31/07/2013 06:18 BST

British Gas Owner Centrica Posts £356 Million Profit In First Half Of 2013

File photo dated 20/04/07 of a British Gas bill behind a burning hob as British Gas's residential arm increased profits by 3.2\% in the first half of this year.File photo dated 00/00/00

British Gas owner Centrica saw profits from its residential energy arm rise by 3.2% to £356 million as it cashed in on the freeze in the first half of the year.

The supplier increased earnings from £345 million over the same period last year after raising tariffs by 6% in December.

The announcement that British Gas Residential saw profits from its energy supply increase from £345 million in the same period last year.

Centrica chief executive Sam Laidlaw said: "With our customers using more gas to stay warm during the unusually cold winter, we're doing everything we can to help them keep their energy costs under control and make bills simpler and clearer."

Average residential gas consumption was up 13% while electricity rose 1% over the period, compared with last year.

The profits rise as a result of the cold weather was partly offset by higher commodity prices and a new duty to deliver energy efficiency measures in customers' homes - which drove environmental costs up 37%.

Nick Luff, Centrica's finance director, sought to shift part of the blame for any future tariff rises to the Government-backed ECO (Energy Companies Obligation) scheme.

He said the scheme, under which customers are helped with boiler repair or replacement or insulation costs, would "inevitably impact on customer bills ultimately".

Luff refused to rule out a further tariff hike this winter, saying there remained "upward pressure on costs" while volatile wholesale gas prices could also be a factor.

"We will keep prices as low as we can for as long as we can for as long as we can. If prices do have to go up, we will delay it for as long as possible."

British Gas Residential profits contributed to a 9% overall increase in earnings for Centrica, from £1.45 billion to £1.58 billion.

Revenues were up 14% to £13.7 billion for the company, which includes activities in energy generation and storage.