Compare Energy Prices
Given the sky-high cost of heating and powering a home these days, it makes sense to compare energy prices online to identify the best deal for your needs - and switch supplier if necessary.
It's a quick and straightforward process at MoneySuperMarket's comparison tool. You enter details of where you live, the type of property you live in, and the amount of energy you typically consume.
Single or dual fuel tariff?
Most of us use gas and electricity. If you opt to take both types of fuel from a single provider, you will probably receive a 'dual fuel' discount. In other words, they'll charge you less than they would if they charged you for gas and electricity separately.
But that doesn't necessarily mean a dual fuel deal will be the cheapest. You might be able to get single fuel tariffs from different suppliers that, when added together, cost less than the cheapest dual fuel deal.
That's why it's important to shop around and run a number of quotations. The time you invest - and it is still only a matter of minutes - will be repaid in lower energy bills.
How you pay
Monthly direct debit will be the cheapest option as gas and electricity providers offer discounts to customers who pay in this way. However, millions of people still pay for their energy quarterly by cheque or cash, which can cost them between 6% and 10% a year more.
If you are on a pre-payment meter, monthly direct debit won't be an option.
Look at the small print of what you are signing up for. Fixed and capped deals will give you comfort that you are not paying above a set amount for a period of time, but the sting in the tail is that if you want to leave before the end of the deal, you might have to pay a cancellation or exit fee. This could wipe out much of the saving you stand to make by switching to another deal.
Some contracts also have tie-in periods, where even though your deal might have come to an end, you are contracted to stay with the same energy supplier on their standard tariff, and again you will pay a penalty if you leave it.
Not all fixed-term contracts include an exit fee, so you can opt for one of these if you prefer, although it might not be the absolute cheapest deal on offer.
Fixed rate deals are popular as they guarantee that you will be protected from further price increases for a set period of time. However, if prices fall during the period - which is possible but, we think, unlikely - you would not see any benefit.
If you think energy prices are likely to go down, then a variable rate tariff will allow you to benefit, but if you are wrong and prices rise, then you will be hit with higher bills.
It sounds unimportant, but there are plenty of people who are prepared to pay a little extra to get better customer service. While everything is working fine and you have no problem with your energy supplier, it is largely irrelevant.
But when something goes wrong and you need some help to resolve an issue, good customer service is key. You can ask friends or check forums to find out which energy suppliers have the best customer service.
Online energy services are those run over the internet, so you will be expected to manage your account online and won't receive bills through the post.
Because the costs of running customer accounts are lower, online tariffs are usually cheaper than standard tariffs so if you are comfortable using the internet, this type of deal is well worth investigating.
What's more, you can submit meter readings online at any time, making it simple to keep track of your usage and ensure you are being accurately billed.
There should be no difficulty in switching from your current energy supplier to a new one.
Once the application has been made online via MoneySuperMarket, your switch will be completed soon after.
Traditionally, it takes between four and six weeks to switch, but energy suppliers are now moving towards a 17-day switch, including a 14-day cooling-off period, should you change your mind.
You do not even need to speak to your existing supplier. All you'll have to do is send your new supplier a meter reading.
Your energy supply will not be interrupted, and there'll be no need for work to be carried out at your home or in the street outside. You will simply see a new name on your bill, and lower costs.
*51% consumers, MoneySuperMarket data, December 2014