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Compare Gas Prices
Gas prices are on the rise, with the average gas bill going up by more than 17% with the latest round of price increases from the biggest providers. So if you want to make sure you are getting the cheapest deal on your gas supply, then you need to compare gas suppliers to get the best deal for you.
You need to know how much you are paying at present with your existing gas supplier, otherwise you will not be able to see which other gas suppliers have a better deal available.
Around two in five of us do not know what we are paying with our current gas supplier, so without finding this out, you will not be able to tell if you are getting a better deal.
You can look at your gas bill and check what you used in the last quarter, or look at how much you used in each of the last four quarters and then use that as a basis for doing your gas comparison, so you know whether you are getting a cheaper deal when you get the quotes.
If you can't find that information, check how much you pay for your gas currently, either monthly if you pay by direct debit or look how much your bill was for the last quarter if you are still paying for gas in that way.
What factors should I consider when switching my gas supplier?
There are a large number of things you need to consider when you are looking at different gas suppliers. Finding the cheapest tariff is the main thing, but it's not the only consideration.
Other things to take into account are:
Method of payment
There are benefits to be had if you pay for your gas by monthly direct debit, as many companies will give you a reduction on your annual gas bill.
The traditional way of paying is quarterly by cash or cheque and millions of people still pay for their energy in this way although it isn't the cheapest option.
Monthly direct debit is the most cost effective way to pay for your gas as most energy firms will give you a reduction on your annual bill. The reason why they are able to discount for this method of payment is that they know they will get money from you every month, as opposed to only four times a year.
Some people will be on a prepayment meter which means direct debit isn't an option - they just top up as and when they need to.
Depending on the type of tariff you get, whether it is a fixed tariff, capped tariff or any other type of tariff you choose to get when you do a comparison online, you need to look carefully at the contract you are signing.
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 will have to pay a cancellation fee. This could potentially negate the savings you could 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 gas supplier on their standard tariff, and again you will pay a penalty if you leave it.
Fixed or variable rate tariffs
If you need to be sure your gas prices are set in stone for a period of time, you need to go for a fixed tariff. You will not benefit from any price falls, but you know the price will not be hiked.
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.
Some gas suppliers will have additional benefits to just being a cheaper deal, such as Tesco Clubcard or Nectar points, for example. In some cases, you may also get free Home Cover to help you if your boiler or your heating goes wrong, which is a godsend mid-winter when you have someone come round to fix things the same day.
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 gas 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 gas suppliers have the best customer service.
Online gas services are those run over the internet, so you will have less access to a call centre than you would if you used a traditional provider.
You will not get paper bills, they will be delivered online, and you will also be asked to provide your meter readings online too so your bills are more accurate. All of these measures go to reduce the overheads of the company, which means you should get a cheaper deal for your gas.
There should be no difficulty in transferring away from your gas supplier to a new one, and more people than ever are making the switch. The MoneySupermarket energy comparison tool saw a whopping 1,264% rise in the number of people swapping tariffs in a single day in June 2011.
Once the application has been made online for the cheapest gas supplier, you will have to wait just four to six weeks for the switch to be completed. You do not even need to speak to your existing supplier.
Your gas supply will not be interrupted, and you will simply see a new name on your bill, and lower costs.
How to reduce your gas consumption
Of course, switching gas suppliers is not the only way to reduce your bills. Making sure your loft is properly insulated and you have made your property as draught-proof as you can will keep more heat in, which will reduce your costs.
Also, if you are prepared to turn your heating down by a single degree and put another jumper on instead if you are cold, can save as much as 10% off your gas bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
It also recommends that you set your thermostat for your hot water at 60 degrees Celsius, which will prevent your boiler from trying to keep your hot water at too high a temperature.
You should also make sure you are only paying for the gas you are using. Gas suppliers will estimate your bill based on what they think you are using, so make sure you read your gas meter regularly and send the information to your gas supplier so you are only paying for what you are using.