How to choose a new energy supplier
Household fuel bills are soaring. This isn't helped by the fact that the six biggest energy providers have all announced price hikes in the past year.
Here are five things to think about when choosing whether to switch provider.
1. Check what you pay now
British Gas, Scottish Power, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), E.ON, EDF Energy and npower have all introduced price increases in the past 12 months so it is well worth checking your current bill.
2. Consider online plans
While prices have risen across the board, you could still make savings by switching your provider, especially if you move to an online plan and pay by direct debit.
"The difference between the most expensive plan (Scottish Power's Dual fuel) and the cheapest (EDF Energy's Online Saver 8) is £335," says Katherine Cooper, spokesperson for uSwitch.com. "The average saving that can be made by moving from a standard plan (paying by cash or cheque) to an online plan is £224."
Cooper says, on average, customers can make savings of £254.
3. Use a comparison site
The best way to have a saving is to use a price comparison website to discover the best deal. Log on to a site such as energyhelpline.com and see which deals are available. But remember, some providers may charge exit fees, so check with your current provider and consider this when working out your overall saving.
4. Find the tariff that suits you
Rather than just looking for the biggest saving, you also need to consider whether the deal is right for you. "For example, you should ask yourself if you want a fixed price," says Mark Todd, director of the independent price comparison website energyhelpline.com. "If so, it might be best to opt for a fixed-price deal – although you may lose out if the price falls."
Once you have found a better deal elsewhere, call your current provider and let it know. Providers want your custom, so it's possible they will offer you a better deal in return for your loyalty.