But it is possible to reduce the amount you pay without ditching your appliances and sitting in the dark.
The cost of gas and electricity has risen five times faster than household income since 2004, according to website uSwitch.com. While average household earnings have gone up by 20%, energy costs are a staggering 140% higher.
Supplier E.ON recently promised not to increase prices this year for its five million domestic customers, but those with other providers are unlikely to be so lucky. British Gas has already hinted at hikes to come this winter, while SSE's pledge not to raise prices before the autumn leaves the way open for moves later on.
Lucy Darch, uSwitch's director of energy, says: "Affordability is already a concern for one-third of households, and we are seeing signs of the strain consumers are under when it comes to the cost of energy.
"Eight in 10 households rationed their energy use last winter in an attempt to keep costs down, and nine in 10 people say it is the household bill they worry about most.
"In 2004, the average household energy bill was £522 a year. Today, it's £1252, but household incomes have not kept pace."
There are two main ways to cut your gas and electricity costs. One is to reduce your consumption – see the panel for easy ways to do this. The other is to move to a cheaper deal or supplier.
Comparison website Moneysupermarket.com has calculated that someone who has never switched could slice more than £280 off their annual bill by signing up for the cheapest available product.
And many of those who have changed in the past could make savings by doing it again.
The first step is to check your existing tariff and consumption from the last 12 months' bills. If you don't have them, contact your supplier for the information.
No one company or deal is best for everyone – the right one for you will depend on your energy use and location.
If you have gas and electricity from different suppliers, you are likely to save by opting for a "dual fuel" deal with a single provider.
The simplest way to find and move to a better alternative is through a service such as Which.co.uk/switch, Moneysupermarket.com, uSwitch.com or Confused.com.
Clare Francis, site editor at Moneysupermarket.com, advises: "The best value deals available are online tariffs. They enable customers to pay in monthly instalments, record actual meter readings and cut out the need for estimated billing.
"Paying by monthly direct debit allows people to spread the cost of their energy evenly throughout the year and avoid the 'bill shocks' that come after the costly winter months, when energy usage is at a peak."
The Graham family, from Kirkcaldy in Fife, work together to keep their power bills down.
Aileen, a 35-year-old nurse, and pipefitter Thomas, 37, started watching their gas and electricity use a couple of years ago after their supplier, E.ON, gave them an energy monitor.
She says: "We began to really think about how much we were using. We reckon it's saving us about £200 a year.
"We've put a power saver in the shower that regulates the flow, so we use less hot water, and we've got reflective sheets behind the radiators to cut heat loss.
"We're getting more loft insulation, and we've got triple glazing, so the house keeps really warm. Even in winter, we use the heating mostly just for drying clothes."
Their children – Samantha, 17, Casey, 12, Tabitha, 5, and Thomas, 4 – also do their bit. Aileen explains: "All the family are good at switching things off, and they've really cut down on using the PlayStation and computers."
But it's not just the family's finances that are benefiting. She adds: "We go out and have lots of family time at the beach or the park instead now, so it's really good for all of us."
It may be easier than you think to reduce your power consumption. Make a few small changes and the savings will soon add up. Become ultra energy-efficient and you could cut your bill by several hundred pounds a year.
l Take showers rather than baths – a shower uses around one-third of the hot water – and wash clothes at 30°C.
l Never leave appliances on standby – a computer on "sleep" still uses three-quarters of its energy.
l Don't leave chargers for phones, batteries, toothbrushes and other gadgets running unnecessarily.
l Replace remaining old-style lightbulbs – the energy-saving type last up to 10 times longer and cost about 80% less to run.
l Cook in bulk, freezing dishes for future use and, where possible, reheat in a microwave, rather than a conventional oven, as it uses less power.
l Don't boil more water than you need in the kettle, and descale regularly so it heats more quickly.
l Defrost the freezer every few months so it uses less power to maintain its temperature.
l When replacing large appliances, choose ones with a top energy-efficiency rating.
l Turn the thermostat down by 1°C all year round to shave around one-tenth off your heating bill.
l Close all curtains as soon as it gets dark to keep heat in, and turn radiators off in rooms not in regular use.
l Fit radiator boosters to save around £140, and take care not to mask radiators with curtains or furniture, as it makes them less efficient.
l Block out drafts around doors, keyholes, letterboxes, windows, floorboards and skirtings – good draught exclusion can be worth £25 a year.
l If you don't have double glazing, get it fitted to save another £100-plus.
l A poorly insulated roof can allow one-quarter of your house's heat to escape, so check and, if necessary, increase the depth.
l Spend £300 on a combination of loft and cavity wall insulation and you could recoup the cost in a year.
l Invest in an energy monitor so you can see exactly how much you're using.