Switching energy suppliers is the quickest and easiest way to save money on your gas and electricity bills. Although Ofgem introduced an energy price cap at the beginning of 2019, saving 11 million customers across the country an average of £76 a year, even bigger savings could be made by switching.
If you are on your supplier’s default tariff you could save up to £350* a year if you switch. Ofgem recently announced that the price cap will rise by £117 a year in April, meaning the potential savings you can make by finding a new tariff will be even higher.
Even if you’ve switched recently, or you’re happy with your current supplier, it’s always worth looking at new deals regularly as prices are constantly changing - meaning it’s likely you could save even more by switching again.
Many energy tariffs will come with an exit fee that you must pay if you decide to leave your contract early. While not all tariffs will have this, it’s important to check with your current supplier if what you'll be liable to pay if you exit your contract before its term is finished. Weigh this up against any savings you could make by switching. If your contract is close to finishing, it may be worth waiting a few months until it’s expired before switching to avoid paying an exit fee.
Comparing energy suppliers is a no brainer - it’s simple, doesn’t take long, and you could end up saving hundreds. Our free and impartial comparison service here at Money Expert is easy to use - all you need is your postcode and details of your current tariff (don’t worry if you don’t know exact details, we can generate estimates).
The whole process only takes a couple of minutes and at the end, we’ll show you a list of the available tariffs in your area, along with the amount you’d save if you switched. You’ll also be able to see customer ratings for each supplier, so you’ve got all the information you need to work out which one to switch to.
If you choose a fixed rate energy tariff, the price of your gas and electricity will stay at the same level for a fixed amount of time. The term usually lasts around 12 months but can sometimes be as long as 3 years.
You should remember that it’s the unit price of your energy that’s fixed, not the price of your bills. The amount you pay each month depends on your consumption – the more gas and electricity you use the higher your bills will be.
Fixed rate tariffs are useful if you want to keep on track of how much you’re spending on your gas and electricity. During the length of your term you will be protected from any rises in the price of energy. On the other hand, if the price of gas or electricity was to fall, you wouldn’t see any benefits from this as you have agreed to pay a fixed price for your energy.
Most fixed rate tariffs will have exit fees if you decide to leave your contract early, making it more difficult to switch and save money in the future. Your deal will usually last between 12 months to 3 years. Once your deal expires, you will be rolled onto your supplier’s standard variable rate, at which point you are free to compare tariffs and switch.
If you choose a variable rate tariff, the price you pay for each unit of energy can go up or down depending on market conditions. So, they might be an attractive option if they start at a low rate, but you could see sharp rises in your energy bills if the wholesale price of energy increases.
If you let your current energy deal expire without switching or renewing it, then you will probably be moved onto your supplier’s standard variable tariff. This is their default tariff, and usually one of their least competitive rates. If you are on a standard variable energy tariff for any reason, you should compare prices today and make the switch – you could save hundreds of pounds a year on your bills. The one advantage of a standard variable tariff is that you are free to leave at any time as you won’t be charged an exit fee.
You can either get your gas and electricity separately from different suppliers, or get them together under one contract, known as a dual fuel tariff. Getting both your gas and electricity from the same supplier can make your life easier, with less bills to keep on track of and an easier process when it comes to switching, and it can save you money too.
Many suppliers will give you a discount for choosing a dual fuel tariff, but this doesn’t mean that it’s always cheaper to pair your gas and electricity together. The amount you pay for your energy will depend on where you live and how much of each fuel you use. Also, suppliers are constantly changing their household energy tariffs and offering new deals. It’s always worth doing a price comparison of both dual fuel and single fuel tariffs to see how much money you could save by switching.
If you’re concerned about how your gas and electricity consumption is affecting the environment, you should consider getting a ‘green’ energy tariff. Green energy is derived from renewable sources including wind, solar, hydroelectric power and biofuels among others.
Green tariffs can work in a few different ways. Your energy could be supplied from 100% renewable sources, or a mixture of renewable and non-renewable. Alternatively, your supplier could match your energy consumption by committing to produce the same amount from green sources. Other green tariffs involve your supplier contributing towards environmental projects on your behalf.
While green energy tariffs used to be quite expensive, increased public interest and government initiatives in recent years has led to their prices being much more competitive. However, a renewable tariff probably still won’t be the cheapest deal on the market. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to go green and save money at the same time. Use our price comparison service to see if you can find a green tariff that’s cheaper than your current deal and make the switch today to start saving.
It’s important to know how your gas and electricity meters work, as you will be asked to take meter readings from time to time. Knowing how to read them will help you to know if you’re being billed accurately for your energy usage, and whether you can find better rates by switching to a new tariff.
Credit meters are the standard, traditional gas and electricity meters that most people still have in their homes. You will need to take regular meter readings, between every one to six months, to let your supplier know roughly how much energy you use. These readings will be used by your supplier to give you a bill based on your estimated consumption.
To read a traditional credit meter, note down the first five numbers in black displayed from left to right and ignore any numbers in red after this. If you have an older dial meter it gets a bit trickier. You need to read the dials from left to right, making a note of the number that the needle has just passed. You should be aware that the direction of the needles change from dial to dial. Ignore any red or large dial on the right if there is one.
Smart meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters that are being rolled out across the UK. The government plan for every household and small business in the country to be offered a smart meter installation by the end of 2020.
The meters work by recording how much gas and electricity you use in your home, and they then send this information back to your energy supplier who will bill you based on your usage. Therefore, you should receive accurate bills instead of the estimated bills that you get with a standard meter, and you would no longer have to submit meter readings.
Smart meters also display how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence, in real time. This way you can have more control of how much energy you use at home and can make changes to your habits to help save you money.
Also known as pay as you go meters, prepayment meters let you pay for your gas and electricity before you use it. They are typically used by people who have had trouble paying their energy bills in the past or have been in high levels of debt. They are also found in a lot of rented properties.
With a prepayment meter you will be given a key or card to top up, which you can do so either at your local shop or online via an app. If you fail to top up your prepayment meter, your gas and electricity can be cut off.
Prepayment meters usually come with a display that tells you how much credit you have left. To take a meter reading, there is normally a button you can press which will change the display to your reading, which you would read the same way you would with a standard credit meter.