By myfinances.co.uk staff
The coldest winter for 30 years has seen home owners fall deeper into debt with energy suppliers, with the total owed now topping £728 million, according to new research.
Figures from uSwitch.com shows 5.5 million households, or 21% of the UK total, are now in the red with utility companies.
The average debt for these consumers is £132, up five per cent on last year's figure of £126 and 16 per cent higher than 2008, when consumers typically owed £114.
While bills rose by 42% - or £381 - in 2008, they fell by only four per cent (£54) last year. So far in 2010, prices cuts have averaged at four per cent, or £45.
Although four of the big six energy suppliers - British Gas, Scottish and Southern Energy, npower and E.ON - have announced reductions in their charges, only British Gas has implemented the changes so far.
The latest supplier to unveil a cut in its prices was npower, which said it will lower its charges for gas by seven per cent from March 26th in a move expected to benefit around two million households.
According to uSwitch.com, when all the announced price cuts have been applied, the average household energy bill will be £1,209 a year.