Gas and electricity customers urged to shop around following meager price cuts

23 February 2009 / by Rachel Mason
Last year's gas and electricity price hikes saw the average energy bill rise by 42 per cent, and this year's cuts are going to do little to bring them back down, warns uSwitch.com.

The price comparison site claims that fuel poverty has rocketed to 5.4million, and with price cuts this year of 4.5 per cent on average, only 180,000 households who are currently struggling with their gas and electricity bills are likely to feel any respite.

So far, British Gas, Scottish and Southern, EDF energy and E.ON have all promised to cut energy bills this year, but Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, says it is not enough, and is asking the Government to step in.

"Average reductions of 4.5 per cent or £60 won't even scratch the surface," she warns. "This issue is huge, affecting around 2 in 10 households. If the Government is to stand any chance of getting to grips with fuel poverty it has to take decisive action today."

But, says Ms Robinson, although energy prices are still far too high, for many households, simply switching to a different deal could help bring costs right down.

"All households can help themselves by ensuring they are paying the lowest possible price for their energy and learning to use less of it," said Ms Robinson. "Moving to dual fuel, paying by direct debit and signing up to an online plan will lower the price straight away."

While Gareth Kloet, head of utilities at Confused.com says customers should be voting with their feet, advising people to switch energy provider to show suppliers that what they are currently doing is just not good enough.

"If customers want to make larger savings, they need to take matters into their own hands and choose a supplier and tariff that rewards them for their custom. My advice to all energy customers is to start looking at what deals are out there now," he said.

"While switching suppliers is quick and easy for the customer, it can take up to 28 days for the energy suppliers to complete the switch. Therefore, customers should be considering switching as soon as possible to make the most of the savings available in the energy market.

"Customers don't need to wait until the price changes become effective; they can and should act today," he urged.

Find out how much you could save on your energy bills – compare gas and electricity quotes

© Fair Investment Company Ltd