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Energy price cap: Why are fuel bills rising and can I get a fixed deal? Why are gas prices so high and what is happening to fuel bills?
(3 days later)
Fuel bills for millions of households are going up and energy regulator Ofgem says there will be further "significant rises" next year. Energy prices are soaring and business leaders have warned some firms could be forced to close.
Why are prices increasing and what can you do to save money? Fuel bills are also rising for millions of households - with further "significant" increases expected next year.
Can I get a fixed deal or cheaper tariff now? Why are gas prices so high?
Usually, consumers are encouraged to shop when energy bills rise. There's been a worldwide squeeze on gas and energy supplies.
A cold winter in Europe last year put pressure on supplies and, as a result, stored gas levels are much lower than normal
There's been increased demand from Asia - especially China - for liquefied natural gas.
This has helped push up wholesale gas prices across the world. Since January, they've risen 250%.
Is the UK headed for a gas shortage this winter?
How are energy prices affecting business?
Many companies face a considerable rise in their bills. That could mean they have to:
reduce or pause production - or even cease trading - which could cause job losses
pass their increased costs on to customers as higher prices
Industry leaders have been meeting the government to discuss the crisis.
What type of companies are worst affected?
Energy-intensive industries which use heat as part of their production process - such as steel, paper and ceramic manufacturing - are particularly exposed.
Adrian Curry of Encirc - a UK-based glass container plant - told the BBC his company is facing bills of up to £100m, up from £40m.
However, every company that has to pay energy bills - even if it's just to heat an office or shop - will be affected.
What action do they want from the government?
There have been calls for an energy price cap for business use, similar to the one for households. At present there is no such protection from price rises.
Energy-intensive industries also want:
A reduction in their share of network costs, which cover the pipes and cables carrying energy across the UK
Access to emergency relief if an energy-intensive plant has to shut down
So far, the government has not committed to any help for business.
The steel industry is particularly vulnerable to energy prices
What's happening to household gas bills?
About 15 million households have seen their energy bills rise by 12% since the beginning of the month.
This is because the energy price cap has risen. This sets the maximum price suppliers in England, Wales and Scotland can charge domestic customers on a standard - or default - tariff.
Energy regulator, Ofgem said the cap will go up again in April, the next time it is reviewed.
In Northern Ireland, there is a separate energy market with two suppliers. Prices also rise this month - by 21.8% (SSE) and 35% (Firmus).
Can I get a cheaper deal or fixed tariff?
Usually, consumers are encouraged to shop around when energy bills rise.
But at the moment better offers - including fixed deals - are simply not available.But at the moment better offers - including fixed deals - are simply not available.
Price comparison sites are offering fewer energy deals, and some - such as Compare The Market - are offering none at all.
Look After My Bills has paused its operations, and Flipper has closed down.
People already on fixed deals are advised to stay put.People already on fixed deals are advised to stay put.
Those coming to the end of fixed deals will be moved on to higher standard tariffs.
A tariff set at the price cap limit - the maximum price suppliers can charge customers on a standard deal - will be the most competitive.
Firms warn of price rises as energy bills soarFirms warn of price rises as energy bills soar
Gas prices: 'I'm just watching the meter go up'Gas prices: 'I'm just watching the meter go up'
How can I save money on my bills?How can I save money on my bills?
Instead of searching for a cheaper deal, householders are being encouraged to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.Instead of searching for a cheaper deal, householders are being encouraged to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
The Energy Saving Trust says that changes to our homes and habits could offset the current price rises.The Energy Saving Trust says that changes to our homes and habits could offset the current price rises.
What is the energy price cap? Which suppliers are going bust?
The energy price cap sets the maximum price suppliers in England, Wales and Scotland can charge customers on a standard - or default - tariff. Since wholesale gas prices started to spike, a number of retail energy suppliers have collapsed.
The cap was increased on 1 October, meaning about 15 million households face a 12% rise in energy bills: They have been unable to pay higher prices for gas, or pass all of the increased costs on to customers.
Those on standard tariffs, with typical household levels of energy use, could see an increase of £139 - from £1,138 to £1,277 a year
Households with larger than average energy use will pay more than £1,277 a year
People with pre-payment meters could see an increase of £153 - from £1,156 to £1,309
Households on fixed tariffs will be unaffected, but those coming to the end of a contract will automatically be moved to a default tariff set at the new level
Energy regulator, Ofgem said the cap will go up again in April, the next time it is reviewed.
It said the cap was there to stop energy firms making unfair profits, but "legitimate costs have to be passed through" to customers.
In Northern Ireland, there is a separate energy market with two suppliers. Prices also rise this month - by 21.8% (SSE) and 35% (Firmus).
Why are gas prices so high?
There's been a worldwide squeeze on gas and energy supplies.
A cold winter in Europe last year put pressure on supplies and, as a result, stored gas levels are much lower than normal
There's been increased demand from Asia (which also suffered a cold winter) for liquefied natural gas.
This has helped push up gas prices in the UK, Europe and Asia. Since January, they've risen 250%. Prices have soared 70% from August alone.
Is the UK headed for a gas shortage this winter?
Which energy suppliers have gone bust so far?
Since wholesale gas prices started to spike, a number of firms have collapsed.
They have been unable to pay higher prices for gas supplies, or pass all of the increased costs on to customers.
Enstroga, Igloo Energy and Symbio Energy were the latest energy suppliers to stop trading.Enstroga, Igloo Energy and Symbio Energy were the latest energy suppliers to stop trading.
Hub, Money Plus, Utility Point, People's Energy, PFP, Green and Avro have also been forced out of business.
What can I do if my energy supplier goes bust?What can I do if my energy supplier goes bust?
Gas prices: 'I'm just watching the meter go up'Gas prices: 'I'm just watching the meter go up'
Food firms face huge price rise for carbon dioxideFood firms face huge price rise for carbon dioxide
About 1.7 million customers have been affected.About 1.7 million customers have been affected.
At the beginning of 2021 there were 70 UK energy suppliers.
Industry sources have said there may be as few as 10 left by the end of the year.
Why is the UK affected particularly badly?Why is the UK affected particularly badly?
Gas prices are rising all across Europe, but there are extra reasons why the UK is hard hit:Gas prices are rising all across Europe, but there are extra reasons why the UK is hard hit:
The UK is one of Europe's biggest users of natural gas - 85% of homes use gas central heating, and it also generates a third of the country's electricityThe UK is one of Europe's biggest users of natural gas - 85% of homes use gas central heating, and it also generates a third of the country's electricity
Supplies of renewable energy are down because it's been the least windy summer since 1961 - over the last week, wind provided just 9% of power for England, Wales and ScotlandSupplies of renewable energy are down because it's been the least windy summer since 1961 - over the last week, wind provided just 9% of power for England, Wales and Scotland
A recent fire at a National Grid site in Kent closed a power cable supplying electricity from France.A recent fire at a National Grid site in Kent closed a power cable supplying electricity from France.