Domestic gas bills have risen by over 33 per cent in the past year, resulting in growing dissatisfaction amongst energy consumers, new research has found.
A poll of energy users conducted by consumer information firm, J D Power and Associates, found that the average domestic gas bill in the UK had increased by 33.6 per cent between 2005 and2006, rising from £382.20 to £510.60.
The survey of 2,605 electricity and 2,008 gas customers also discovered that average electricity bills had increased by 13.7 per cent, from £398.52 to £453.24, over the year.
Commenting on the results of the poll, which showed that overall, consumers were increasingly unhappy about the service they received from their energy suppliers, Caspar Tearle, director of service industries research at J D Power and Associates, said: "Customer satisfaction is naturally affected by price increases, however, suppliers can moderate these levels by keeping their customers informed of any price changes in advance while also communicating the rationale behind such changes."
He added that consumers were becoming "increasingly savvy" about the price of their energy bills, with the survey showing that a growing number of customers are now considering signing fixed-term contracts with energy suppliers to keep costs down.
According to the poll, 26 per cent of electricity customers and 23 per cent of gas customers now say that they are interested in the option, compared to just seven and five per cent, respectively, in 2005.
Other measures taken by consumers to reduce energy bills included paying for services by direct debit in order to receive a discount, a method used by 35 per cent of gas customers and 39 per cent of electricity users.
Meanwhile, 32 per cent of gas users and 31 per cent of electricity customers said they received a discount for paying their bills promptly.
Amongst individual suppliers, Scottish and Southern Energy and npower were ranked as the top providers of both gas and electricity, with companies measured according to various factors including billing and payment procedures, prices, customer service and reliability.
Commenting on the results of the survey, a spokeswoman for the Energy Retail Association, which represents suppliers, stressed that wholesale energy prices were responsible for increasing the cost of household bills.
"Over the last 18 months, soaring wholesale gas and electricity costs have pushed up household bills and no-one is popular when prices are rising," the spokeswoman told the BBC.