If you’ve never switched gas or electricity supplier, you could be missing out on hundreds of pounds worth of savings every year by not being with the cheapest energy supplier.
Thousands of customers are currently switching, as energy firms SSE and nPower announced eye-watering 9% price hikes - while British Gas raised their prices by a hefty 6%.
So switching increasingly looks like a smart move. According to research from Energyhelpline.com, switching energy providers for the first time could save families well over £300 a year.
Even if you have switched in the past, it could be time to do so again. Ofgem research shows that customers who switch to the cheapest energy supplier in both gas and electricity terms could save up to £100 a year - even if they’ve switched before.
We explain why, and show you how to keep your utility bills as low as possible.
Is this a good time to switch?
British Gas recently warned that they would probably be putting their prices up this winter, and SSE have announced that their 9% price rise will begin from 15 October 2012. And when one energy supplier hikes up its prices, the others usually follow.
So now is a good time to compare the tariffs on offer and switch to the one that offers the best deal for you.
Many families make the mistake of waiting until winter before they switch providers, when trying to save money on gas and cut heating bills becomes a priority.
However, wait too long and you are likely to be caught out. The process of switching can take up to ten weeks to complete; so it’s a good idea to sort it sooner rather than later!
MyFamilyClub has partnered with Uswitch to help families find the cheapest energy supplier. Enter your postcode here to find out if you could reduce your bills by hundreds every year.
What does switching involve?
Although switching can take a bit of time, it’s a simple process as far as the customer is concerned. The mechanics of it all (the wires, pipes and so on) stay the same; it’s just the customer service and billing arrangements that change.
And it’s the new supplier who organises the switching itself - not you. You just need to provide an accurate meter reading, so it knows which point to start billing you from.
Fixed or variable rate tariff?
A fixed rate tariff is one that doesn’t change: You are effectively locking into a fixed price for a certain period of time.
The main alternative is a variable rate tariff. As the name suggests, this price will rise and fall depending on decisions made by your energy supplier.
Fixed rate tariffs certainly aren’t always the cheapest around. In fact, families on fixed tariffs can lose out if gas or electricity prices fall - because the rates they pay won’t fall with them.
However, there are two main advantages of fixed tariffs. If energy prices look set to rise, switching to a fixed tariff should ensure your rate doesn’t spiral out of control.
And if your household budget is tight, a fixed tariff will give you some certainty about how much you’ll be paying each month - therefore making it easier to budget for other things.
What to look for in your new supplier
When looking for the cheapest energy supplier and the best-value tariff, keep the following things in mind:
- Paying by monthly direct debit (rather than as and when you get a bill) should knock 5-10% off the price.
- Dual fuel tariffs are sometimes cheaper - but not always. If you’re offered a dual fuel deal, see if paying separately works out cheaper.
- Don’t let your energy company estimate your bill - always submit accurate meter readings instead. Estimates can be way off the mark, which means you’re either over-billed (and have to wait for a refund) or face whopping additional payments at the end of the year.
- See whether your supplier has an internet tariff with paperless billing. This is often the cheapest tariff on offer, and just means they’ll contact you by email rather than by post.