Is dual fuel cheaper than separate providers?
By Emma Lunn | Thursday, June 10th 2021
Dual fuel is a type of energy tariff where both your gas and electricity are billed on one contract. This type of energy tariff can be more convenient than arranging gas and electricity supplies separately – and it may be cheaper too.
The majority of UK energy providers offer dual fuel tariffs. This type of tariff enables you to receive just one bill for your gas and electricity, although usage and payment for each type of fuel will be detailed separately. Dealing with a single supplier can reduce household admin and simplify payments. But make sure you do your research before you sign up as it’s not guaranteed that a dual fuel deal will always be the cheapest option on the market.
What is dual fuel?
Most households use two forms of energy: gas and electricity. You can either use two separate suppliers, or one supplier for both. Dual fuel simply means you receive both your gas and your electricity from the same energy supplier, on the same contract. Customers receive one bill for both types of fuel. If you manage your account online you’ll be able to see both your gas and electricity accounts under one login.
Dual fuel customers can still choose between fixed, variable, green and online tariffs. There are also dual fuel deals available to prepayment customers.
The case for dual fuel tariffs
They can work out cheaper
In many cases, a dual fuel deal will mean cheaper energy bills. The majority of fixed, online, standard and green tariffs offer a dual fuel option and most energy suppliers offer a discount if you sign up for both forms of energy.
The discount may take the form of a cash amount, a percentage off your bill, a lower standing charge, or simply a cheaper unit rate per kilowatt hour.
Reduce your household admin
Opting for dual fuel means receiving one bill from one supplier and making a single payment each month (or quarter if you opt for quarterly billing). If you are required to submit meter readings, you’ll only need to contact one company for both electricity and gas.
Having separate suppliers for gas and electricity doubles the amount of admin you need to do. You’ll need to log in to two separate websites to submit meter readings, check your account or view your statement. If you pay for energy on receipt of a paper bill, you will have to keep an eye out for two separate bills from separate companies at, possibly, different times.
A dual fuel tariff also makes things easier if you move house as you’ll only have to contact one company to arrange to terminate your contract.
The fuel is the same
There’s no difference between the electricity or gas you get from one supplier to that of a competitor: no company offers 'better' gas or electricity than its rivals. The main differentials between providers are price, customer service and the supplier’s approach to renewable or green energy.
You only need one smart meter
Smart meters show how much energy you’re using in real-time for both gas and electricity. They are currently being rolled out across the UK and the Government is keen on having the devices installed in as many homes as possible.
If you are on a dual fuel tariff, you’ll only need to have one smart meter installed and this will show you both your gas and electricity consumption. If you have separate suppliers for gas and electricity, you’ll need to have two smart meters installed.
The case for separate providers for gas and electricity
Dual fuel isn’t always cheaper
It’s not necessarily the case that a dual fuel deal will always save you money. If you look closely at all the possible energy providers, you may find the cheapest option is to get your gas from one supplier and your electricity from another. The winning combination depends on where you live, how much energy you use, and the products available at the time you switch.
It’s always a good idea to run an energy comparison, looking at both dual fuel tariffs and separate suppliers, before making a decision.
You can switch one fuel at a time
If you have separate contracts for gas and electricity it’s easier to switch suppliers if you spot a cheap deal for one type of energy. Say, for example, you saw a super-cheap gas-only tariff: you could switch gas suppliers while remaining on the same electricity contract.
However, make sure you watch out for “exit fees”. These are cancellation charges if you leave a supplier before the end of a fixed period and are normally between £10 and £40 per fuel.
It’s easier to manage your consumption
Opting for single-fuel deals may help you manage your consumption better. Individual bills and separate smart meters could give you a clearer picture of exactly how much you’re spending on each type of fuel.
Which providers offer dual fuel?
The vast majority of energy suppliers offer a dual fuel deal. The easiest way to find a money-saving dual fuel deal is to search an energy-switching comparison site which will list all available suppliers and their tariffs in your area.
Is a dual fuel tariff right for me?
There’s no definitive answer as to whether dual fuel tariffs are better than taking gas and electricity from separate providers.
Household energy deals change all the time with new tariffs being launched each week. It may be the case that a dual fuel product is a best buy one day, but beaten on price by separate contracts the next. It’s not the only way to save money on your bills either. You can also reduce costs by opting for paperless bills, online account management, payment by monthly direct debit and, of course, using less energy.
But money isn’t the only issue. Dual fuel tariffs are popular with customers for several other reasons. Taking both gas and electricity from the same company can be more convenient and reduce the amount of household admin you need to do. With a dual fuel tariff, you’ll receive one bill for both types of energy and will only need to make a single payment each month (or quarter, if that’s how you receive your bills).
If you run your account online, you’ll only need to log into one website to input meter readings for both types of fuel. If your meter needs to be read by your supplier for any reason, you’ll only have one company sending a representative to your home. Households with smart meters will have just one meter installed, not two separate ones.
Finally, if you run into any problems with your account, billing or supply, or move home, a dual fuel tariff means you only need to contact one company, not two.