With a standard tariff, also known as standard variable rate tariffs, the price you pay for your gas (per unit) can go up and down as the supplier changes its prices.
This is great when prices are generally falling, but not when signs point to gas prices going the other way. As of summer 2016, wholesale prices were starting to tick upwards.
We also had the ‘Brexit’ vote to leave the European Union which may have indirectly affected prices as the changing value of the pound affected our buying power for imported energy. And standard tariffs are often the most expensive way to pay for your gas.
Fix your prices
Fixed price tariffs tend to be cheaper and allow you to lock down the price you pay for your gas (per unit) for a set amount of time – usually one or two years. It means that even if gas prices generally go up during that time, the price you pay will remain fixed. The downside is that if prices generally fall, and end up lower that the price you fixed at, you’ll lose out. Of course you can leave your fixed deal, but often you’ll have to pay a penalty of around £30 per fuel.
Many suppliers will offer you a discount on your bills if you buy both gas and electricity from them. But be aware that even with the discount, you might still be able to get a better deal when buying your gas and electricity separately. Suppliers like Zog Energy and Daligas are gas-only suppliers and may be able to save you money. Remember, just because they’re not quite household names, it doesn’t mean the quality of the gas will be any different to that of, say, British Gas.
Paying for your gas by monthly direct debit, if you can, is almost always going to be cheaper than paying by cash or cheque. Knowing how much you need to pay each month can help with budgeting and make bigger winter bills easier to manage by building up a surplus in the summer when you use less gas.
Some suppliers will offer you a discount on your gas if you choose to manage your account online rather than receiving paper bills by post. If you’re happy to do this then it’s another good way to save.
You can compare gas prices and switch to a new supplier in 21 days, with no interruption to your supply or structural work to your gas pipes. The whole switch is sorted out between your old supplier and the new one, and the only thing you’ll have to do is submit a meter reading.
Cut your costs
Switching suppliers and/or tariffs is the easiest and most significant way to cut your gas bills, but there are other, everyday changes you can make to improve your home’s energy efficiency. For example, turning your thermostat down by just one degree can save you around 10% on your annual bills. Loft insulation could cut your energy bills by around £150 a year, while insulating your hot water tank could shave off another £45 and checking your doors and windows for draughts could clip off a further £55.
READ: Energy saving tips