Helsinki, Finland --- (METERING.COM) --- May 23, 2013 - Residential energy prices in Europe during 2012 continued their upward trend since the beginning of 2010 and are at their highest level in four years, according to the latest European Residential Energy Price Report.

Further, there are also shocking differences in electricity and gas prices depending on where a customer lives in Europe. For electricity these range from over €0.30/kWh in Denmark to around €0.14 in France and Greece, and for gas from over €0.11/kWh in Denmark to less than €0.06/kWh in Britain.

However, when corrected for purchasing power, the countries with comparatively low income, such as Portugal, Greece and Spain, have the highest relative energy prices and spend a larger share of disposable income on energy. With governments in these countries having to impose draconian austerity measures and cut social spending in order to meet creditors’ demands, the number of vulnerable or “fuel poor” households can also be expected to vastly increase.

The report is published annually by the global think tank VaasaETT and the Austrian energy regulator Energie Control Austria, based on monthly monitoring of the ‘household energy price index’ to monitor energy price developments in Europe.

Other findings in the report are that energy prices have increased fastest in countries worst hit by economic crisis. But, market forces represent only half of the end-user price for both gas and electricity, and national fiscal and regulatory elements are responsible for the other half through distribution tariffs, energy taxes and VAT.

European customers are also missing out on savings opportunities, with savings of an average 14% – around €116 – possible on energy bills by switching supplier in 2012 – an amount greater than in previous years.

The report also notes that residential electricity prices are likely to continue increasing in 2013 as governments try to secure more revenues, networks are modernized, and renewable energy sources are subsidized.