Beware First Utility bill spike

11 April 2013

With what has to be the longest winter in my living memory stretching not just into March but well into April, it’s never been more important to make sure you aren’t paying over the odds on your energy bills.

Back in November, my bargain deal came to an end, so rather than seeing my costs spike just as I needed to turn on the heating I decided to switch. Little did I know back then just how much we’d be firing up our boiler.

I’m prone to putting off such chores but the process was dead easy and using an online comparison service I was able to bag a great fixed deal just days before it was withdrawn. All I needed was our usage details which I was able to get from my existing supplier’s website and with minimal effort on my part everything was transferred over to my new supplier within a matter of weeks.

Our new supplier is First Utility and it’s the first time we’ve bought our energy from a non ‘Big Six’ provider. And despite reading several reports on its poor customer service since, I have to say that we haven’t had any problems.

But what didn’t register when I signed up with this small supplier was that because we supply our meter readings once a month, we literally pay for what we have used over the last four weeks, rather than having our annual use spread across 12 equal monthly payments. 

And with the winter we’ve just had, that means we’ve had the mother of all bill shocks. Used to paying roughly £80 or so a month to keep the lights on and the radiators warm in our three-bed semi, our January bill shot up to almost £180 and February wasn’t much better at £150.

So if you’re on a tight monthly budget and can’t afford these winter spikes, it’s worth checking out how your bills will be calculated before you switch. At the moment First Utility is the only supplier we are aware of that charges its customers in this way, but with the move towards smart meters and customers increasingly taking responsibility to submit their own readings, it’s something we may all need to become more aware of going forward.

I don’t regret switching to First Utility as I know I’m getting a good deal for each unit of energy we use – I’m just looking forward to recouping the cash over the summer, when fingers-crossed, our bills will be substantially smaller.