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Can you switch your energy to a cheaper deal?

New rules mean you can change energy tariff in just 17 days – and save close to £300 per year on your bills.

You can now change your tariff in two and a half weeks – down from the previous timescale of five to six weeks. 

Why is this good news? Well, according to the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC), many of us could save close to £300 a year by switching energy supplier. This is particularly true for anyone who has never changed energy tariff. 

At the moment nine energy suppliers (British Gas, Ecotricity, EDF Energy, E.ON, First Utility, Good Energy, npower, Spark Energy, SSE and Utility Warehouse) are offering 17 day switching, but the rest are set to follow shortly.

Finding a cheaper energy plan

How can you find the cheapest energy tariff? Simply run a quick and free energy comparison on one of the websites which have agreed to be impartial and independent as part of Ofgem’s Confidence Code. Feel free to run a comparison on several websites as they may give you different results. Some even offer bonuses such as cashback when you switch.

Once you’ve picked a comparison website, you’ll need to arm yourself with a copy of a recent energy bill. The bill will contain the information you need to switch, including the name of your current supplier and energy tariff, as well as your usage in kWh.

Input all of this information into the comparison website and unless you’re already on the cheapest plan, you should end up with a list of cheaper tariffs. Check your bill to see if you’ll be charged exit fees before making a decision.

Fixed and variable tariffs

At present, the cheapest energy plans for the average user are short-term fixed rate tariffs. This means that the amount of money you pay per unit of energy won’t change over the duration of your contract. This does not mean that your bills will stay the same – if you use more energy you’ll pay more.

What fixed prices do offer is protection from energy price rises. So if your supplier decides to raise energy prices, having a fixed plan means your unit costs won’t change. On the other hand, if energy prices fall, you won’t benefit from any cuts and might be charged a cancellation fee to switch again

Big and small energy suppliers

In the past 12 months a number of small energy suppliers such as OVO Energy and First Utility have begun offering inexpensive energy tariffs. These suppliers are attracting more and more customers and their expansion has been welcomed by Ofgem.

You don’t need to worry about switching to a less-established energy provideras there are rules which mean if anything goes wrong at the suppliers end, homes won’t find themselves without access to energy.

What if I don’t want to change supplier?

Your energy supplier has to let you know if they offer a cheaper tariff than the one you’re on at the moment. You can find this on your energy bill.Just contact your supplier if you want to change to this cheaper deal.

Should I wait for more energy cuts?

You might have seen that E.ON have cut gas bills for customers on variable tariffs with the rest of the big energy suppliers expected to do the same. Despite these cuts, you're still pay less by opting for a one of the cheapest fixed price tariffs on offer. If an even cheaper fixed price plan appears, you can always switch to that, although, depending on your tariff you may have to pay exit fees. 

What do you think?

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  • philip / 4 March 2015

    my problem is that I am scard of to much debt and that might not be able to get it back to the right people

  • philip / 4 March 2015

    how do you cope with the thourght of all that money in your hands

  • David Cooper / 18 February 2015

    I have had "Hive" Central Heating System fitted by my current dual-fuel supplier - British Gas. Will I be able to change my supplier
    --------------------------------------------
    ADMIN: Hi David, you'll need to check the terms and conditions from British Gas. That will say whether you are tied into a contract

  • James Ashi / 5 February 2015

    I want to switch..please advise me further

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    Admin: Hi James, if you call our contact centre, they'll be able to provide free and impartial money advice. Go to moneyadviceservice.org.uk for the link to webchat or call us on 0300 500 5000.

  • Simon Mortimer / 5 February 2015

    In the past we were often urged to shelter under fixed rates but in all the years I had a fixed rate for my mortgage, variable rates went much lower so I've ended up paying much more.
    Now the same has happened with energy, went for a fixed rate as wholesale prices soared due to oil & gas in politically sensitive world areas & now prices dramatically reduced due to glut of supply but we're stuck with the problem once again and paying the price for trying to be sensible as we're just ordinary consumers and not professional speculators the energy companies employ. Normally, even if you can switch from a fixed deal, energy companies will claw back any loss to them in charges. Pity they're not obliged to refund us the consumer for all the years of overcharging.

  • TT / 5 February 2015

    your website,articles etc are brill....easy to read/understand/use

    a BIG thankyou
    TT