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The ‘truth’ behind energy price hike announcements

Price rises more likely to be revealed on a Friday

overdue utility bill

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Energy companies are far more likely to deliver bad news on a Friday, which is traditionally a busy news day – according to new research from Energy consultancy M&C Energy Group.

The research looked at announcements from the ‘Big Six’ energy companies (British Gas, EDF, Eon Energy, Npower, Scottish and Southern Energy and Scottish Power) between 2008 and 2010, and found that 64% of price rises were announced on a Friday, compared with just 7% on a Monday.

It’s a different story when it come to price cuts – these announcements are spread much more evenly across the week, with Friday being one of the least popular days.

Price hike notice period

Another trend highlighted by the research is that consumers are given less warning about impending price rises than price cuts – giving them less time to act.

M&C Energy Group analyst David Hunter explains: ‘In the last three years, suppliers have given customers an average of nine days’ notice of their intention to put up bills, but are making householders wait an average of twenty days for price discounts to come into effect.’

Scottish Power gave its 2.5 million customers just one week to absorb the news of its most recent price rises, leaving them very little time to shop around and switch supplier before the higher prices kick in.

Looking for a cheaper energy tariff? Compare energy prices using Which?’s free energy comparison and switching service, Which? Switch.

Winter blues

M&C’s research shows that since 2008, the majority of price increases were announced before winter, just in time to coincide with peak energy usage.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, 75% of price cuts were made at the end of March, to coincide with the return of warmer weather.

According to Which? Switch’s Tom McLennan: ‘Forget the first frost or the clocks going back, it seems winter has truly arrived once energy suppliers start hiking their prices.

‘Our research shows that half of people are already worried about paying their energy bills this winter. There’s nothing you can do about the weather, but you can minimise the impact of price rises on your finances by switching to the cheapest available tariff.’

Customers switching to a dual fuel tariff with Which? Switch between 24 March and 9 September 2010 saved an annual average of £270. If you’re unsure how to switch energy company, or are switching for the first time, read our guide on switching suppliers.

Lower your gas and electricity bills

You can compare energy prices and switch to a new gas and electricity supplier on Which? Switch. People who switched with us between 1 October and 31 December 2013 are predicted to save an average of £234 a year on their bills.

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