Energy firms have made a series of pledges they claim will aid consumers ahead of today's crunch summit to tackle rising costs.
The stand-out commitment is a promise from suppliers not to raise prices again this winter. However, further hikes would be an insult to millions who already pay hundreds of pounds a year more after two sets of increases over the past 12 months from the major power firms.
Today's crucial talks between Prime Minister David Cameron, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, consumer groups including MoneySavingExpert.com, the regulator and suppliers are aimed at curbing massive price rises. Cameron and Huhne today outlined their plans, which include simpler tariffs to encourage switching, writing exclusively for MoneySavingExpert.com.
Measures announced by some of the big six energy firms include:
- British Gas (BG), Eon, Npower and Scottish Power have said they won't raise energy prices this winter, though Npower's and Scottish Power's commitment is limited to those on the pair's standard tariff.
- BG will also launch a 'tariff checker' to help customers find the cheapest of its deals for them. Scottish Power will write to all customers who pay by cheque or cash to quote them cheaper deals it sells.
- Npower has joined BG and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) by revealing it will no longer use controversial doorstep selling tactics, often blamed for mis-selling, from the end of November.
- British Gas will extend its offer of free loft and wall insulation for its customers until the end of March 2012, which it says will save a typical household £200 a year. It was due to expire at the end of this month. Scottish Power says it will "undertake a significant programme to extend insulation amongst its customers, especially those most vulnerable".
SSE has already pledged not to hike prices before August 2012.
Phil Bentley, British Gas managing director, says: "With rising energy prices, hard-pressed households need extra help this winter."
Volker Beckers, Npower chief executive, says: "I know people want certainty on energy prices, so we will freeze the prices for all of our customers on standard residential tariffs for the coming winter.
"We have been reviewing our approach to doorstep selling and we will be stopping cold selling on the doorstep at the end of next month."
Eon chairman Paul Golby says: "Now is the time for action, not words, so let us be honest with consumers not just about the challenges we face from rising energy prices but also about what we can all do to help control consumers' bills.
"It is only by doing this that we will deliver the sustainable energy future we all wish to see."