British Gas customers could escape energy price hikes this year, as the firm says it doesn't expect to change prices during 2014.

Its owner, Centrica, believes prices will stay the same because of "benign" conditions in the energy market as well as competition from its rivals in the UK.

The firm adds that the average British Gas residential energy bill was around 10% lower this winter than last, with average consumption of gas and electricity down by 25% and 10% respectively in the first four months of the year (join our free Cheap Energy Club to cut prices).

Centrica's chief executive Sam Laidlaw says he expects the average British Gas household energy bill to be lower in 2014 than in 2013. This is down to this winter's mild weather as well as the firm's expectation that it won't change energy prices.

But while the price Centrica pays for gas and electricity has declined since the start of this year, the firm expects upward pressure next year from increasing network charges and higher costs associated with renewable energy.

British Gas last upped prices by a whopping 9% on average in November 2013, as part of a round of winter bill rises in the industry.

Rival Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has already pledged to freeze household gas and electricity prices until January 2016 amid intense political lobbying on energy companies over rising bills and profits (see the SSE freezes prices until 2016 MSE News story).

Compare prices now and switch

However, today's announcement isn't an excuse for existing customers to remain with British Gas, or for other users to switch to it, unless it offers the best tariff for them.

In fact, you could save more by moving to a cheaper or longer fixed tariff elsewhere. As you can see from the table below, British Gas's tariffs don't currently feature in our cheapest fixed deals.

Energy prices vary depending on how much you use and where you live, so use our free Cheap Energy Club to find the best tariff for you.

Cheapest fixed deals

  Fixed for/until Supplier Exit fee Cost/yr
Avg standard tariff (1) - - - £1,180
Costly standard deal (2) - - - £1,300
Cheapest short fix 31 July 2015 First Utility* - £994
Cheap short fix (3) 1 year Ovo* £30 p/fuel £998
Longer cheap fix: 31 July 2017 EDF* None £1,210
Longest cheap fix: 31 Mar 2018 Npower* None £1,250
These are average prices based on typical usage, not available for prepay. All tariffs assume monthly direct debit. Varies by region. (1) Estimated average across big six. (2) Npower, non-direct debit. (3) Direct debits taken in advance.

Additional reporting by the Press Association.

* Using these links helps the site stay free to use, as they're ‘affiliated links’ which invisibly take you usually via affiliate linkage or commercial money sites, which then pay this site. You shouldn’t notice any difference, the links don't impact the product at all and the editorial line (the things we write) is NEVER impacted by the revenue. If it isn't possible to get an affiliate link for the best product, it is still recommended and still included. The following links, EDF, First Utility, Npower and Ovo are identical unaffiliated links provided for the sake of transparency. Click on the following link for more details on how this site's financed.