Nearly 700,000 households will be automatically switched onto expensive ‘default’ tariffs in the first quarter of 2019 if people choose not to act. In January, February and March 2019, there are 140 fixed energy tariffs coming to an end, according to new research by comparethemarket.com, with a total cost of £143 million hitting those households affected.

Analysis of the fixed tariffs ending during these months found that the average increase to energy bills is expected to be £193 per household. comparethemarket.com data reveals that if customers do not look to switch when their fixed tariff ends, energy companies are set to benefit from a huge ‘inertia windfall’.

Month

Est. number of customers affected

Total cost to consumers

Number of tariffs ending

Average increase

January

296,387

£65,076,607

43

£219.57

February

60,672

£9,381,145

29

£154.62

March

337,115

£69,447,260

68

£206.00

Total

694,174

£143,905,012

140

£193.40

The biggest hikes in energy costs will impact households whose tariffs ended in January, where the average annual energy bill increase will be £219. However, March will see the greatest number of customers affected, with 337,000 households expected to have been moved on to the more expensive ‘default’ tariffs if they did not switch, at a combined cost of more than £69 million.

Peter Earl, Head of Energy at comparethemarket.com, said “The 700,000 households affected by this subtle change in tariffs are ultimately those who were savvy enough to switch to a fixed tariff in the last year or two and likely saved as a result. However, these figures demonstrate the importance of regular vigilance and switching to ensure you are not paying over the odds for your energy in a market where suppliers rely on your inaction to boost profits.

“The huge £150 million windfall that will be harvested by the big energy companies is yet another example of the broken energy market in action. The simple way to ensure that you are paying as little as possible is to switch onto the cheaper tariffs regularly.”