British Gas will hike gas prices by an average 18% and electricity 16% from 18 August in a blow to 9 million households, it announced today.

The energy giant is the second of the big six to increase prices after Scottish Power announced last month it will hike gas prices by 19% and electricity by 10% from 1 August. It's likely the remaining four big suppliers will follow shortly.

Key Points

  • British Gas to hike gas prices by 18% and electricity by 16%
  • Huge increases to hit customers pockets from 18 August, following Scottish Power up-to-19% rises on 1 Aug
  • Adds 190/yr to avg. bill. Millions should consider fixing prices now.

For details on how and whether to switch, see the Cheap Gas & Electricity guide.

While average hikes are 18% on gas and 16% on electricity, comparison site Energyhelpline has calculated some on dual fuel tariffs will be hit with rises as high as 25%.

Those on its fixed tariffs won't be affected, but the hike will hit vulnerable customers on pre-payment tariffs and British Gas's social tariff, Essentials. It's estimated the hike will add an average 190/year on the average bill.

British Gas blames the rises on increasing wholesale prices and a higher global demand for gas, as well as the difficult economic climate.

Urgently consider fixing

Martin Lewis, creator says: "This has been widely flagged and there is no doubt now that, following Scottish Power's announcement a few weeks ago, we are in the midst of the latest price hikes round. The other big four suppliers are likely to hike within the next month - unless one holds off for a bit as a competitive ploy to win on the comparison sites.

"Those on standard tariffs, regardless of which supplier they have, should consider fixing as they're likely to both save money and insure against price rises.

"Yet there is a real urgency if you're going to fix as, when prices are rising, cheap fixed deals are often speedily pulled and replaced with costlier ones. It's important to get in before the window shuts."

With a fix or cap, the price per unit of energy cannot rise during the term of a deal, usually between one and two years.

A fix guarantees your rate won't rise for a set period, eg, two years. Millions of people on standard tariffs could typically save 150+ a year by fixing, even before these price hikes.

To find the best tariff, compare the options available via a comparison site (see the Cheap Gas & Electricity guide).