THOUSANDS of British Gas customers across Huddersfield face big increases in their bills.

The utility company announced price rises for both gas and electricity.

Gas prices will rise by an average of 18% and electricity bills by an average of 16% from August 18 – adding £190 a year to the average dual energy bill.

British Gas said it had raised its prices in response to a 30% hike in wholesale prices since last winter.

It is the second of the “big six” companies to put up prices after Scottish Power announced a 19% rise in gas prices and a 10% hike in electricity last month. Other suppliers are expected to follow suit.

The change in prices will directly affect 9m customers. A further 1m with fixed prices and will not be immediately affected.

The move has angered local pensioners.

Noreen Logan, a spokesman for the Huddersfield and District Pensioners Association, said: “When you are talking about a rise of almost £4 a week, it is very worrying for elderly people on a small pension.

“It is another blow.

“People will have to decide whether or not to turn their heating down. I know that I turn it off when I go out and then do not turn it back on until I get back, then I start to feel cold.

“Pensioners spend more time in their homes than most other people so it is a worry.”

British Gas last raised its prices in December when household bills increased by an average of 7%, adding £1.50 to the average weekly dual fuel bill.

Managing director Phil Bentley, said: “We know there is never a good time to raise prices, but we are buying in a global energy market and have to pay the market rate.

“Rising wholesale costs is an issue facing all energy suppliers.

“Our advice to customers is to wait and see what happens in the energy retail market before making any decisions about switching supplier.”

The company said it “cannot continue to make a loss on the energy it sells” and it needs to make a profit to invest in future energy sources.

It said customers could keep their prices down by fixing their bills, improving insulation in their homes and fitting energy monitors.

British Gas said some bills could increase by as much as 24% depending on how customers pay their bills and where they live. The minimum increase will be 12%.

Mike O’Connor, chief executive of Consumer Focus, said wholesale prices had gone up – but are still a third lower than their peak in 2008.

He said that in this time, British Gas prices have risen by about 44% on gas and 21% on electricity and “suppliers have made healthy profits”.