Energy bills are one of the most significant expenses in every UK household and business premises. This indispensable utility can be costly in the long run, which is why consumers are always on the lookout for a reasonable deal in the market.
Despite the industry regulator Ofgem’s decision to implement a price cap that slashed energy bills, experts point out several companies that rip off customers by offering higher tariffs. Npower is one such firm that imposed a price hike amid the government’s announcement of the price control.
While the company promised ‘great savings’, there might be some dirt to dig regarding their tariffs, especially if you are switching to those today.
Auto-switching platform Look After My Bills and Express.co.uk investigated the Standard Variable Tariffs (SVTs) of different energy firms, which determined the detrimental effect of the price cap in 2019. The investigators found that suppliers are charging more than the £1,179 limit on SVT across the UK.
Npower’s Go Green Energy tariff, which lasts until October 2021, costs as much as £1,203 annually per typical use. It is deemed as one of the worst Big Six deals to have in the current market.
Look After My Bills Head of Research Lily Green expressed disappointment over the supplier’s move of locking in a customer for a fixed number of years on expensive tariffs. She further urged Ofgem to investigate the matter.
From 1 April 2019, around a million Npower gas and electricity consumers saw a 10% increase in their standard variable tariff bills.
uSwitch energy expert Rio Smith called this move a ‘price cap con’ that made consumers think negatively of the price control as soon as it was announced. He noted how raising prices influenced the customer’s view of standard tariffs, which should have been made more attractive because of the protection offered by a price cap.
Npower’s deal was £294 more costly than the cheapest tariff on the market. Smith added that it was wrong for customers to assume that staying on a contract amounting to just under the price cap is better than shopping around for an economical deal.
The firm’s standard variable tariff on a contract meter increased by up to £118, or at £1,254 per year based on typical use. Along with that, prepayment meter (PPM) customers also saw a price increase amounting to about £106.
Npower’s price increase last April 2019 was already the third rise within a twelve-month timeframe. It previously imposed a price hike in January 2019, matching the price cap level at £1,137 for its SVT customers.
Further back in June 2018, Npower implemented an increase in the SVT deal for dual-fuel customers. It raised the prices by 5.3% or a £64 additional cost for customers. This rise came in the wake of other companies increasing their dual-fuel tariffs amid higher wholesale energy costs and government policy changes.
‘Which?’ Managing Director Alex Neill said that Npower’s third successive price increase did not align with Ofgem’s price cap. Many consumers have come to assume that Ofgem’s Price Cap caused significant price hikes instead of protecting against ballooning bills.
Neill encouraged energy customers to switch to better deals in the market before the price cap was enforced. Many cheaper tariffs help consumers save as much as £300 per year, although it would take some effort and time to find the best deal. Auto-switching platforms and comparison websites are in a great position to aide consumers when shopping around for a new deal.
Npower wasn’t the only energy supplier that took advantage of the newly set price cap with its expensive Go Green Energy deal. Scottish Power has four deals that are above the April 2019 price cap, although two are nearing termination in August 2020.
SSE and British Gas both offer a tariff above £1,200, with the British Gas deal contract lasting until December 2021.
On the other hand, Ebico offered the most expensive tariffs during that time, with its most costly deal around £133 more than the government’s price cap.