Business

Gas use up 18% on cold weather, British Gas says

Gas rings
Image caption British Gas said gas use had risen by 18% from last year

Centrica, which owns British Gas, says gas use in the first four months of 2013 was almost a fifth higher than last year because of the cold weather.

The company said UK residential gas use was up 18%, and electricity use by 3%.

Centrica said "any benefit arising from the exceptionally cold weather will be used to maintain our price competitiveness".

A spokesman said: "We will use that [cold weather benefit] to effectively hold prices for as long as possible."

It also said it had signed up 28,000 more residential customers this year.

Centrica said the cold weather had also affected its services business, which had seen costs rise because of a higher number of call outs.

The company said the weak economy was also having an effect, with fewer people installing new heating systems.

However, it added that said it expected full-year profits to be in line with forecasts.

Last year, the company faced criticism for increasing its prices. British Gas raised its gas and electricity charges by 6% in November.

Centrica's statement said: "Recognising the economic pressures facing many of our customers, the board has determined that any benefit arising from the exceptionally cold weather will be used to maintain our price competitiveness.

"As a result of this decision, we expect the residential energy supply business to deliver an operating profit for the full year in line with expectations, weighted towards the first half."

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