Switching to a new, cheaper energy deal could make a big difference to your bills, though. MoneySupermarket figures show that a typical household could save up to £200 a year simply by moving to a different tariff.

And once you are switch savvy and seeing the benefits, why not help those near and dear to you to save too?

An incredible 12.6 million households are still paying their providers' standard gas and electricity prices, and that is costing them an estimated £2 billion a year more than they could be.

Many of these people are elderly Britons – often on low incomes – who are perhaps not confident enough to look into switching their energy provider online, and might not even have access to a computer or internet-enabled device.

So after saving your own household hundreds of pounds by switching your energy plan, why not take a few minutes to help such a relative or friend switch too?

All you need to do is to enter a few details, such as their address, the details of their current gas and electricity plans and how much energy they use, into the MoneySupermarket search tool, and it will search out the most competitive deals for them.

You can find all the relevant information on a recent energy bill, and once you have one of those it’s a five-minute job that could end up saving them thousands of pounds.

Just follow our simple switching tips below to get the best deal for you and your loved ones.

Finding the best value for money

The best energy deal for you – or your relative or friend – will depend on where in the country you live and how much energy you use.

However, with price hikes on the way, MoneySupermarket is advising families and individuals keen to save money to choose a fixed online tariff - whether that be a 'dual fuel' tariff where you get gas and electricity from the same firm, or separate tariffs for each fuel.

Fixed tariffs may not always be the cheapest on the market. Crucially, however, they fix the price you pay for your gas and electricity for a set period of time, protecting your from price rises within that timeframe.

Just remember: it is important to switch again when the fixed price period comes to an end as you will be left on a higher rate otherwise.

Making the most of discounts

Energy suppliers offer discounts to customers who choose them for both their gas and electricity needs. You should therefore consider a dual fuel tariff, but you should also check the price of single fuel tariffs from separate companies for gas and electricity. If the dual fuel option is more expensive, you may want to consider whether the extra cost is worthwhile for the convenience of having one bill and one payment.

Discounts are also available to those who pay by monthly direct debit, which is why MoneySupermarket recommends that all households pay their bills this way.

Choosing to manage your account online is another way to cut your costs that will also make your life easier if you plan to keep an eye on an elderly relative’s supply, for example.

Understanding the process

Once you have set an energy switch in motion, you will have to provide meter readings to pay off and close the old account. You should not, however, have to change your meter to change suppliers.

In fact, switching should not involve any work being carried out at your home or in the street.

And as the supply is constant, you should not notice any real difference as a result – apart of course from the lower bills you receive.

Not if but when…

The next round of energy price increases is expected any time now – it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when.

Centrica, which owns British Gas, issued a warning that its prices would be going up in June. Other companies will be sure to follow with their own price hikes once Centrica has made its move.

We could even see one of other ‘big six’ suppliers raise its prices before Centrica – there is speculation that an increase could come as early as Friday this week, making switching even more of a priority.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct

* Up to 10% can save at least £244.64, MoneySupermarket data based on sales. June 2013