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Around 300,000 more homes are likely to have been pushed into "fuel poverty" by Christmas, a campaign group has warned.
The Fuel Poverty Advisory Group says six million people are now struggling to pay their energy bills.
It comes as the industry regulator Ofgem announced a multi-billion pound network upgrade, adding yet more to the bill of every consumer.
Stephen Douglas reports:
- Compare energy suppliers on a price comparison website
- Monthly direct debits, online accounts and dual fuel deals can be cheaper
- Insulate your home's loft and cavity walls
- Handheld energy monitors can estimate how much you're using in real time
- Turn your thermostat down - just 1C could cut your bill by £55 a year
- If you have an old gas boiler replace it with a new condensing model
- Stop heating escaping through gaps in windows and doors
Energy Secretary Ed Davey said he does not want to add "a single penny" to energy bills that isn't in the public interest.
Speaking at the Fair Energy Summit in London, Mr Davey said, "I'm quite frankly fed up with commentators suggesting the Government are deliberately increasing energy bills, when in fact we are doing everything we can to reduce them".
"The bulk of the cost we add to bills is for supporting low carbon technologies and energy efficiency ... I make no apology for ensuring that we meet our legally-binding carbon targets and renewable energy targets", he added.
Under Ofcom's revised proposals, household energy bills will rise an average of £12 per year between 2013 and 2021.
The amount is not cumulative as investment and costs "vary year-on-year".
Ofgem said energy bills are expected to rise from today's prices in the following manner:
- 2013/14 - £8.50
- 2014/15 - £7.30
- 2015/16 - £11.20
- 2016/17 - £11.60
- 2017/18 - £13.30
- 2018/19 - £14.50
- 2019/20 - £14.20
- 2020/21 - £15.10
The energy regulator said half the total average bill - £6.20 - is related to tax changes affecting the gas distribution network companies "that are outside Ofgem's control".
Ofgem's £24.2 billion investment to "upgrade and renew" the country's gas and electricity infrastructure includes funding to connect around 80,000 fuel poor households to the gas grid, "helping them benefit from cheaper fuel".
Household energy bills are set to rise by £12 per year to pay for new and upgraded gas and electricity infrastructure, Ofgem has announced.
The Government announced proposals to require energy firms to provide just four tariffs for each fuel and to place all customers on the cheaper deals.
But critics have warned that the plans could see an end to cheap deals, stop consumers switching suppliers, reduce competition and push up bills in the long run.
The FPAG has said that there must be a "major step change" in the energy efficiency of housing, which could be achieved through the use of carbon tax revenues.
Families are considered to be in fuel poverty when they have to spend more than 10% of their incomes on keeping their homes warm.
Campaigning organisation the Fuel Poverty Action Group said that nearly half of the UK's fuel poor households are pensioners, a third contain people with some sort of disability or illness, a fifth contain a child aged five or under and one in 10 house someone aged 75 or over.
The Fuel poverty ratio is therefore defined as: Fuel poverty ratio = fuel costs (modelled consumption x price) ÷ income
In the calculation of this ratio, the fuel consumption is modelled, to ensure the household achieves the satisfactory heating regime.
Therefore, if the dwelling is actually heated to a temperature below the level defined as being satisfactory, the estimated bill for that household will be higher than the actual bill and vice versa.