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4 steps to getting a better energy deal

Energy suppliers don’t reward you for loyalty. And that could mean you’re overpaying by hundreds of pounds. Find out how to get the best deal for your energy.

Before you start, make sure you have the following information at the ready:

  • the name of your current supplier and current tariff
  • how much you spent on electricity and gas in the past year. Look at past bills or ask your current supplier, otherwise work it out approximately
  • how you currently pay, e.g. cheque or direct debit
  • how you would like to pay in future
  • your postcode.

See what other deals your supplier offers

You may be paying too much for your energy. Many people are on their supplier’s standard tariff, which is unlikely to be the best deal.

Your supplier will offer a range of tariffs, some of which may work out cheaper for you. Your bills and other statements should give you some possible cheaper options, or you can call your supplier to ask.

You may save more money by switching to a different supplier. Switching supplier doesn’t change the energy you receive at all, just who you pay for it, so there’s no need to change any pipes or cables. This also means you don’t need to worry about an interruption to your energy supply when switching.

You can contact a supplier directly to ask about their best deals. They should be able to give you this information over the phone or send you pricing details on request. However, it can be easier to use a Price Comparison Website to compare tariffs as there are a large number on offer.

It is also important to give regular meter readings for accurate bills, check your bills for accuracy and raise any concerns with your supplier.

How do I choose the best energy deal for me?

When comparing prices, ask yourself:

  • Are there any special offers or discounts? If so, how long will these run for?
  • Are there any extra or hidden charges?
  • Is the payment schedule and method right for you? Direct debit is usually the cheapest method, saving an average of £100 a year compared with paying by cash, card or cheque, but you may feel more comfortable paying on receipt of a bill.
  • How much is the standing charge and the consumption charge? The standing charge is a fixed amount that covers the cost of maintaining your supply, and the consumption charge is the amount you’re charged for the gas or electricity you use. Some companies have a low standing charge and balance this with a high consumption charge.

Check how you’re paying

Are you paying your energy bills in the most cost-effective way? Most suppliers offer a discount if you pay by direct debit instead of cash or cheque. Paperless billing, where you manage your account online instead of receiving bills in the post, may also work out cheaper.

Only change your payment method if you know this would work for you. Many people like having paper bills, and direct debits that are fixed can lead to you overpaying or underpaying for your energy.

Switch supplier to get a better deal

You may save more money in this way if you switch energy supplier. You can use an Ofgem-accredited price comparison website to help you compare deals across a range of suppliers. Many of these websites have a telephone service you can use if you’re not online.

It's important to use an impartial website. Look for the Confidence Code logo, which is a sign that the site has signed up to Ofgem’s voluntary code of practice and will offer independent and unbiased comparisons.

Many Ofgem-accredited websites also offer a telephone service you can use if you’re not online. Here are some accredited websites that carry the Confidence Code and offer a telephone service:

When you’ve found the right tariff, you can switch via a price comparison website or by calling the supplier. If you're switching suppliers, your new supplier will contact your current one to carry out the switch.

Switching normally takes 17 or 18 days, which includes a two-week 'cooling-off period', during which you can cancel the switch without penalty. If you’re in credit with your current supplier, make sure you claim the money back from them when you switch.

Speak to someone if you’re in difficulty

If you’re having difficulty paying your bills, speak to your supplier as soon as you can. They'll let you know how they can help you avoid getting into debt.

If you're already in debt, you may be able to agree on a repayment plan to pay your arrears or have a prepayment meter installed.

If you do not want to deal directly with your supplier, you can ask an adviser to contact them on your behalf.

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Last updated: Aug 29 2019

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