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Consumers left in the cold as fixed energy tariffs end

19th February 2017 Print

With three of the Big Six announcing price hikes for standard variable customers in the last couple of weeks, new insight from MoneySuperMarket reveals 77 fixed energy deals are set to expire before the end of April, meaning thousands of customers are at risk of being rolled on to more expensive tariffs in the coming months.

EDF, npower, Scottish Power, and SSE are among those with tariffs finishing, alongside deals from smaller suppliers such as Spark and Extra Energy. When fixed energy deals end providers roll customers on to their standard variable tariffs, which are typically their most expensive. As such, those affected could see bills rise by as much as £193. 

For most of these households there’s still time to switch to another fixed rate deal now, before their existing deal ends. The end-to-end switching process can take up to three weeks but is often quicker, so those on one of the 24 tariffs ending at the end of February will need to act quickly, otherwise they risk facing a period of inflated prices before their switch takes effect. There are a further 30 deals expiring on the 31st March, and 23 finishing at the end of April.

Most fixed energy deals include exit penalties designed to deter customers from switching during the fixed period. However these cannot be charged within 45 days of the tariff end-date, so customers have over six weeks to switch, penalty-free, before their tariff ends.

Stephen Murray, energy expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: “The energy market is really unpredictable at the moment and a huge part of that is rising prices. In June last year the cheapest deals were below £750, whereas currently the average cost of the top 10 cheapest tariffs is £880 (that’s an 18 per cent rise in less than a year). It is worth noting that these deals still represent a significant saving on standard variable tariffs. 

“Bill-payers on expiring tariffs should act now to lock in new fixed deals and avoid being rolled on to standard variable tariffs which are only going to go up.Likewise those who are already on variable tariffs should move on to fixed deals to avoid huge bill-hikes in a few months’ time. The British Gas price freeze may sound like a fair alternative, but customers are still overpaying by around £170 and so the message is the same – don’t rest on your laurels, standard tariffs still remain among the most expensive. It only takes a few minutes to swap providers to save almost £200 each year.”