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Are you unnecessarily wasting cash on your energy bills? It only takes 20 minutes to check, and it could save you over £200 a year.
There are two filling stations on your road. Your neighbour always goes to the closest one – he hasn’t even checked the price at the one further down. If he did, he’d find out it’s 10p cheaper a litre which over the year would save him over £150!
You’d think nobody would be so careless, but that’s exactly what four out of five people are doing by not comparing gas and electricity prices. If this applies to you, then do something about it today.
Switching gas and electricity suppliers - the basics
What you need to start is:
- The name of your current supplier and the tariff you are on
- An idea of how much energy you use, preferably in kWh (Kilowatt hours) – you can find this on your bill, or give your supplier a call - if you’re not sure, knowing how much you spend will probably be enough.
Then just follow the simple steps below:
- Step 1 – Check whether it’s a good time to switch
- Step 2 – Choose a comparison site
- Step 3 – Decide if it’s worth fixing your energy tariff
- Step 4 – Follow our switching tips
Step 1 – Check whether it’s a good time to switch
Energy prices rise and fall depending on the market. Martin Lewis over at MoneySavingExpert.com keeps an eye on this, so check his switching indicator to find out.
Don’t get stuck with penalty charges. Make sure you know whether your contract ties you in for a set time, and what the penalty is if you break it.
Step 2 – Choose a comparison site
Some comparison sites are more reliable than others. Look out for sites that stick to the Confidence Code voluntary code of practice. This is designed to make sure you get an impartial and reliable service.
You can find a full list of Ofgem accredited price comparison sites on the energy regulator’s Energy Shopping website.
Always try a handful of different sites – they may give different results.
Cashback and rewards from comparison sites
Get a little something extra by picking a comparison site that’s running a special reward offer. Some offer cashback rewards for switching through them. These are paid into your account a little while after you switch (usually within 3-4 months). With others, rewards might be things like a crate of wine or Amazon vouchers.
These offers change all the time – MoneySavingExpert.com keeps a list of the latest deals.
Step 3 – Decide if it’s worth fixing your energy tariff
Getting a fixed tariff means the price you pay for energy won’t change during the term of the contract. It’s good if you’re worried about whether you could afford price hikes – you know what you’ll pay in advance, so you can plan for it.
If you don’t mind slightly unpredictable bills – and it looks like energy prices are likely to stay the same or fall – then there isn’t much reason to fix your tariff. You can read more about the pros and cons of fixing in the section ‘Fixing FAQ’ on the MoneySavingExpert website.
Step 4 – Follow our switching tips
- Choose an online tariff. With these you manage your account online and supply your own meter readings. It saves the supplier the cost of sending out someone to do it – and that saving gets passed on to you.
- Don’t automatically take the Dual Fuel option (getting your gas and electricity from the same supplier). It isn’t always cheapest so check first.
- Pay by Direct Debit. It tends to be cheaper.
What about collective switching?
Collective switching is a way for consumers to group together and use their collective buying power to negotiate lower energy tariffs.
The way it works is that you register your interest in collective switching – usually by putting your details into a website. A ‘reverse auction’ then takes place which is won by the energy company offering the lowest tariff. The scheme organisers then contact everyone who registered to let you know how much you could save if you switched. You don’t have to switch at this point. But if you do decide to go ahead, the whole process is managed by the scheme.
Joining a collective buying scheme is not always the best route to cheaper bills. It’s quite likely that switching as an individual will get you an even cheaper price (and will get quicker results). But, if you don’t want to (or can’t) shop around yourself, collective buying is usually better than just sticking with your existing tariff.
The schemes are run by a range of different organisations. You could see if your local council is running a scheme, or if you live in Wales, there is a scheme called Cyd Cymru which is backed by the Welsh Government.
More ways to save
Save money with energy efficiency
The most effective way to save on your energy bills is to use less energy – find out more in our guide below which covers everything from getting grants towards the cost of insulation or more efficient boilers to simple money-saving tips such as turning down your thermostat!