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The new tariffs are already used on price comparison sites, but the first bills showing them will not be sent out until 1 April.Previously, not all companies quoted a standing charge, and some quoted two tiers of unit rates, a higher and a lower rate.'Too complicated'But the Which?
Consumers are still failing to spot the cheapest deal because energy pricing remains too complicatedRichard Lloyd, Executive director, Which? Barack Obama becomes the first serving US president to visit Hiroshima, saying the memory of the US 1945 nuclear bombing must never fade.
A growing number of households are tampering with their gas or electricity meters as people struggle to pay rising fuel bills, according to an energy industry association. BBC Radio 5 live's Donal MacIntyre programme travelled to Blackpool to investigate why more and more "meter cheaters" are prepared to put their families' lives at risk to save money.
There are no official statistics for the amount of energy stolen this way, but it is estimated ?140m worth of gas and electricity is lost every year. The UKRPA, which represents companies which investigate energy theft, said its perception is that theft is on the increase, and it fears the latest round of price rises will make the situation worse. A man was recently arrested on an estate in Blackpool after allegedly tampering with meters at 10 separate addresses for a fee of ?50. It is a dismal, cold October afternoon in Blackpool when BBC News met David on the Queen's Park estate.
His electricity meter was removed last December after it was discovered it had been tampered with for the third time in two years. David's electricity meter had been bypassed, which meant he was not paying for any of the energy he was using. The third time the theft was discovered, burn marks were visible where the meter had been interfered with using ordinary, household wire. David's is just one of an increasing number of cases of tenants tampering with their meters in Blackpool Coastal Housing property.
The housing association's estate manager Aliceon Higginbottom said it had been rare to find these cases when she first came to the estate. Energy bills went up at the beginning of the year, and again in the summer, with gas bills up by an average of nearly 50% since January 2008 for customers paying by cash or cheque. There are concerns the rules which dictate how the industry deals with energy theft are a disincentive for suppliers to act. On three out of the four occasions that David's meter was tampered with in Blackpool, it was his residential social landlord who spotted it, not his electricity supplier. Former industry executive Mike Boxall said investigating cases like David's isn't always in the provider's interest. The Energy Retail Association, which represents suppliers, told 5 live energy companies take the issue of energy theft extremely seriously and that it is awaiting consultation from the regulator Ofgem on tackling the problem. The Donal MacIntyre programme will be broadcast on BBC Radio 5 live at 7pm on Sunday 12 October, 2008 or download the programme podcast.
Large-scale fracking in the UK is not likely to lead to big reductions in household gas bills, Chancellor George Osborne has said.Extracting shale gas would boost tax receipts and aid the UK economy, Mr Osborne said. More on this story Cuadrilla names fracking exploration sites in Lancashire 4 February 2014 Sussex landowners mount 'legal blockade' against fracking 3 February 2014 Davos: Fracking to boost UK economy, David Cameron says 24 January 2014 What is fracking and why is it controversial? The UK is set to send a Royal Navy warship to the Mediterranean to help tackle arms smuggling in Libya, Prime Minister David Cameron announces.
In March 2011, an explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan pushed up gas prices in the UK. As nuclear power plants were taken offline, Japan chose to generate more of its electricity from imported gas. Traders worried that cargoes of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) headed for Europe would be diverted to Japan - where higher prices were being offered. This pushed up the price that energy firms had to pay to buy gas in the UK, a cost that may have driven up bills this winter.
Increases in the wholesale price of natural gas will not only drive up the cost of a household's heating, it will also increase the cost of its electricity.

That is because the price of electricity generated from gas power-stations tends to set the wholesale cost of power paid to all generators.
The more expensive the gas bought by power companies, the more expensive the electricity they produce and the more we pay in our bills.
Wholesale energy accounts for 45% of household bills which also include tax, company profit, transmission costs and rising clean energy investment. The wholesale energy cost for a dual fuel bill includes the cost of gas and the cost of generating electricity. The wholesale, on the day, cost of the gas or gas equivalent consumed by the average household over a year. If they buy a lot when the price is cheap, then they won't necessarily need to push up the price to us when it becomes more expensive. However, over the longer term, even buying in advance can't prevent higher prices feeding through into bills. Germany, for example, buys much of its gas from Russia and recently completed a new pipeline, the Nordstream, to make more available. And many suppliers, especially countries that also produce oil, such as Russia, tend to tie the price they charge for these contracts to the oil price. The UK has few long term contracts, but because so much gas is tied into them, the UK price tends to change with the oil price. Not only did this put up the price of gas in regions that bought from Libya, it also increased the oil and gas price worldwide, potentially driving price rises in the UK over the summer.
During the 2009 recession, gas prices were broadly the same around the world, at around $4-5 per million British thermal units (MMBTU), according to figures from Platts.
In Asia, rising demand from fast-growing economies, such as China, has driven up the price dramatically.
The March Fukushima disaster, which increased demand from Japan, only made the situation worse.
In the US, by contrast, the discovery of vast shale gas deposits (gas trapped in rocks) has driven the price down. The UK and Northern Europe have local gas supplies and relatively slow economic growth, so they seem to be holding back prices compared with Asia. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has predicted a golden age for gas in the next decade, driven by new supply from unconventional shale gas around the world and rising demand in Asia. The IEA's world energy outlook predicted that UK gas production from the North Sea would fall by over 50% during the next 25 years.
This means the UK will be more dependent than ever on imported gas, and competing for it with Asia and the rest of Europe.
In the wake of Fukushima, Germany has abandoned its nuclear programme, potentially increasing its demand for gas in Europe. Norwegian firm Statoil, which provides much of the gas to the UK, says this means we should make a long term deal or risk higher prices. They say the government's current policy relies on gas as a backup to new wind and nuclear generation. France has already banned shale exploration and it is suspended in the UK due to tremors linked to drilling. Gas from the US could be exported - BG group recently signed a deal with US firm Cheniere energy to do just that. And UK energy bills may come to be more reliant on the cost of building nuclear power stations and wind turbines than the gas price. Ultimately though, events, such as earthquakes, wars, technological breakthroughs and changes in economic fortunes will continue to have a bigger impact on the changing cost of power than anything else. The UK's tax authority has been accused by MPs of failing to properly monitor the system of tax reliefs.
With more cold weather on its way, and increases to energy bills, a Lancashire organisation is offering a helping hand on keeping heating bills down.Lancashire's Energy Saving Trust advice centre have been inundated with calls from people worried about the cost of keeping the chill out this winter.

Eliminate draughts and wasted heat by installing a cheap, easy-to-fix brush or PVC seal on your exterior doors. Draughts also get in through gaps in floorboards and skirting boards, which allows heat to escape in the winter months. An insulating jacket for a hot water tank only costs a few pounds and pays for itself within months.
Around 33% of the heat lost in your home is through the walls, so insulating them can be one of the most cost-effective way to save energy in the home.
Put your digital recorder on a separate plug socket so you can turn off everything else at the mains but keep your series link recordings.
But as the chart below shows, Europe cannot be treated as a single entity, for there are massive differences between individual countries in what households pay for their power.
Energy think tank Vaasaett says that although its prices are specific to capital cities, the rankings shown below would not change if the country as a whole was substituted for the city.Taking exchange rates out of the equation, Helsinki is the cheapest of the 23 European cities surveyed for electricity prices.
Gas prices also vary a great deal, with households in Stockholm - the most expensive city - paying three times more than those in the cheapest, Luxembourg City. The figures for the proportion of people who are struggling to keep up with the energy bill payments are almost as startling.
Barack Obama is set to arrive in Hiroshima and become the first serving US president to visit the Japanese city since the 1945 nuclear bombing. It does need to import gas from global markets, including Qatar, which means global demand pushes up local prices. Letterboxes and keyholes should be covered, too, and do not leave the front door open more than necessary. Filling them with newspaper, beading or sealant will help you stop throwing heat (and your money) away.
Energy saving light bulbs last 10 times longer and by replacing all the remaining traditional bulbs in your home, you could save around £25 a year from your energy bill and 100Kg of CO2. By installing cavity wall insulation you could save up to £110 on your annual heating bills. On average, UK households waste around £40 each year by leaving appliances on standby. An energy efficient fridge freezer, for example, uses around 60% of the energy to do the same job than a typical old appliance which is a saving of up to £38 a year. Savings of around £130 on bills can be expected annually if whole-house single glazing is replaced with recommended double glazing (with an energy rating of C).
Households in Berlin - the most expensive - pay two-and-a-half times as much, largely due to taxes and subsidies designed to boost renewable energy production. Stockholm is much more expensive than everywhere else simply because the gas market is so small - there are only 33,000 households buying gas in the whole of Sweden.London is the second cheapest city, where households pay well below the European average, despite recent price rises. Many Lithuanians (34%), Cypriots (31%), Portuguese (27%) and Greeks (26%) in particular also struggle to keep their homes warm.At the other end of the scale, less than 2% of Scandinavians cannot afford to keep warm at home.
They can help you save up to a quarter on your heating bills and even more if you upgrade to modern controls. I don't want to go out there and say this is the solution to all of this country's economic problems."Housing shortagesLast August, David Cameron told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that fracking had "real potential" to drive energy bills down at a time when many families were struggling with rising prices. The equivalent figure for the UK is currently 9%, but this will fall - possibly by three or four percentage points - once energy suppliers pass on recently announced changes in green levies. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience.
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