Gas and electricity products explained
Aside from your rent or mortgage, your energy bills are likely to be one of your biggest monthly outgoings.
That's why it's so important to make sure you are on the right energy deal so you're not paying over the odds.
Here's our guide to the various options, so you can decide which one is likely to be best for you.
Fixed price tariffs
A good way to keep control of how much you pay for your energy is to choose a fixed-price energy deal.
A fixed tariff means that the gas or electricity unit price won't change for a set period of time. This type of tariff can cost you a bit more than standard tariffs initially, but over the long term they often work out to be more cost-effective.
However, be aware that you could be at a disadvantage if energy prices fall. And if you decide to leave before the time period is up, you are likely to have to pay a penalty fee.
A dual fuel deal is when you receive both your gas and electricity from the same provider.
tariffs make it easier to keep track of your outgoings and are usually competitively priced, with many providers offering a discount if you get both fuels from them.
That said, it might work out cheaper if you get your gas and your electricity from different suppliers. That's why we recommend that you compare dual fuel and single fuel tariffs to see which offers the better price.
Standard variable tariff
A standard variable tariff (SVT) is your energy supplier's default tariff. Most energy suppliers have a SVT and they are defined as a supplier's most 'basic offer' by the energy regulator Ofgem.
SVT's are often the most expensive tariffs on the market, yet around 60% of the UK are on tariffs of this variety. There is no charge to switch from your SVT, whether it's to a new provider or onto a different tariff with your current supplier.
With a prepayment meter, you pay for your energy in advance, effectively on a pay-as-you-go basis. You load money onto your meter using a card or key. You can usually add credit to your card or key at Post Offices or PayPoint stores. Some newer tariffs, such as OVO's Smart PAYG+, also allow you to top up via the provider's app.
A meter could be right for you if you want to keep track of exactly what you are spending and want to avoid any nasty bill shocks.
On the downside, it can seem as though meters are eating up your money and you need be organised to make sure don't run out of credit.
Economy 7 tariffs usually cost less than other tariffs because you must commit to using most of your energy during 'off-peak' during the night-time.
This is usually a seven-hour period, hence the name of the tariff. Economy 7 discount times are generally 1am to 8am during winter, and 2am to 9am in summer.
This type of tariff is likely to suit you if you have storage heaters and a hot water tank which can be heated up at night and then used to provide hot water and heating the following day.
If you don't have an Economy 7 meter already, you'll need to have one installed. There may be a charge for this.
Many energy companies now offer you the option of a green or environmentally-friendly tariff.
Generally there will be two options. The first is a guarantee that for every unit of electricity you use, an equal quantity of green energy will be produced by your provider. The second is an agreement that the extra you pay on your bill will be put towards renewable energy projects.
Green tariffs can cost more than standard tariffs, but will give you peace of mind that you're doing your bit to reduce your carbon footprint.
Find the best deal
If you use MoneySuperMarket's comparison service, you'll be presented with a list of competitive tariffs from which to choose.
Can I compare energy prices if I am on a prepayment meter?
If you use a prepayment meter, you can still compare energy prices and potentially switch to another cheaper prepayment deal.
If you are on a prepayment meter, you could switch to a fixed-rate deal and save.
You can compare your current prepayment tariff to alternative tariff options using our energy comparison tool.