British Gas has announced it is to increase its electricity tariffs by 12.5% in September, affecting 3.1 million customers.

The price hike will mean an average dual fuel bill for a typical annual household tariff will rise by £76 to £1,120.

How can you ensure you are getting the best deal for your gas and electricity?

It can often pay to shop around by comparing and switching supplier or energy tariff, something which is fairly easy to do.

Savvy consumers can save as much as £300 a year, according to Ofgem.

  • There is no one cheap supplier. Finding the cheapest energy deal depends very much on your area and your usage.

  • Gas and electric suppliers frequently change their prices so it's worth regularly comparing what's on offer.

  • Switching websites will help you search out the best deal. uSwitch offer a simple comparison guide, while Ofgem has a list of switching sites. In both cases, you simply search using your postcode, giving some information about your gas and electricity usage. It helps to have a recent bill to hand.

  • Free switching services will contact your old and new supplier on your behalf, and agree a switching date.

  • Your existing supplier will continue to provide your energy until the day of the switch.

  • If you change your mind, you have 14 working days (from the date you signed the contract with your new supplier) to cancel without incurring any charge.

  • Fixed-price deals may not appear the cheapest as first as they have slightly higher premiums, but they lock the price for up to three years, so could the best option in the long-term.

  • If you are tied to a contract, you may have to pay an exit fee if you switch suppliers.

Credit: PA

How to get out of energy debt:

There's no need to ignore the problem, help is out there for you if you have run up energy debts.

  • The first thing you should do if you are struggling to pay your bills is call your energy supplier, say uSwitch, regardless of whether you are looking to switch or not.

  • Your supplier must give you clear guidance on what you how and can set up a repayment plan to help you pay it back in manageable amounts.

  • If you're facing being disconnected, your supplier may suggest a prepayment meter allows you to pay off your energy debt at the same time as you pay for the gas and electricity you use.

  • Find out whether you're entitled to social energy tariffs that offer discounted energy bills to customers who are elderly, live in fuel poverty, are on benefits or have a very low income.