Energy giant British Gas is pledging to use increased profits from the bitter winter to keep prices on hold — for the time being.

The dismal weather meant average residential gas consumption was up 18% higher in the first four months of 2013, compared with the same period in 2012.

British Gas promised to avoid any further price increases for "as long as possible". But it stopped short of announcing a formal price freeze for a defined period (see our Cheap Energy Club and Cheap Gas and Electricity guides to keep your bills down).

Parent company Centrica says in a statement: "Recognising the economic pressures facing many of our customers, the board has determined any benefit arising from the exceptionally cold weather will be used to maintain our price competitiveness.

"As a result of this decision, we expect the residential energy supply business to deliver an operating profit for the full year in line with expectations, weighted towards the first half.

"We will use that to effectively hold prices for as long as possible."

Hiked prices

British Gas raised prices by 6% in December 2012, just before the cold weather set in. All the big six energy firms hiked prices last winter, and more rises have been predicted for later this year.

The company says it gained 28,000 customers during that time.