Raise your hand if you like paying your energy bills! *dead silence*. We all hate bills, but unfortunately, chances are we’re going to be paying them for the rest of our lives. What we can do, however, is reduce the size of what we have to pay. Pretty much all household bills can be considerably reduced, but none more so that your energy bills. Since 1990, households across the country have had the choice to switch who provides their gas and electricity, a choice hundreds of thousands of people across the country have still not taken advantage of. For a variety of reasons, consumers in the UK still haven’t bothered to switch their tariff, leaving them on the most expensive tariffs the market has to offer. What are these reasons? Who knows, but here’s the reasons you should be switching right now. How much do you save?
There is no set figure: each individual situation is different, meaning you have to assess your potential savings yourself. If you have never switched before, it is likely that there is a few hundred pounds worth of annual savings in it for you regardless of your usage amount. Just to illustrate the sheer amount of savings that are on offer by switching, here’s an example as made on the 19th September 2017:
Electricity usage: 4,000 kWh
Gas usage: 13,400 kWh
Tariff #1 – Npower Standard
Monthly cost: £113.55
Yearly cost: £1,362.56
Tariff #2 – iSupply ‘iFix 12-Month Oct18 v3’
Monthly cost: £86.15
Yearly cost: £1,033.81
Here we can see the extreme difference between the two tariffs. Both of these supplies are exactly the same: same usage; same quality of product; same network usage, the only thing that is changing is the price. In fact, that’s a lie: you’re also getting a much better rated customer service team at your disposal. So, if this was your example above, you would be saving a huge £328.75 per year, just for five minutes of your time, if that!
How do you switch?
Switching your energy tariff has never been easier. You can do this primarily in one of two ways: switch directly through the supplier’s comparison portal; or switch through a designated comparison service. Using the latter option, you will be able to see a much more comprehensive overview of the marketplace, giving you an unbiased display of the savings you could make. There is a huge number of comparison services popping up all over the place, the most popular of which include such companies as Selectra and Money Supermarket .
In order to switch you over, you will sometimes need a little bit of information; however, the majority of suppliers can now switch you over by simply having your name, address and bank details to make the direct debit. Here’s a few possible things that you’ll be asked for:
- Personal information (name, dob etc.)
- Supply address
- Bank details (for direct debit)
- Meter type (to rule out Economy 7 tariffs)
- Current tariff
- Yearly usage amount
All information below ‘bank details’ will generally be optional, although it is definitely recommended that you have it to hand, as it will make your comparison much more accurate.
How to choose the right tariff
You may be thinking, “Surely I just choose the cheapest tariff and have done with it?”. Well, although it may result in your choosing the cheapest offer, you should definitely do a little research before jumping into a contract you’ll later regret. There are certain terms to a deal that will certainly be a dealbreaker for certain customers, which means that you should definitely check a few specifics. Here are some things to think about:
- Length of contract: If you are looking a flexible, short-term contract that you cancel anytime, a fixed tariff is certainly not for you.
- Fixed or variable: Continuing from the last point, choosing fixed or variable is one of the key points of your comparison. A fixed tariff will lock in a certain price for a predetermined length of time, usually a year or two. These will generally be cheaper than variables, but with a variable, you can cancel anytime and it has the chance to decrease or increase in price.
- Standing charge: In a bid to make energy tariffs more transparent, OFGEM made it so that all suppliers have to provide a standing charge on their tariff breakdown, which is designed to display how much of your payment goes towards static charges such as transmission and distribution. Many suppliers are taking advantage of this, though, reducing their standing charge and increasing their unit rate.
- Customer service: Checking the customer service rating of your potential new supplier is extremely important for any issues or discrepancies that you may face in the future.
- Exit fees: Just in case you end up wishing to terminate your contract before the initially agreed date, it is important to find out if you would be subject to any exit fees in this eventuality.
- Renewable or not: Want to do your bit for the environment? Get a 100% renewable energy tariff, reducing the national demand for fossil fuel generation. These tariffs are sometimes slightly more expensive, but not always.