British households could be in for a post-Christmas shock when their energy bill arrives in January, uSwitch has warned, as the annual energy bill at the start of 2010 will be 36 per cent higher than in January 2009.
Despite the four per cent cut in energy prices this year, they have not been significant enough to counteract the previous 42 per cent hike in the cost of household gas and electricity in 2008, when bill payers saw their average annual bill shoot up from £912 in January 2008 to £1,293 12 months later.
Consequently, bill payers could really notice the difference after Christmas, when the heating is turned up while people spend more time in the home.
Heating accounts for 42 per cent of household energy expenditure, representing an average £520 of a home's annual energy bills, which now stands at £1,239 – a £327 rise compared to January 2009.
But while energy bills are burning a hole in householders' pockets, they can save an average £300 on the standard tariff by opting for an online energy plan, the comparison website claims, bringing their bills back down to January 2008 levels.
Will Marples, energy expert at uSwitch.com, urges households to seek out the best deals, rather than waiting for the industry to cut the cost of energy for consumers.
"Rather than sitting back and hoping for further reductions we can all give ourselves a substantial price cut on our energy bills today," he said. "Moving to dual fuel, paying by direct debit and signing up to an online plan will all help save money."
There are other things households can do to cut the cost of energy bills this winter, uSwitch suggests, such as taking regular meter readings, insulating their homes, switching off appliances when not in use, especially overnight, turning down the heat by just one degree, investing in draught excluders, and fitting energy saving lightbulbs.
Switching to an online energy tariff is a simple way of saving money, Mr Marples continued, but only five per cent of UK households are currently on them, so a lot more people could be saving money by following suit.
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