The energy affordability crisis continues to affect household finances as the nation plummets into fuel poverty. The high price of paying for energy means that many simply cannot afford to pay their bills.
To make matters worse some of leading big six suppliers have announced profits following mass price hikes in the autumn.
nPower hiked its prices last November by 8.8% for gas and 9.1% for electricity – pushing its average dual fuel bill up £108 from £1,244 to £1,352 a year. At the time of increasing its prices, nPower blamed external factors, such as Government policy, for driving up costs.
“These profits will make customers wonder exactly why nPower had to hit them with a hefty price hike this winter,” said Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com
“It’s a valid question and nPower customers deserve a valid answer, especially those who were forced to go cold this winter for fear of the cost of heating their home.”
At the same time British Gas has also announced profits. The UK’s major supplier hiked its gas and electricity prices this winter by 6% or £76, taking its average dual fuel bill up from £1,260 to £1,336 a year.
At the time of increasing its prices, British Gas blamed rising wholesale prices, as well as higher costs to upgrade the national grid and to deliver the Government’s policies for a clean, efficient Britain. It also warned of a further £60 to be added to bills this year.
“Asking customers to swallow a 6% winter price hike and then unveiling a 11% increase in profits is tantamount to waving a red rag at a bull,” Mrs Robinson added.
“Yes there is a huge amount of investment required to keep the lights on over the next ten years, but there has to be a balance between energy companies making healthy profits and people going cold for fear of the cost of turning their heating on. While British Gas makes a strong case about future investment, jobs and security, I suspect there will be little sympathy, especially amongst those who have shivered at home this winter.”
With prices for gas and electricity soaring, consumers are looking at ways to reduce their energy bills. Here are three ways you can reduce yours.
One sure fire way to reduce your energy bills is by shopping around for a better deal. By shopping around for a better deal you could save hundreds of pounds on your annual household bills.
Figures show that just four in 10 consumers trust their energy suppliers. Almost half (48%) of those who do not trust their suppliers say it’s because they do not offer good value for money, with 37% blaming a lack of transparency.
The government and the energy watchdog Ofgem has called for greater transparency in the industry to help customers get a better deal.
Be energy efficient
There are loads of ways to become more energy efficient and reduce your overall energy consumption. From making sure your windows and doors are draught-proof, to ensuring that heat is not lost, to replacing lightbulbs with energy saving ones. If you replace just one traditional incandescent light bulb with a compact florescent energy-saving light bulb, you could save around £3 a year, or £55 in its lifetime.
You can take steps to reduce your energy consumption in every room of the house. While remembering to turn off the lights and only partially filling up the kettle will help, getting a new boiler or fully insulating your loft and cavity walls will save you a lot more.
Insulating cavity walls can save around £135 a year and solid wall insulation, although more expensive to fit, could save you £445 to £475 a year.
Energy saving grants
There are loads of grants available to you from the government and many local authorities which help to implement energy saving measures. The Energy Saving Trust lists a number of green deal grants and information on financial support if you want to consider installing renewable energy.
Local authorities may also provide energy-saving grants or other offers for local residents to install certain energy efficiency measures in their home. Call your local authority to see if there is any help available in your area.