Look, we get it. Comparing energy prices doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing in the world. And it’s not. But there are a few good reasons why you should take some time out of your day to do it.
This is the big one and really should be reason enough to start looking at energy deals straight away. The truth is that when it comes to gas and electricity suppliers, loyalty rarely pays – and switching can save you a bucket-load of cash.
Switching energy suppliers may not be the most fun you can have with your phone or your laptop, but it’s also not going to take up too much of your time. Comparing the available deals is easy once you know what you’re looking for and most of the process is done for you. Once you’ve chosen the deal you want, you just sit back and relax.
Price comparison sites such as our preferred switching partner uSwitch don’t charge you anything to help you switch from one supplier to another, so you really have nothing to lose. Most energy suppliers don’t charge upfront fees, so as long as you don’t have any exit fees to pay to get out of your current deal, then what are you waiting for?
Comparing energy prices is a quick and simple process. The first thing we’d recommend doing is to check what your current situation is, so you know whether you’ll have to pay any exit fees to get out of a contract. If you’re on a fixed-price energy tariff then there may be a little way to go on your contract, in which case you’ll probably be charged an exit fee to leave.
Most people will find that they’re on what is called a standard variable rate – this is the default tariff that suppliers will put you on when your original contract has finished. It’s rarely going to be the best possible tariff you could be on and you won’t be charged anything to leave.
We’d recommend having a recent energy bill to hand before you sit down to compare deals, as you may be asked for a few details and it’s useful to have some idea of your usage. There is no more preparation to do, simply click through to our preferred switching partner Uswitch, enter your postcode and a few more details when prompted. You’ll be presented with a list of energy deals that are available to you. When you’ve chosen the one that’s right for you, just click it and follow the steps. Most of the switching process will be completed on your behalf – your new supplier will let you when it’s been completed.
Being presented with a long list of energy deals can be a little daunting, so here are the main things to look out for.
There are a few different types of energy tariff that you may see when comparing deals. These are the big ones.
Fixed price plans are gas and electricity tariffs that guarantee you’ll pay a set rate per unit of energy used for the duration of the contract, which is usually 12 months or more. They are usually among the cheapest energy tariffs around, although if wholesale gas or electricity prices drop at any point then you won’t benefit. On the flip side, you won’t get hit in the pocket should wholesale prices rise. The only fluctuations in how much you’re charged will be because you’ve less or more than you did the previous more.
These are energy suppliers’ default tariffs. They are what you’ll end up on if you don’t switch when your fixed price contract runs out and what you’ll be likely to be put on initially if you move home. Being on a standard variable tariff means you are liable to pay more or less per unit of energy depending on fluctuations in the wholesale energy market, although your supplier will inform you of any price changes.
Dual fuel energy tariffs include both gas and electricity. Being on a dual fuel deal means you can switch both fuels at the same time and have the convenience of having only one supplier and one bill. Some suppliers offer a ‘dual fuel discount’ for taking both fuels from them, but others have dropped this over the past couple of years.
These require a prepayment meter and for you to pay for your gas and electricity usage in advance, topping up via a token or smartcard. Most suppliers offer at least one prepayment tariff and prices are capped by Ofgem, but these tariffs tend to work out more expensive than fixed price deals.
Economy 7 and 10 tariffs charge you different prices per unit of energy depending on when you are using it. The 7 and 10 refer to the number of hours at which you’ll be charged an off-peak rate, usually in the daytime. Outside of these hours, you’ll be paying more.
There aren’t too many of these tariffs around and they are rarely the cheapest on offer, but you may see them offered by some of the bigger suppliers. The idea is that your energy price may go down but will never go up.
Many energy suppliers offer green tariffs, with a number of smaller providers specialising in 100% green energy. When you see a percentage attached to the promise of green energy, a supplier is guaranteeing that for however much energy you use, they will source an equivalent amount from renewable sources such as solar, wind, biomass and geothermal.