Why the rush to switch?
Gas and electricity bills leap over the winter months - many consumers spend around 40% of their annual usage over the three months from November to February. This isn't surprising given the weather but usage tends to be particularly high over the festive season because people are at home more. But it takes up to six weeks to switch supplier so there's not time to waste if you want to move to a cheaper deal in time for Christmas.
This year, the jump in energy bills is likely to be even bigger than usual because of the huge price increases we've seen.
Gas prices have soared by an average of 47%, while electricity bills have increased by around 29%, yet the full impact of these price hikes have yet to be felt because we are only just entering the season for peak usage.
It's not all bad news though: oil and wholesales gas prices have plummeted in recent months which means consumers can expect energy costs to be cut (although providers warn we won't feel the benefit until next year). In the meantime households should look to minimise their bills by switching provider and taking simple steps to reduce their consumption.
How can you reduce the impact of this year's price hikes?
The first step is to ensure you're on the most competitive tariff for your usage. Prices vary depending on where you live, the size of your home and the amount of gas and electricity you use.
If like most people, you are on your provider's standard deal and are paying on receipt of a quarterly bill you will almost certainly be able to save money.
The cheapest route is to opt for an online tariff and to pay by monthly direct debit. British Gas' Click Energy 6 tariff currently offers the best value for most households - it costs an average of £1,057 a year, compared with a £1,328 for British Gas' standard deal. This represents a saving of £271.
The easiest way to identify which provider offers the best deal for you is to use our
gas and electricity comparison tool.
The table below shows the average annual cost of different tariffs:
£1,427.60 Fixed Price 2012
£1056.86 Click Energy 6
£1,302.48 Price Protector 2010
£1,063.27 Sol 14
£1,168.93 Price Freeze 2009
£1,168.93 Monthly Standard
£1,224.43 Fixed Price 2010
£1,142.70 Energy Online Extra Saver 10
Scottish & Southern
£1,129.10 Atlantic Online
£1,212.74 Fixed Price Energy Dec 2009
£1,140.57 Discounted Energy
Sourced by moneysupermarket.com on November 20, 2008.
How else can you keep costs down?
Look to minimise your energy consumption to save - here are some tips:
Think about how long your heating is on for. On cold winter days, and particularly over Christmas when many people are off work and at home most of the time, it's easy to have the heating on constantly. You can significantly cut your heating bills by putting it on timer and also by turning the thermostat down by one degree. If you get cold, put an extra jumper on.
Don't let your house look like Blackpool illuminations. Turn lights off as you leave a room (unless there is someone else still in it, of course). Also, switch to energy saving bulbs.
Boil less water - unless you are making tea and coffee for the whole family, there's no need to fill the kettle. Only use the amount of water you need as it'll use less electricity to bring it to the boil.
Switch appliances off. Leaving televisions and computers on standby may be convenient but it's also costly. As a nation we waste £800million a year by doing this.
Lag your water tank - a lagging jacket for a hot water cylinder only costs about £15 but it could save you £30 a year because of the heat you're conserving.
Invest in insulation - Loft and cavity wall insulation, is more expensive than buying a lagging jacket for your hot water tank, but it is a good investment. It costs around £200 to insulate a loft and £150 for cavity wall insulation, and the combined annual savings are £160 so it should pay for itself within a couple of years. There are Government grants available, so check with your local council to see if you qualify.
For more ideas, check out our
'Energy saving tips' article.
Disclaimer: Please note that any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.
Rate This Article
Click on a star to rate this article.