Most of us have probably reached for the thermostat in the past couple of weeks and, if you pay your energy bill quarterly by cash or cheque, the dreaded envelope could soon be landing on your doormat.
Despite negligible price cuts by the Big Six energy companies last month, there is still money to be saved. In fact, MoneySupermarket research found that households are collectively wasting £3.5billion by not switching to better deals.
Winter is a long way from over, so here's why switching energy providers could still save you money.
Almost everyone can save
If you've lived in your home for a number of years and never switched energy provider, there's a strong chance you're not on the most competitive tariff.
If you've recently moved into your current home, you may have simply 'inherited' your energy providers. This might have been OK for the previous occupants but you should switch to get the best deal for you.
comparison service to find the cheapest supplier or suppliers (if getting gas from one firm and electricity from another is the cheaper option) and make sure you get your direct debit and online account management discounts.
If you've not changed your supplier since the industry was privatised, you may still be paying standard prices. Switching to a more competitive tariff, along with paying by direct debit and managing your bills online, could save you money.
If you were lucky enough to have fixed your energy deal before the Big Six put their prices up in 2011, switching probably isn't a good idea for you. The rate you fixed at is likely to be giving you a better deal.
When the fixed period comes to an end, however, be sure to compare gas and electricity tariffs to get the best deal.
If you're thinking about fixing your current deal following the price drops in January, hold off for now. It's possible, though not very likely, that prices could drop further - so you don't want to find yourself locked into a fixed deal should that happen.
Why you should switch now
At the time of writing, the Met Office is predicting that cold weather will continue throughout February and into early March.
The price cuts in January were attributed to the unseasonably mild winter we'd had until then, so a return to sub-zero temperatures could push up energy demand and prices - making it more important to make sure you're getting the best price. One supplier, British Gas, has pledged not to increase its prices to consumers this winter, regardless of what happens in the wholesale gas supply markets.
Switching your gas and electricity provider is simple and doesn't involve any physical changes to your property. This means no new pipes or meters and no 'down-time' while the switching process takes place. Find out more in our video
'All you need to know about energy deals'.
All you have to do is sign-on with the new provider, which will then take care of the switching process on your behalf. To prepare, you simply have to take a meter reading on the day you switch, just in case you disagree with your final bill from the old supplier.
Other ways to save
If you want to lower your energy bills as much as possible, you needn't stop at switching your suppliers.
Draught-proofing your doors and windows can save you £20 a year on your energy bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Washing your clothes at 30 degrees rather than 40 and making sure you turn off appliances at the socket can save you a further £40 a year, and switching your old light bulbs to energy efficient ones can save you £37 a year.
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
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