Utility bills at a fixed price? Not at all. The companies of gas and electricity have been warning their customers since the beginning of the year: contracts will change (unilaterally) and tariffs will be higher. Even if the contract said “fixed price”. All this in an absolutely legal way: it is the law that allows it. What the user can do is look for a better offer from another operator, on the free or protected market. And then, take advantage of this crisis to learn how to consume less. Consumer associations have no doubts. “In these days – explains Consumerismo No Profit – citizens and companies from all over Italy that are part of the free energy market are receiving notices of withdrawal or unilateral changes to the contractual conditions on the supply of electricity and gas sent by the various operators”. It’s all legal, changes are allowed by law, even for fixed rate contracts. The changes to the contracts, adds the association, foresee “a worsening of the economic conditions offered to consumers”. A kilowatt hour, Consumerismo explains, “is offered at 0.60 euros, when in normal conditions the average price was about 0.22 euros (therefore 300% more)”.
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The association therefore advises users «to return as soon as possible to the conditions of protection, both for electricity and for gas. This is because, although the tariffs are still high, the conditions are regulated by Arera, and the risk of early renegotiation of the economic conditions by the operators is avoided “. The National Consumers Union shares the analysis, but is more nuanced on the solutions. «There is no single recipe – explains Marco Vignola, Head of Energy -. Before these increases in gas and electricity, which began in mid-2021, most contracts on the free market were at a fixed rate, to lock in prices that were then affordable. Today, however, those who sign a fixed-rate contract risk finding themselves in a year with high bills, even prices have dropped. In fact, today most of the contracts on the free market are at indexed rates, which can go down from current levels. Those on the protected market, which in any case will end in 2024, are all indexed, every three months ».
For Vignola «the companies must communicate the changes at least 3 months in advance. In this time, the user can compare the offers on the free market and on the protected one, on the Offer Portal of Arera (the public authority that sets energy tariffs, ed.). There he can choose the most convenient one. The important thing is to never accept what they offer you on the phone. It is the offers that are suitable for those who propose them, not for the customer ». The Consumers Union then gives another piece of advice: «We say to customers” save “- concludes Vignola -. Take advantage of this wave of increases to have a greater focus on the consumption of gas and electricity, and also of water. On our website, Consumatori.it, there are lots of tips for saving money, starting with lowering the heating by 1 degree and using the air conditioner better ».
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