Increases in the cost of clothing, vehicle tax and air fares were also blamed by the Office for National Statistics for the rise in prices that exceeded City forecasts of 2.6%, and soared above the previous month's figure of 2.3%.
The Reserve Bank is expected to keep rates on hold this year as near-term inflation outlook is benign, but a cumulative 50 bps hike in 2018 is likely as growth accelerates, says a report.
Inflation jumped unexpectedly to 2.7 per cent in April, the highest since September 2013, as the slump in the pound since last June's Brexit vote hit home.
"Price rises on utility bills are starting to come through pushing up inflation for the month".
"As a result, consumers' spending will be under pressure, especially for discretionary items like leisure".
"We suspect that UK GDP growth will be weaker than the Bank of England expects and that second round inflationary effects will remain limited with pay growth muted".
Meanwhile the consumer price index including owner occupiers' housing costs, which the ONS has designated as its main measure, rose to 2.6 per cent.
Core CPI, which strips out more volatile prices like food and energy, was up 0.5% month-on-month and 2.4% year-on-year, both ahead of forecast.
The ONS said the timing of when shops put items on sale may have caused prices to jump, with the number of discounted items falling between March and April this year after rising slightly a year ago.
The Retail Price Index (RPI), a separate measure of inflation which includes council tax and mortgage interest payments, reached 3.5% last month, up from 3.1% in March.
Last week Bank of England governor Mark Carney said this year would see a "more challenging time for British households".
The way the ONS measures prices means Npower and Scottish Power's decision to increase gas and electricity prices in March also had an upward impact on the headline rate.
However, the Bank has had to contend with inflation rising well beyond its target level of two per cent.