Winter beach scene
Unseasonably warm conditions in November and December have allowed people to go to the beach later in the year like this one in Colwyn Bay, WalesGetty

It may be the warmest Christmas period for years but people should not expect lower heating costs in the near future, consumer groups have warned.

The warmest Christmas Day on record is expected after temperatures rose in the south east of the UK to 16C on 16 and 17 December.

While the Met Office says that the unsettled weather pattern of November and December is expected to continue until the New Year, having less of a need to turn on the heating will not necessarily translate into lower bills.

Hannah Maundrell, editor-in-chief of money.co.uk, told IBTimes UK that energy costs are determined by a combination of wholesale energy prices, the cost of maintaining the energy networks, energy efficiency levies and tax.

Where you live, what tariff you are on and how much electricity you use are also factors.

She said: "It's a common misconception that the weather directly affects the price you pay for energy. If the weather is warmer, your bills may go down slightly because you have the heating on less but as for how the energy companies set their prices, it is not quite as simple as that.

"Suppliers buy energy months in advance, which is the reason they generally give to explain why they haven't lowered prices to match the plummeting wholesale market."

She said that on the plus side it is unlikely that there would be 2016 energy hikes.

"It's not likely we'll see dramatic cuts across the board in the near future because the mild winter so far will have hit profits and they'll no doubt look to compensate by keeping costs high," she said.

The mildest start to December since 1960 has been recorded in Wales (8.7C), south west England (9.8C) and south east England (10C).

The past few weeks have also been recorded as the 4th warmest December on record for the whole of the UK, with 1979, 2000 and 2006 being only marginally milder.

This year has been the warmest on record and this is set to continue throughout 2016, the Met Office has said.

USwitch.com pointed out that although the cost of wholesale energy had gone down steadily over the last couple of years, British Gas was the only big six supplier to make two reductions to standard energy tariffs this year.

In a statement, it said it had anticipated that 54% of people in Britain would ration energy use this winter, with one in 10 admitting they would consider going without heating or hot water.

Director of consumer policy at uSwitch, Ann Robinson, said: "Wholesale energy costs continue to be at record lows, yet energy companies have refused to pass on the savings to those in desperate need."