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What is a dual fuel discount and how do I get one?

By Aaron Howdle
Thursday, April 5th 2018

A dual fuel deal offers a discount to customers taking both gas and electricity from the same provider. Dual fuel deals are offered by most energy suppliers, but with so many energy companies operating in the UK, it can be tricky to find the best one.

UK energy prices have been falling steadily over the last decade but this is not always reflected in the energy rates many of us pay. Increased competition among providers has led to some great energy deals for those prepared to seek them out and a dual fuel plan can be a good option for many households. But what exactly is a dual fuel plan and will it save you money?

What is a dual fuel discount?

Customers on a dual fuel plan receive both gas and electricity from the same supplier. You can move to a dual fuel plan with your existing supplier or switch to a new one. A dual fuel discount comes into play when cheaper tariffs or a discount are offered to customers switching to a dual fuel plan. However these plans don't always offer a discount, so it's important to check before switching.

Receiving one bill for both gas and electricity is undoubtedly more convenient and if you have any problems you only need to contact one company. There are also advantages for the supplier, which saves on administration costs, while selling you more fuel.

How do I get a dual fuel discount?

First, you will need to find a good dual fuel deal. It's a good idea to shop around by visiting the various suppliers' websites or use a comparison site like uSwitch. When checking potential suppliers' websites, it is useful to know how much gas and electricity you use per month – you can find this information on your previous bills.

The next step is to check if your current supplier charges an exit fee. If it does, you will need to weigh this cost against any future savings. Once you have made a decision, you can sign up with your new provider.

Compare today's best energy deals

Cable.co.uk currently recommends the following energy comparison sites. Click the logo to visit their site and find the best deal for you.

Is dual fuel always cheaper?

Dual fuel is usually offered as a variable, fixed, or online tariff. Variable rate tariffs, also known as a standard variable rate tariffs (SVRs), are the default out-of-plan prices offered by energy suppliers, and are often the most expensive rates for gas and electricity

Fixed-rate energy tariffs charge a set price for gas and electricity over a specified period, usually between one and four years. During this period you are protected against price hikes. Fixed-rate deals are usually the most competitively priced.

An online energy tariff requires you to manage your bills via the internet – meter readings are submitted online and bills are usually accessed via your energy supplier's website or sent via email. These tariffs are often cheaper than SVRs because paperless billing makes them cheaper for your supplier to administer.

The size of the discount you can get by switching to a dual fuel plan varies by supplier and the type of plan. Some suppliers offer a very small discount while others can save you hundreds of pounds a year. Dual fuel tariffs are often cheaper than SVRs, but complicated tariffs and the rise of suppliers who specialise in single fuels can mean that dual-fuel tariffs do not always offer the best value for money.

The way your household uses gas and electricity can also have a bearing on the savings you can make. Individual households may use a lot more gas than electricity, or vice versa. It's definitely worth doing as much research as possible by regularly shopping around and comparing offers before committing to a contract.

It is also worth bearing in mind that simply switching energy supplier to the cheapest available deal – whether dual fuel or single fuel – is the best way to save money. It is possible to save hundreds of pounds per year if you have not switched for a long time.

Is it difficult to change providers?

Changing energy supplier is usually as simple as signing up with a new supplier. Your new energy company will take care of the switch for you. If there is an exit fee, it will normally be included in the final bill from your old supplier. It usually takes around 17 days for your electricity and gas to switch.

Under some circumstances, it isn't possible to change supplier. For example, if you are in debt to a supplier, you might not be able to switch. The same applies if you use a pre-payment meter which has a debt of more than £500 attached to it. You might not be able to switch until your debt is cleared.

What else can I do to save money?

man eyes up energy bill

If your fixed price plan is about to end, it's important to compare the prices available elsewhere. This is because when a fixed price plan ends, your supplier will usually move you onto its standard variable rate plan, which will invariably be more expensive.

Take regular meter readings

This is important if you pay a fixed monthly amount for your gas and electricity, because fixed payments can lead to overpayment. Your energy company might have overestimated the amount of energy you use, or your energy needs may have decreased (for example, a member of your household has left home, so you use less power).

Providing accurate meter readings will reveal if you are paying too much. On the other hand, you may be paying too little, in which case accurate meter readings will prevent a surprise debt from being revealed next time your meter is read. If you are not paying a fixed monthly amount, similar problems can arise with estimated bills, so you could still be paying too much or too little.

Get a smart meter (if you can)

Smart meters are being rolled out gradually across the UK, and should be available to all homes by 2020. You will need to check with your supplier if they are available in your area. Gas and electricity each require its own smart meter which, access permitting, is usually fitted in the same location as your old meter.

A smart meter automatically sends meter readings to your energy supplier, making estimated bills a thing of the past. They also come with a handy in-home display, which shows how much energy you have used in kilowatt hours (kWh) as well as the cost so far in pounds and pence, allowing you to monitor and control your energy spending.

Smart meters are part of the so-called 'smart grid', an upgrade to the UK's energy supply grid. Smart meters keep energy companies accurately informed about how much energy is being used at different times of day, which should help them predict the UK's energy requirements more accurately.

Switch things off

Switch off lights when you leave a room and avoid leaving appliances and devices in standby mode. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average household wastes £30 a year by leaving appliances like televisions and set-top boxes on standby. You can save money by simply turning alliances off at the socket or unplugging them when not in use.

There are also plenty of devices around the home that use a charger or power adapter. Some common devices are broadband routers and the various chargers used with laptops, tablets and mobile phones. The chargers for these devices often continue to use electricity when they are not in use. Save money by unplugging them when they are not needed.

For some time now, new appliances have been supplied with an energy rating, which shows how much power they use. If you are planning to buy a new fridge or washing machine, you can save on energy bills by choosing one which uses power more economically.

Insulate your home

If you are a home owner, you can save money in the long term by insulating your home more effectively. Cheaper measures include fitting draft excluders on all your door frames and ensuring your loft is properly insulated. Pricier options include installing double glazing and cavity wall insulation.

Install a modern condensing combi-boiler

If your home has an old gas boiler or an immersion heater, it is worth considering an upgrade to a modern condensing combi-boiler. These use significantly less energy and are much more efficient; you will notice some significant savings on your gas bill after installation. Be sure to get a boiler with enough output for the size of your home. Lower output combi-boilers can leave upstairs radiators cold in larger houses. Very large houses might need to look at other types of boiler, so be sure to do your research.

Compare today's best energy deals

Cable.co.uk currently recommends the following energy comparison sites. Click the logo to visit their site and find the best deal for you.

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