How to compare electricity only deals
By Phil Wilkinson-Jones | Friday, September 3rd 2021
Comparing energy deals can save you loads of money, it can land you with a much more environmentally-friendly tariff, and, what’s more, switching energy providers is a quick and easy process.
In this guide we’re going to look at electricity deals in particular. Maybe you want to compare electricity and gas prices separately (this can sometimes work out cheaper than a dual fuel tariff), or maybe you don’t have a mains gas connection at home. No matter, we’re here to tell you what you need to know.
What is an electricity deal?
An electricity deal is an energy tariff offered by a supplier that only covers electricity usage – and does not include gas. The alternative is a dual fuel tariff, which includes both gas and electricity. Dual fuel tariffs can often be cheaper than getting gas and electricity separately but that’s not always the case, and there are a few cases in which you may want a particular type of electricity deal.
What are prepayment electricity tariffs?
If you’re on a prepayment meter, then a standard electricity tariff isn’t going to be much good to you. The good news is that many energy suppliers offer prepayment electricity tariffs, although they tend to be more expensive than standard tariffs. There can be a cost for switching prepayment meter tariffs, too, but some suppliers will waive this if you meet certain credit criteria.
What is green electricity?
Green electricity is electricity that comes from renewable sources such as wind power, solar power, biogas or geothermal heat. There are a number of energy providers that offer green electricity including the UK’s large suppliers (including British Gas, E.ON, EDF and Scottish Power) and a number of smaller providers who specialise in green energy. Some suppliers offset their gas and electricity rather than getting them directly from renewable sources, so this is something to watch out for if it is important to you.
How to compare electricity tariffs
When comparing anything, it can be a little overwhelming to start off. Sure, you can see which deal is the cheapest, but does that mean it’s the best? These are the things we think you should be looking out for when comparing electricity tariffs.
- Price – There’s no getting away from the fact that this is the big driver in switching and the thing you’re going to look at first, especially when you consider that the actual electricity that comes into your home won’t change no matter which provider you choose
- Green credentials – It’s a matter of personal choice this one; only you can decide how important going green is to you. Green tariffs used to be a little higher than standard electricity rates, although that is no longer the case
- Contract length – Some electricity deals will lock you in for a set period of time. Sometimes you’ll need to do this in order to access the best prices, but it will mean you’ll be unable to switch (or at least it won’t be quite as easy) for the length of the contract. On the other hand, if you can secure a guaranteed low price for a couple of years then you’re probably onto a winner
- Exit fees – Before you sign up to a deal, check the supplier’s policy on exit fees. This will tell you how much you’d have to pay at any point should you wish to leave
- Tariff type – There are fixed-price electricity tariffs that charge you a set amount for each unit of energy you use, and there are variable tariffs, where the cost of each unit of energy changes as the electricity market fluctuates. When contracts end, you tend to be put on a standard variable rate, which is unlikely to be the cheapest option
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How do you switch electricity tariffs?
First, you need to check that you can switch without incurring a financial penalty in the form of an exit fee. This is likely to be the case if you’re on a fixed-price electricity tariff and still under contract. If you’ve been on a standard variable tariff for a while, then you’re probably fine to switch without paying an exit fee, although you may want to check with your supplier first to make sure.
Actually comparing electricity deals is pretty straightforward. Click the link through to our preferred switching partner uSwitch, enter a few details, and you’ll be presented with a list of electricity deals that you can switch to through the comparison site. All you have to do is choose the one you want – the rest will be taken care of. Before you start, you may want to grab a recent electricity bill, as it’ll be useful to know the following things.
- The name of your current electricity supplier
- The name of the tariff you’re on
- You usage per month or year, in pounds or kWh
- The date your current tariff will expire
- How you want to pay your bills
Frequently asked questions
What are Economy 7 and 10 meters?
These are electricity meters that give you access to different electricity rates during the day and night. The 7 and 10 refer to the number of hours in the day that are charged as off-peak hours. Electricity used outside those hours is charged at a higher rate.
Will my electricity be cut if I switch supplier?
No, the electricity coming into your home and the cables it travels through won’t change, so there’ll be no disruption even on the day you switch. All you’ll know is that the bills will start coming from a different supplier.
Will my new supplier send me a smart meter?
The government has asked energy suppliers to install smart meters in all homes by 2024, so if you don’t already have one then you can expect your supplier to be in touch in the next few years. Smart meters mean your bills will be more accurate and should help you make energy savings around the home.
Can I get help with my electricity bills?
The government’s Warm Home Discount offers up to £140 towards your electricity, applied as a one-off discount at some point between September and March. This depends on eligibility, obviously. There’s more information in our Warm Home Discount guide.
Can I switch electricity suppliers if I’m a tenant?
It depends whether you pay the electricity bills for home or whether your landlord does it. If you deal with the electricity bills, then you should be fine to switch to your preferred deal. If your landlord deals with utilities on your behalf, then you can always ask them to consider switching but ultimately it’ll be up to them.