Families face surprise rise in energy bills

Eight fixed-rate energy tariffs, including bestselling options with British Gas and EDF Energy, are scheduled to expire at the end of this month, with customers who fail to switch beforehand automatically bumped on to their supplier’s standard rate tariff.

Those who fail to switch will see their bills rise by an average of £77 a year with others facing an even sharper increase, according to GoCompare.com, the price comparison website.

The Times reports that the increases to household bills come as the cost of energy is plunging in wholesale markets.

Brent crude prices — which strongly influence the price of gas and power — slumped below $48 yesterday, close to their lowest level in six years.

“Households in the east Midlands and who are on the EDF Energy Blue+ Price Promise August 2015 tariff will be hit the hardest, with a huge £136.59 (13.62 per cent) rise when they are automatically switched to the EDF Energy standard tariff,” GoCompare said in a release.

The website noted that some customers at British Gas and Sainsbury’s Energy could see their bills fall by up to £60 when the tariff ends.

A spokeswoman for EDF Energy, the French government-controlled company, said that all of its fixed-rate customers would be contacted in advance and presented with a range of options. She said that there were no penalties for customers who choose to switch at a later date from a standard rate tariff.

“There is always plenty of opportunity to switch,” Tim Cowen, a spokesman for British Gas, the UK’s biggest energy supplier, said.

Lawrence Slade, the chief executive of Energy UK, said: “As a large number of fixed energy deals come to an end and with competition pushing prices down, we are urging customers to make sure they shop around for a new tariff that suits them best. New fixed-price deals are able to take advantage of short-term changes in costs and usually offer lower prices than the standard deals, many £100 cheaper than a year ago. The important thing for customers to remember is there are a wide range of deals available from over 20 suppliers.”