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Are you prepared for energy price rises?

Four big suppliers up their gas and electricity prices in March – with SSE and more to follow in April

March may be a month of milder temperatures, but it’s also the month where many of you will see your bills hit by energy price rises. So take action now – we’ve rounded up the top five cheapest energy deals to help you manage your gas and electricity spend.

Price hikes announced by EDF Energy, Good Energy, Npower and Scottish Power on their standard tariffs all come into force this month.

Npower’s 9.8% increase means its dual fuel customers will see their bills rise by around £109 per year, and make its standard tariff the third priciest on the market. But Good Energy’s price increase is bigger; 11%, or £118 per year.

Eon announced an 8.8% increase to its standard tariff earlier this week, adding £97 on average to dual fuel customers’ bills from 26 April. This will take the average dual fuel bill to £1,144 per year; the third priciest of the Big Six firms, after Npower and Scottish Power.

First Utility also announced a 9.7% price rise on its standard tariff, which will add £102 on average to customers’ bills from 1 April. Utilita and Co-operative Energy’s standard tariff price rises (2.9% and 5% respectively) come into effect for customers on the same day.

Ovo Energy also warned it’s increasing prices for pay-as-you-go dual fuel customers by 1.5% (£16) on average from the end of the month.

Update 13 March: SSE has announced it will increase its electricity prices by 14.9% from 28 April. Gas prices will stay the same. For the 2.8million dual fuel customer on its standard tariff, this equates to an average £73 bill increase (6.9%) a year. SSE blamed the increasing cost of supplying electricity for its price rise.

If you’re on a standard (out of contract) energy deal with any of these companies, their price rises will affect you. But you can switch your deal now to avoid them completely – or at least reduce the amount of time you’re paying a premium.

Use our independent switching site, Which? Switch, to find the cheapest energy deal for you in spring. If you’d prefer to call, you can phone Which? Switch on 0800 410 1149 or 01259 220235.

Save £353 on your energy bill

Whether your energy supplier is one of those raising its prices – or even if you’re with British Gas, which has promised to freeze its standard tariff prices until August – you can save money on your gas and electricity bills.

Our analysis this month reveals you’d make the biggest saving – of £353 per year – if you’re an Npower standard tariff customer switching to the cheapest deal on the market.

Check the table below for the top five cheapest dual fuel deals available around the UK in March 2017.

Fixing your energy prices for a year or more is usually the best way to save money – and gives you peace of mind that the price you pay won’t change even if energy prices go up.

If you’d prefer the flexibility to be able to change whenever you see a cheaper deal, the tariffs from Iresa and Tonik Energy have no exit fee so you can do exactly that. Toto Energy’s tariff in the table below is a variable deal so you can also switch whenever you wish.

Top five cheapest energy deals for March 2017

 Supplier Tariff Annual price Tariff type Exit fee Saving from priciest Big Six standard tariff (Npower) Saving from cheapest Big Six standard tariff (British Gas)
 Iresa  Flex4 12month Fixed Direct Debit – Paperless  £834  Fixed  n/a  £353  £210
 Economy Energy  Direct Saver 2017 (v3) – Paperless  £843  Fixed  £50 (£25 per fuel)  £344  £202
 Tonik Energy  Positive Energy v2 – Paperless  £880  Fixed  n/a  £307  £164
 Toto Energy  Go with the flow – Smart direct Debit – Paperless  £880  Variable  n/a  £307  £164
 So Energy  So Hippo – Paperless  £880  Fixed  £10 (£5 per fuel)  £306  £164

How these prices are calculated: Prices are based on a dual-fuel tariff for an average user (using 3,100kWh of electricity and 12,500kWh of gas per year), paying by direct debit and are averaged across all regions. Exact prices can vary according to region, usage and payment method. The prices given in the table above are correct as of 5 March 2017.

Toto Energy’s deal requires you to have a smart meter. All tariffs in the table above are paperless; you must view your bills online. You can usually request paper bills, but this is more expensive.

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There are now 48 energy companies for you to choose from, according to energy regulator Ofgem. Each month we see a new supplier or two join the market. The most recent are Breeze Energy and Engie. North East England-based Breeze Energy says its mission is to help customers use less energy, while Engie is a business energy supplier which has just started offering gas and electricity tariffs to homes.

Engie says it heated London’s Olympic Park with sustainable woodchip and has fitted council buildings with solar panels. Its four tariffs include a 100% renewable energy deal. Its cheapest deal (Engie Fixed June 18 v2) costs £949 on average for dual fuel, making it £115 pricier than the cheapest deal this month.

Smaller energy company Ebico is now solely supplied by Robin Hood Energy. This recent announcement ends its partnership with Big Six supplier SSE. Ebico said its ‘strategies no longer align’ with SSE and it will be discontinuing its EquiGas and EquiPower tariffs.

If you’re a customer on one of these plans, Ebico will contact you. You can choose either to take its new EbicoZero tariff (which has no standing charge, like previous Ebico tariffs), or continue on your current tariff with SSE. Ebico came third in our latest energy companies satisfaction survey and says its new tariff is cheaper for 90% of customers.

(All pricing data is supplied by Energylinx, and based on a dual-fuel medium user [3,100kWh electricity and 12,500kWh gas per year], paying by monthly direct debit and choosing paperless billing. Prices are averaged across UK regions and correct on 5 March 2017.)

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