E.ON has become the first of the big six energy firms to hike energy bills this year, after it quietly slipped out cost increases for millions of customers on the coldest spring day on record.
While the German firm is not increasing electricity and gas prices, it is removing dual fuel and paperless discounts for customers on standard variable tariffs, meaning they will see a rise of 2.6% for a typical annual bill of £1,153 from 19 April.
The company said the move would “make it simpler and easier for customers to understand our tariffs and compare them with other suppliers in the market”.
However, E.ON also blamed unspecified rising costs. Analysts told the Guardian earlier this week to expect another round of price rises from the big six, primarily because of rising wholesale electricity and gas prices.
One smaller supplier, Bulb, this week increased prices by £24 a year for its 300,000 customers, citing wholesale costs.
The E.ON price rise was not announced to the press or to the public via social media, but was revealed by a price comparison site.
Mark Todd, co-founder of Energyhelpline, said: “Along with the current icy blizzards that are pushing up all our bills already, these price rises are doubly bad news for millions of E.ON customers.”
The exact changes by E.ON will vary from region to region. Customers who pay by cheque and cash rather than direct debit will be hit harder, as the company has upped its standing charge for such payments by £20 for dual fuel households.
The move comes after the government laid legislation in parliament this week to cap energy bills for 11m households by the end of the year.
On Wednesday, new data from Ofgem showed the costs facing energy suppliers had risen 7.9% between August 2017 and February this year, “driven primarily by increases in wholesale gas and electricity costs.”
Freezing temperatures this week have seen very high demand for gas, which will boost big energy firms’ revenue after relatively low demand last year because of mild weather.
National Grid has now withdrawn the gas deficit warning it issued on Thursday, after a huge spike in wholesale prices secured more supplies