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Huhne: Shop around for fuel deals

Consumers should spend more time shopping around for deals if they want cheaper fuel bills, the Energy Secretary said.

Chris Huhne said families "do not bother" to hunt for bargains on gas and electricity, but could save enough money for a weekend break if they did.

In an interview with the Times, the Liberal Democrat said: "They frankly spend less time shopping around for a bill that's on average more than £1,000 a year than they would shop around for a £25 toaster. If they got that in perspective and said, 'OK, we are going to spend a little bit of time shopping around' (they) could save very substantial amounts of money."

He said 85% of households do not shop around, and challenged customers not to "just sit back and take it and succumb to the myth that all energy tariffs are the same".

His comments came after energy firm EDF announced a 15.4% jump in gas tariffs as it became the last of the major suppliers to put up prices. Average electricity tariffs will also rise by 4.5% in changes that will come into effect on November 10 and reflect rising wholesale energy, network and other costs.

EDF's decision means that all of the big six power suppliers have now raised their tariffs for the coming winter.

The firm said the higher charges will add about 33p a day to a dual-fuel bill, while the annual cost of a standard dual-fuel bill paid for by direct debit will rise to £1,165 against £1,051 previously.

Mr Huhne has reportedly asked regulator Ofgem to pursue a complaint that the large energy companies are squeezing out smaller suppliers with impossibly cheap deals.

He told the Times he was "absolutely in favour" of people making a lot of money in a fair and competitive environment, but against people doing so by abusing a position of dominance.

The Energy Secretary also said a 27% rise in world gas prices in the past year was largely to blame for bill increases, the newspaper reported.


From Belfast Telegraph