This winter, Britain's 'Big 6' energy companies are under fire, after all of them announced that customers will have to stomach significant price hikes.

The average bill will soon go up by around 6.6 percent, or more than double the rate of inflation.

And that’s despite many suppliers recording large profits over the last year.

The controversy has sparked a political row between the three main parties over how to pass on savings to consumers.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has pledged a freeze on prices if he wins the next election in 2015.

But today’s report from the Institute of Economic Affairs says that would be exactly the wrong approach.

Dr Richard Wellings is the think tanks Deputy Director. He says that less government interference is the only way to bring costs down: “One example is forcing energy companies to use renewable energy and low carbon energy and these are hugely expensive and largely responsible for the big increases in bills we’ve seen in the last ten years.

“And then there are the big energy companies themselves who in a sense quite like the heavy regulation because this of course shuts out competition from smaller players.”

In response to the angry backlash from consumers, the Chancellor George Osborne recently agreed to cut £50 from energy bills by cutting energy efficiency schemes.

But fuel poverty campaigners have warned that the move could make the situation worse.

Clare Welton is the spokesperson Fuel Poverty Action, a campaign group lobbying for more transparency and fairer prices in the energy sector. She says that the Institute of Economic Affairs has got it wrong: “The announcement from the Institute somewhat ignores the profiteering and the price of fossil fuels and instead blames the green levies and government intervention which accounts for £100 a bill, and the average bill now is over £1400.

“So actually I think they’re confusing the argument and they’re doing that on purpose because they’re scared that energy could be brought back into public hands.”

The Independent Committee on Climate Change has also come out today to criticise the Government’s green energy U-turn.

It says that the UK is legally bound to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels, before 2050.

The Committee says that if the government slows the shift to renewable energy sources now, a future government will be forced to take more drastic action to enable the UK to meet its targets.

However some economists say that green levies may be counterproductive.

As well as environmental concerns, anti-poverty campaigners say that many British homes are poorly prepared for the cold.

Last year there were 31,000 so-called excess winter deaths.

And the World Health Organisation estimates that at least thirty per cent of those deaths were due to people simply not having enough money to heat their homes.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey recently accused energy suppliers like British Gas and N Power of treating customers like “cash cows”.

Yet despite condemnation from across party lines, for most consumers, keeping warm this winter will come at a higher price than ever.