Unions have demanded the government act to tackle astronomical energy bills after British Gas announced it's increasing gas and electricity prices by 6 per cent from next month.
Around 8.5 million households face a bleak winter as they look to find a way to cope with an extra £80 a year on their energy bills - although the million British Gas customers on fixed-price contracts will be spared the rise.
Energy rival SSE is already set to increase tariffs by an average of 9 per cent on Monday - hitting five million electricity customers and 3.4 million gas customers.
And fellow energy fir Npower followed suit, announcing a an average rise of 8.8 per cent for gas and 9.1 per cent for electricity customers.
Unions demanded an emergency package of energy efficiency measures to tackle growing fuel poverty in Britain as people already fighting to pay the bills struggle to eat or heat their homes.
Unison national business secretary Mike Jeram said: "It will be a long, cold winter for many pensioners, the unemployed, low paid workers and their families.
"This is a crisis in the making and the government needs to tackle fuel poverty head-on or we will see the number of deaths from cold rising over the winter."
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "With winter approaching, low-waged people will now be terrified about how they are going to find another £80.
"It is high time government intervened to take back from these grasping companies."
British Gas owner Centrica said its own costs are going up and wholesale prices for gas this winter are around 13 per cent higher than those paid for the same period last year.
Attention will now switch to other major suppliers EDF and Scottish Power, which will be likely to follow British Gas's example and raise prices. Eon has guaranteed customers a price freeze for 2012.
Rising energy bills are likely to play havoc with the Bank of England's inflation forecasts which were signalling a gradual fall towards the end of 2013.