By Daniel Hunter

EDF will announce a predicted 435% increase in annual profits today (Thursday), the first in a series of announcements from Britain’s ‘Big Six’ energy companies that is expected to indicate an overall rise in profits of £2 billion.

Figures published at the weekend claim that 5.5million Britons are suffering in fuel poverty and three-fifths will go without adequate heating this winter.

Average annual energy bills have risen 15% since last year and with further increases looking likely, households will need to be proactive in finding the best deals in order to ease the strain.

Campaigners have reacted by suggesting an end to VAT on energy bills and the introduction of a windfall tax on the profits of the ‘Big Six’, with the money to be reinvested into making homes more energy efficient. Many hope that plans for the tax will be announced alongside the Chancellors budget in March, with a long-term solution to fuel poverty in mind.

Meanwhile, many households face a struggle to afford adequate heating in the short-term but savings can be made by those willing to search for the best deals. Some smaller energy companies are offering immediate installation of a smart meter alongside a more accurate and transparent tariff, whereas the wait for installation could be up to a decade for ‘Big Six’ customers. Smart meters send regular reports on energy usage to the provider, which means accurate bills and in some cases the ability to view graphs of usage online.

Through their partnership with First:Utility, Pockit have been campaigning for households to take advantage of the savings available to savvy customers willing to look beyond the ‘Big Six’ energy companies.

“With campaigns for cheaper energy bills focused on long-term solutions, customers will need to be proactive to avoid the pinch of rising energy prices," CEO Danny Jatania said.

"Customers should start by asking their energy provider about how they can get a smart meter installed, as they provide accurate readings and do away with the hassles and inaccuracies of estimated bills. Some companies are offering free installation of a smart meter immediately, so customers should not be afraid of switching provider.

“Customers need to take control of the way they are paying for energy and proactively search for cashback deals and lower rates that can help them to avoid the pressures of rising costs.

"Campaigns looking to impose a levy on the profits on the ‘Big Six’ and do away with VAT on energy bills may ease the strain of energy bills in the long term, and the next ten years will see all of the ‘Big Six’ introducing smart meters and simpler, more accurate tariffs. However, in the short-term customers need to seriously consider shopping around for better deals that can help them avoid joining the millions in fuel poverty."

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