Switching hour for energy customers as Scottish and Southern raises prices

25 March 2008 / by Joy Tibbs
Now could be a good time to switch energy provider now that the playing field has levelled out. Scottish and Southern is to follow in the footsteps of the other five energy prices and substantially increase prices. Its gas prices will rise 15.8 per cent on April 1, while electricity costs will increase 14.2 per cent.

USwitch points out that the (£131) increase to dual fuel bills will see average bills rise from £875 to £1,006. Furthermore, the comparison site is not ruling out further major price hikes this year. It predicts that energy prices could rise by a further 10 per cent, or £105, by the end of the year.

This would leave the average dual fuel energy bill at £1,153. However, according to uSwitch, online energy plans can be £187, or 18 per cent, cheaper than standard plans per year and £218, or 20 per cent, cheaper than pre-payment meter tariffs.

Head of home services, Tim Wolfenden, says: "There are still savings of up to £325 to be made by switching. So, check out the options, make sure you are getting the best deal for your household and try to reduce energy usage – in a time of rising prices this will be your best hope.”

MoneySavingExpert.com founder, Martin Lewis, says: "Until now, it was the only major player which hadn't hiked prices, as it froze tariff increases until March 30. Price rises tend to come in tranches, as providers have a herd mentality; once one puts its price up, the rest follow.

"If you compare in a period of flux, it's likely you’ll move to someone whose price is about to jump. Yet, right now, if you do a comparison, the playing field is as level as it's ever going to be. It's time to switch and save now."

He adds that consumers can benefit from incentives such as cashback if they switch energy provider as companies vie for new business.

"It only takes five minutes to switch energy supplier, saving you up to 20 per cent plus there’s a way to get paid to do it. The easy way to switch is via a free comparison service; just tell it where you live and how big your bills are and it’ll tell you who’s cheapest."

Which? also agrees that now could be the right time for consumers to re-evaluate whether their provider is giving them the best deal, in the same way that people regularly compare phone tariffs and car insurance deals at renewal time.

Siobhan Parker from Switch with Which? says: "This latest price increase is the green light to switch - everyone’s feeling the post-budget pinch and making sure you’re getting the best deal for your home energy is a smart and easy way to take some of the pressure off. If you haven’t compared your rate with the competition lately, now is the time."

Ms Parker also offers tips such as considering buying gas and electricity from the same supplier, paying by Direct Debit and asking for paperless billing, as these can also help to save money.

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