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Now’s the time to switch

Price cuts mean customers should check their deal

Gas hob

Gas is the most widely used heating fuel in the UK

Following Npower’s decision to cut prices earlier this week, switching site Which? Switch has advised gas and electricity customers that now is a good time to check that they’re still getting the best deal on their energy.

Npower’s announcement of an 8% reduction on its electricity costs followed similar moves from rivals British Gas, Scottish Power, Scottish & Southern, EDF Energy and Eon over the first few months of the new year.

Prices remain high

Due to hefty price hikes on the price of gas (average 28.7%) and electricity (14%), the cost of gas and electricity is still higher than it was this time last year – despite the recent announcements.

And while all suppliers have announced some kind of price cut, not all have reduced the price of gas and electricity. Five of the big six suppliers have reduced customers’ electricity bills (by an average of 7.5%), but just three suppliers have lowered their gas prices (by 7% on average).

Only Scottish Power and Scottish & Southern have cut both gas and electricity prices.

Npower

August 08: gas increased by 26%, electricity by 14%
March 09: electricity reduced by 8%, gas not reduced (new prices effective from 31 March)

Scottish Power

August 08: gas increased by 34%, electricity by 9%
March 09: electricity reduced by 3%, gas by 7.5% (new prices effective from 31 March)

EDF Energy

July 08: gas increased by 22%, electricity by 17%
January 09: electricity reduced by 8.8% (not in all regions), gas not reduced (new prices effective from 31 March)

British Gas

July 08: gas increased by 35%, electricity by 9%
January 09: gas reduced by 10%, electricity not reduced (new prices effective from 31 March)

Scottish & Southern

August 08: gas increased by 29.2%, electricity by 19.2%
January 09: gas reduced by 9%, electricity by 4% (new prices effective from 30 March)

Eon

August 08: gas increased by 26%, electricity by 16%
January 09: electricity reduced by 9%, electricity not reduced (new prices effective from 31 March)

Take action

Alison Morrison from Which? Switch said: ‘Although we welcome the price reductions, they are minimal and will not cover the massive energy price rises last year. With the exception of British Gas, customers will have to wait until the end of March for the discounts to take effect.’

‘We have experienced a particularly cold winter and consumers will see their largest bills of the year. We are urging people to take action by comparing and switching suppliers, tariffs or the way you pay your bill to save money. If you are paying by quarterly cash or cheque, there are definitely savings that can be made by managing your account online and paying by direct debit’.

Find the best deal

Which? Switch, the free, impartial switching service from Which?, lets you compare prices and see suppliers’ satisfaction ratings. On average, customers who used Which? Switch saved £257 in a year, based on figures gathered between August and December 2008.

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