npower sees surge in complaints

Npower customers will see 2.6% clipped off the average bill this week according to the Daily Mirror. They'll need to make the most of this saving - from lower green taxes announced in the Coalition's autumn statement - because Npower hiked prices by 10.4% in December. British Gas has passed on the 'green' savings with a 3.2% cut.

But many other British consumers are still waiting for the £50 cut promised by the Chancellor.

Spring delay for SSE customers

SSE customers have to wait till the end of March before seeing any saving. SSE defended the move to AOL Money, claiming it made sense to align the price cut at the end of their financial year in the Spring. This means the cut only takes effect after the worst of the winter is over, when energy use dips.

"SSE plans," it said in a statement, "to extend its current Autumn 2014 price cap at the new lower levels to Spring 2015, subject to there being no marked and sustained increase in wholesale energy costs, network costs or new policy-related costs."

When we pressed the point, SSE responded: "Different suppliers raised their prices at different times at different levels, under different ECO programme costs, estimates and contracts. SSE has been very clear from the outset that it will reduce its household energy prices before the end of its financial year."

Note too the SSE caveat in the first paragraph, "subject to there being no marked and sustained increase". This means they can hike prices if there is a change in wholesale prices.

Get fixed

EDF Energy and E.ON press offices weren't taking calls when we checked if they were passing on the 'green' savings. It's thought, though unconfirmed, that EDF adjusted their own recent 3.4% price rise to take account of the changes.

However if you're on a fixed rate tariff, don't bank on that £50 Government saving. That's because some companies - Scottish Power being one example, according to the Mail - differentiate between fixed-rate and variable rate customers.

Uswitch says switching to a fixed price energy plan in the meantime remains the best way for consumers to shield themselves from new price hikes, regardless of what 'green' tax discounts are promised by the Coalition.

"Those looking for extra price security," says Uswitch, "are advised to select a plan without cancellation fees, allowing them to switch penalty-free should a more competitive tariff appear. This flexibility could be particularly valuable given the delay there will be before reductions are applied."

Find the cheapest gas and electricity tariff for you