British Gas, Britain’s biggest energy company, announced today that it will increase its gas and electricity prices for customers on its standard tariff.
Affected customers will see their dual-fuel energy bill rise from £1,101 to £1,161 on average per year, after the increase takes effect on 29 May.
The increase means British Gas’ standard tariff will be the second most expensive of the Big Six firms.
You can beat the price increase. Use our independent energy site, Which? Switch, to compare gas and electricity prices to find the best deal for you.
Or you can call us on 0800 410 1149 or 01259 220235.
Update 12 Apr: EDF Energy has also announced a price rise for customers on its standard variable electricity tariff.
British Gas customers: find out if you’re affected
The price increase affects the 4.1 million customers on British Gas’ standard variable tariff. If your fixed deal has ended, or you haven’t changed tariff for a number of years, you are likely to be on the standard variable tariff.
If you have a fixed energy deal, the price you pay for energy will stay fixed at your current rate until the end of the tariff.
Customers who have prepayment energy meters, or receive the Warm Home Discount, are not affected by the increase either.
To find out which energy tariff you’re on, check your latest bill or your online account.
What British Gas customers should do
If you’re on British Gas’ standard tariff, your bill will be 5.5% higher over the next year if you take no action.
The average customer will pay £1,161 per year. That’s around £350 more per year than the cheapest deal on the market for a customer using the same amount of gas and electricity.
Instead, compare gas and electricity prices to find out how much you could save on energy – and switch to a cheaper deal.
The price increase begins on 29 May, so you have time to switch to a cheaper gas and electricity deal before then. The standard tariff has no exit fees so you are free to switch to a cheaper deal any time.
If you want to stay with British Gas, you could still save up to £189 per year by switching from its current standard tariff price to its current cheapest fixed tariff. After the price rise, you’ll save up to £249 per year.
But are there better energy companies out there? We reveal the best and worst energy companies.
British Gas fixed deal customers
From 31 March, no new customers can join British Gas’ standard variable tariff. Existing customers are being contacted to encourage them to choose a fixed-term deal.
If you’re on a fixed-term deal already, remember to choose a new deal when it’s coming to an end. Forget, and it could cost you.
This is because you will be automatically moved onto a 12-month fixed ‘default’ tariff (called the Temporary Tariff), if you don’t choose a new energy deal. This tariff will be among British Gas’ priciest tariffs – and just £30 cheaper per year than its standard tariff.
The price of this tariff is increasing from 29 May too – it’ll cost you £1,136 on average per year.
Why is British Gas increasing energy prices?
British Gas says the 5.5% increase is mainly due to rising wholesale energy costs and policy costs.
The chief executive of Centrica’s consumer division, Mark Hodges, said: ‘We fully understand that any price increase adds extra pressure on customers’ household bills. This increase we are announcing today is reflective of the costs we are seeing which are beyond our control.’
Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: ‘This price rise will be a bitter blow for customers who have now seen their bills hiked by an average of £136 in nine months. They won’t care about who is to blame, but they will question why they’re being squeezed financially without seeing any difference in the value or service they’re receiving.
‘Before the energy price cap comes into effect later this year, customers still stuck on poor value standard tariffs should look to switch now.’
Gas and electricity price rises
British Gas isn’t the only energy company to have increased its prices. Big Six rival Eon withdrew discounts for dual-fuel and paperless billing customers, and it increased the standing charge for those paying by cash or cheque. Collectively, these could add £50 to some customers’ bills each year.
Our energy pricing research
Prices are based on a dual-fuel tariff available in all regions in England, Scotland and Wales for an average user (using Ofgem averages of 3,100kWh of electricity and 12,000kWh of gas per year), paying by monthly direct debit, with paperless bills. Data is from Energylinx. Prices given are averages across regions, are rounded to the nearest whole pound and correct on 5 April 2018.