What type of electricity tariffs are there?
There are a number of electricity tariffs that you can choose from when you decide to upgrade to a better deal:
A fixed price electricity tariff guarantees that you pay a set amount per unit of electricity you consume. This doesn’t mean your bill will be the same each month, just the cost of electricity – your bill will depend on how much electricity you actually use each month.
The main advantage to fixed electricity tariffs is that you’ll be protected against any price hikes, but on the flip side if energy prices drop you won’t benefit from the cheaper electricity cost. You’ll generally need to sign a contract with your provider for these tariffs, and there will likely be exit fees involved if you want to leave early.
A variable electricity tariff, sometimes known as a standard variable tariff, is the most popular type of electricity tariff. They’re the default option that most suppliers offer and what you’re automatically switched over to when your existing tariff runs out.
While the unit cost of electricity could change depending on the energy market, you won’t need to sign a contract and there are usually no early exit fees.
When you’re on a dual fuel tariff you’ll get both electricity and gas from a single supplier. They can be a convenient option as you’ll only need to use one point of contact to manage all your energy.
Dual fuel tariffs can be either fixed or variable, and suppliers may offer discounts if you choose to get both electricity and gas from them.
Green energy tariffs give you the peace of mind that at least some of your energy comes from green, or renewable, sources – for example solar power, hydropower, or wind power. Green energy tariffs typically offer 100% green electricity but currently only around 10% green gas.
These tariffs can also be either fixed or variable, and in recent times they’ve started to become cheaper than non-green tariffs.
If you have solar panels on your property you might be able to benefit from a feed-in tariff. Suppliers that offer feed-in tariffs will pay you for the electricity generated by your solar panels.
You may also be able to find feed-in tariffs for other forms of renewable energy.
Prepaid or prepayment tariffs let you pay in advance for your electricity. They work by you ‘topping up’ your meter, normally using a card, key, or token – though some may also let you top up online. They can be a good way to manage the amount of energy you use, however the price you’ll pay per unit is generally more expensive than other tariffs.
Economy 7 tariffs are similar to standard variable tariffs, however they usually offer different unit prices depending on whether it’s day or night – and it’s generally cheaper during night hours. Just as with standard variable tariffs the price per unit can go up or down depending on the market rate, and there are normally no early exit fees or contracts to sign.
Are electricity prices rising or falling?
Ofgem announced an energy price cap in November 2018, which came into effect the following January which was expected to reduce energy bills for over 11 million customers. However the price cap is set to be reviewed twice a year until 2020, and the most recent review led to the cap going up by 10%.
While it’s hard to say in what direction electricity prices will move in the future, especially with events like Brexit on the horizon, switching suppliers could be more important than ever. It’s the easiest way to find the cheapest available tariff every year, so you can make sure you don’t pay too much for electricity.
What’s the difference between small suppliers and the Big Six?
Around 90% of energy used in the UK comes from the ‘Big Six’, the biggest energy suppliers in the UK. The ‘Big Six’ list includes:
- British Gas
- EDF Energy
- Scottish Power
However in the last five or so years there’ve been an increasing number of smaller providers, such as First Utility, Octopus Energy, and Ecotricity.
They may not be as well-known as the ‘Big Six’ companies, however they do offer certain advantages:
- Some smaller suppliers specialise in green electricity
- Many also come out on top for customer service, compared to the ‘Big Six’
- You may be able to find a cheaper deal when you switch over
Are there any schemes that can help with my electricity costs?
There is a government scheme called the Warm Home Discount, which can get you a £140 discount on your electricity bill. This is a one-off payment that is taken straight off your bill between September and March – rather than being paid into your account. Read more about the Warm Home Discount with our guide.
How can I reduce my electricity bill?
There are a number of small changes you can make at home to cut your electricity bill down:
- Turning off standby appliances
- Buying efficient appliances
- Use energy saving lightbulbs
- Install a smart meter
- Insulate your home
For more advice on cutting your energy bills read our guide on energy saving tips.
How do I compare business electricity quotes?
Finding an energy tariff for your business is slightly different to domestic energy. You can request a call back from our energy experts, or call them yourself on 0800 088 6986, and discuss your requirements so you can find the right business energy deal for you.
Do I need my own electricity tariff if I’m a tenant?
If your bills are included in your rent, or if your landlord rebills you for electricity costs, then it’ll be up to them to arrange your electricity supply. You can always ask them to switch if you have a preference, or you could ask to arrange it yourself.
How do I get a smart meter?
Whether you’ll be able to get a smart meter will depend on your provider and when they plan to roll them out in your area – they may be available already. It’s best to contact them directly to make an enquiry.
Learn more about smart meters and how they work with our guide.
Switch electricity suppliers
Switching energy suppliers is quick and easy thanks to the energy switch guarantee. The whole process is taken care of by your new provider, and you won’t be without energy at any point. If there are any issues, your provider will try to resolve them as soon as possible, and you should be fully switched over in twenty-one days.
Comparing energy tariffs with MoneySuperMarket is the easiest way to switch suppliers and find a better deal. All you need to do is tell us a little about yourself, your home, and your approximate energy usage – the more accurate you can be, the more accurate your bills will be.
We’ll show you a list of quotes from the ‘Big Six’ providers as well as smaller providers, and once you find the deal you want just click through to the provider to finalise your switch.