How to find the best energy tariff
Rising energy bills are responsible for driving up inflation and have become so expensive debt charities warn they are contributing to rising household debt levels. When looking to compare energy prices, factor in our tips so you can heat your home at minimal cost.
- Check what you pay now. Most of the big six energy firms have increased their prices in the last year, so it's easy to lose track of what you're spending. You can check how much energy you currently use by looking at your energy bills for the past year – try to use bills based on real meter readings, rather than estimates as these will give you a more accurate reflection of what you pay.
- You'll also need to input your address, the name of your current supplier, your current payment method, and the exact tariff you're currently on. Again, all can be found on existing bills. If you know your annual kWh consumption you'll get an ever more accurate comparison.
- Find a tariff that suits you. You generally have a choice between a fixed or a variable tariff. With a variable tariff, your bill can go up or down depending on energy prices; but with fixed-rate tariffs, the price you pay for gas and electricity is fixed for the length of the deal. Fixed tariffs protect consumers against price rises but (on the rare occasion) when prices fall, people on these tariffs lose out.
- Consider an online plan. Online tariffs are often the best energy prices on the market. The average saving that can be made by moving from a standard plan (paying by cash or cheque) to an online plan, paying by direct debit is around £200-£250.
- When looking to compare energy prices, remember that some providers may charge exit fees, so check with your current provider and consider this when working out your overall saving.
- Speak to your current provider and tell it about the best energy prices you have found elsewhere. Providers want your custom, so it's possible they will offer you a better deal in return for your loyalty.
- Once you've filled in your online application, the switching process will start within 24 hours – although you have a 'cooling off' period of (this varies but tends to be seven to ten days) during which you can cancel the application should you wish. Once the cooling off period has ended, your new provider will contact your current provider to arrange the switch, which is guaranteed to take between four and eight weeks.