Millions of households face a sharp rise in the cost of gas and electricity as the first of the summer price hikes comes into force.

Scottish Power is today raising electricity prices by a typical 10% and gas prices by a whopping 19% on average, in a bitter blow to 2.4 million households.

Key Points

  • Prices to jump by typical 19% for many
  • British Gas and SSE hikes to come
  • Other suppliers expected to follow

The rise affects all Scottish Power customers other than the 700,000 on a fixed or capped deal and will see typical dual fuel bills (where both gas and electricity is supplied) soar by a mammoth £175 a year.

British Gas is raising prices by up to 18% on 18 August, while Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) will increase rates by up to 18% on 14 September.

The trio blame a rise in the cost of wholesale energy (the power they buy to then sell to us).

EDF, Eon and Npower are all expected to increase the cost of power but have yet to announce their plans.

Escape lock-ins

British Gas and SSE customers can escape from variable tariffs that appear to lock them in, if they'd benefit from switching.

Many gas and electricity deals come with an exit fee of up to £100 (though typically around £60) for those who leave before the term of the deal ends.

But where a supplier puts prices up, because that results in a contract change that's detrimental, rules from regulator Ofgem mean many consumers don't need to pay that penalty as long as they inform their power firm they wish to switch before the increase.

Therefore, it is now too late for Scottish Power customers.

The amnesty does not apply to those on a fixed rate deal because the price of their tariff will not rise, due to the nature of the product.