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A better energy deal?

Energy bill changes have been announced by deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Photo:

Consumer groups are lukewarm about the Government's deal with the energy companies this morning.

Their latest promise to consumers is that they will write to everyone with details of their cheapest tariff, although they will not recommend an even cheaper deal with a rival, if there is one.

The six firms do not have to recommend other rivals tariffs, even if they are cheaper.

This may encourage many households to look more carefully at their bills, and consider the deal they are on. But it might not do much to prompt consumers to look at switching company, often the best way of saving.

And will it prompt more of us to look at insulating our homes and taking up the Government's Green Deal offer?

The deal does not address the more fundamental issues the energy companies are grappling with that do, whether we like it or not, add to cost.

Huge increases in demand for resources from countries like China and India, instability in the Middle East push energy prices ever higher.

And in this country billions of pounds is needed to spend on updating energy infrastructure and switching to cleaner energy.

Updating cleaner energy infrastructure would cost the UK billions of pounds Credit: REUTERS/Bob Strong

The energy companies know their behaviour towards consumers has often fallen short. But some factors that push prices upwards are out of their control.

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