Consumers have already been warned that gas and electricity costs could rise by another 40% before the end of the year and as the price of oil continues its upward surge, unfortunately, this eventuality is an increasing possibility.
Energy bills have already risen by an average of 15% this year and further increases will be terrible news for millions of consumers already finding it hard to make ends meet. At the time of publication, more than 2,900 people had voted in a moneysupermarket.com poll about energy bills and 40% said they are struggling to pay their gas and electricity costs as it is, and definitely couldn't cope with a 40% price increase. A further 46% said they could just about manage with prices at the current level, but would have real difficulties if bills went up.
Around 60% of households are still on their provider's standard tariff and with life becoming increasingly tough because of rising living costs, it has never been more important to ensure you are not paying more than you need for any of your utilities or other home services. And despite energy prices being at record levels, anyone on a standard tariff who still pays quarterly, could save money by switching to a cheaper alternative.
Online tariffs offer the best value - the average household could save £265 a year by switching from Scottish Power's standard dual fuel tariff to British Gas' Click Energy 5 product. However, if you fancy changing supplier and helping the environment at the same time, the green tariffs offered by five of the six major energy firms are also cheaper than their standard deals (see below).
Why go green? The Government is planning huge emphasis on the importance of green energy having recently pledged to spend £100 million over the next decade to boost renewable energy in the UK. However, while in theory most households would be happy to go green there is a cost factor involved, particularly at the moment when money is tight.
However, the good news is that the gap between cheapest and green is closing making it a viable option for more people to consider. An online tariff is still the cheapest option but you don't have to pay much more each month to help the environment. You can compare green energy deals using our comparison tool. The table below illustrates how the main energy providers' online deals compare to their green tariffs:
The second table illustrates that savings can be made by switching from a standard to a green energy tariff:
Green tariffs offer a great alternative for eco-friendly consumers and our research shows it doesn't cost over the odds to help the environment. However, while most of us want to reduce our carbon footprint, the reality is the majority of UK households just want cheaper bills and the most savvy may just opt for the best value deal. How to protect against price rises While opting for an online or green tariff would work out as the quickest and easiest way to save money in the short term for those who are moving off standard tariffs, they will not protect you from the affects of further increases in energy bills. People who want peace of mind should consider a fixed or capped energy tariff. These deals are more expensive than the leading variable rate products. Scottish Power's Fixed Price Energy 2009, is the best fixed tariff and it costs an average of £1.021.26 a year - however, if energy prices do go up the savings available from an online or green product could easily be wiped out.
Anyone wanting to take up one of these fixed offers should move quickly as they have limited availability. To see how fixed tariffs compare, click here.
Tips to cut energy bills
Changing your energy tariff is not the only way to save money on your bills and help the environment. There are small changes to your everyday life that anyone can do to make a difference.
Wash clothes at 30°C instead of 40°C
Turn thermostat down 1°C
Close doors to unoccupied rooms so that heat does not escape
Turn radiators off in unoccupied rooms as there is no point heating a room that no-one will benefit from.
Boil kettle with required amount of water as it is pointless boiling water and using extra energy if you don't need it.
Loft insulation will minimise the heat that escapes from your home.
Draw curtains to stop heat escaping through draughts in window frames.
Cavity wall insulation will help to keep heat in your home. Ensure heating is timed to only come on when is necessary i.e. in a home where everyone works full time there is no need to heat an empty house.
Have your say: Have you 'gone green' and saved money? Which product and which provider came out on top where the environment was concerned? How much did you save? Share your energy saving tips in our forum. Disclaimer: Please note that any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.
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