Quarterly direct debit
Instead of paying every month for gas and electricity, some people prefer to pay their bills every three months by direct debit.
The amount you have used is automatically taken from your bank account, so you don't have to worry about remembering to pay by cheque or at the Post Office.
Pros and cons of paying by quarterly direct debitSome suppliers offer a discount if you pay your bills by quarterly direct debit.
Paying quarterly also means that you don't have to worry about money being taken from your account every month, and you can save up for the payments to come out every three months.
Most suppliers give you a couple days to check your bill and then another few days before payment is taken, to give you time to ensure the necessary funds are in place.
However, one of the disadvantages of paying quarterly is that rather than paying a smaller amount each month, you have to find a much bigger lump sum each time as you are paying for three months' gas and electricity usage at a time.
Another disadvantage is that, rather than paying a set amount each month, you have to pay the full amount of the balance on the account each time.
So, in the winter months, your bills are likely to be much more expensive than during the summer, so you will need to budget accordingly.
What else you need to knowYou can choose to stop your direct debit whenever you want, but you must ensure an alternative payment method is in place so that your bills get paid on time.
If you switch your bank account, then usually the bank of building society you are moving to will arrange the transfer of all your direct debits and standing orders on your behalf, but you may want to check with your supplier that this has all been set up once you have made the move.
What if I cannot afford the payment?
During the winter months your bill can be much higher as the heating tends to be on for longer, so make sure you have enough in your bank account on the date the payment is due to leave to avoid any unnecessary bank charges.
If you do opt to pay quarterly and suddenly find you aren't able to make your payment, then you should contact your energy company as soon as possible and let them know you are having difficulty paying. You may be able to negotiate a manageable repayment plan with them, or switch to a different payment method to ensure you don't fall behind with payments again.
If you are struggling to cover the cost of your energy bills, make sure you aren't paying more than you need to for your gas and electricity.
You can compare tariffs online through MoneySupermarket's energy channel to find the best deals, and if you find a cheaper quote and aren't locked into your current tariff, you should switch as soon as possible.