Households that switched to a cheap, fixed energy tariff before the big six suppliers hiked prices this winter will have saved serious cash, research shows. urged consumers to consider locking into a cheap fix throughout the summer, before the hikes were announced.

When Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) became the first major firm to announce a rise in August, we intensified that call.

Now, research from energy comparison site shows the average household with dual fuel (gas and electricity from the same provider) that locked into a cheap fixed deal in August would have paid £1,040 a year.

That's £130 less than switching to the cheapest fix now, at a typical £1,170.

They would also be £80 a year better off than if they stuck with a variable tariff, as typical costs are now £1,120 a year.

The table below shows how those who fixed cheaply have benefited:

How fixers have won (i)

  August price Price now Increase
Cheapest variable tariff £1,050 £1,120 £70
Cheapest fix £1,040 £1,170 £130
Typical bill, non-switcher £1,310 £1,400 £90

(i) Based on annual prices. Source: consumer products analyst Archna Luthra says: "Fixing when price hikes are imminent is usually a no-brainer, as these figures show. Savings can be big, plus fixing protects you against future price hikes.

"While the cost of fixing now isn't as cheap, it's still worth considering if you want surety. One to watch is EDF's Blue June 2014 tariff, which ensures no price hikes for two winters and has no exit fees if you want to leave early.

"Either way, EVERYONE should look at switching tariff now. The timing's perfect as there's a level playing field and savings of up to £300 are up for grabs."

Switch and save

Those who've never switched and are on their providers' standard tariff are the biggest losers, paying on average £1,400 now for energy. A typical household can save almost £300 a year switching, as the table above shows.

Price rises of up to 10.8% announced by all of the big six energy providers, barring Eon, have already come into force this winter hitting millions of customers. Eon's hike will hit on 18 January.