tariff to suit your demand and your budget - this alone could save you up to £200 per year.
But you must act now as the switching process can take anything up to six weeks and the energy providers are already replacing some of their products will more expensive alternatives.
The energy market regulator, Ofgem, is consulting on ways to make the market "simple, clearer and fairer" for consumers. You can read about its proposals here: http://www.moneysupermarket.com/c/news/energy-price-hikes-strike-financial-fear-into-uk-households/0015189/.
The government is also keen to see improvements in the way the energy market operates. It is currently drafting an Energy Bill, which is likely to be debate by Parliament early in 2013.
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