More energy customers will be included in the price cap that currently protects customers who have prepayment gas and electricity meters, energy regulator Ofgem announced this morning.
The ‘safeguard’ tariff will be extended to cover 1 million extra vulnerable households this winter.
If you’re among them, your energy bill will be cut by £120 over a year, for the average user.
Another 2 million vulnerable households will be given price protection on their bills for winter next year, Ofgem added, when details of the government’s price cap are confirmed.
This announcement comes the day before the government plans to publish a draft bill on its planned energy price cap.
All households, even those affected by the energy price cap, can get a better deal by switching. Compare gas and electric prices now – using Which? Switch to find the best deal for you.
Which? managing director of home products and services, Alex Neill, said: ‘As temperatures dip, today’s announcement will be welcome news to some of the UK’s most vulnerable households. The implementation of a market-wide price cap is clearly going to take some time, so it’s right that the regulator is looking to move quickly to protect the most vulnerable.
‘Energy companies must also do much more to engage their customers, helping them to switch to a better deal now. Only time will tell whether all of these interventions will really deliver better outcomes for consumers.’
Will you pay less for energy?
Ofgem said it plans to work with the government to give price protection to all customers on standard variable and other ‘default tariffs […] as soon as legislation is in place’.
If you haven’t switched energy supplier or changed your gas and electricity tariff recently, you’re likely to be on your energy firm’s standard – or out-of-contract – tariff. This is often among its most expensive, so you’ll be paying more than you need to for energy.
While the government’s draft bill goes through parliament, the energy regulator will consult on creating a ‘safeguard tariff’.
This would extend the current price cap for those with prepayment meters, to those receiving the Warm Home Discount. Ofgem plans for the extension to be in place by February 2018.
Chief executive of Ofgem, Dermot Nolan, said: ‘The government’s proposed bill to provide price protection to those who remain on poor-value default deals, such as the standard variable tariff, will give these households peace of mind about the price they pay for their energy.’
He also said that energy suppliers must make more effort to get more customers who are on default tariffs onto better deals. New rules will allow energy suppliers to move customers at the end of their fixed tariff onto another fixed deal, rather than onto a pricier standard tariff.
Update: SSE announced on the 6 November 2017 that its fixed-term deal customers will no longer be automatically rolled onto standard variable tariffs when their contract ends. Instead, they will move onto an ‘equivalent or cheaper fixed-term tariff, which would fix prices for 12 months with no exit fees’.
How much am I overpaying for energy?
The difference between the priciest Big Six standard tariff and the cheapest dual-fuel deal on the market is £346 per year for the average user.
Npower’s is the priciest Big Six standard tariff. The cheapest is from small energy firm Iresa.
Even if you’re on the cheapest standard tariff of the Big Six – British Gas – you’re still £281 out of pocket per year, compared with the cheapest energy deal you could choose.
Find out how to how to get the best energy deal.
Our energy price calculations are based on data from Energylinx, correct on 8 October, based on a medium user (using Ofgem averages of 3,100kWh electricity and 12,000kWh gas in a year), paying by monthly direct debit and paperless bills.