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With winter bearing down on us, it’s a good time to find a cheaper energy deal

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Gas and electricity usage leaps at this time of year, so you need to know you’re on a cheap energy tariff that will keep a lid on your costs.

When was the last time you switched?

Millions of British households are on a standard variable rate tariff (SVT), and many of them have been with their supplier for years.

That’s not good, because SVTs are a long way from being the cheapest deals on the market.

The average of the Big Six energy firms’ SVTs is £1,128. But we’ve got offers - including fixed rate tariffs from some Big Sixers - that are around £9001.

That means millions of families are paying over £200 more than they need to for their gas and electricity.

So if you haven’t switched for several years, or if you’ve never switched, it’s well worth running an energy quote to see if there’s a cheaper deal available.

With a fixed rate tariff, the amount you pay for each unit of energy you use is locked in for 12, 18, 24 or 36 months - you choose the duration of the fix.

This means you’re protected from price hikes for that period - although you wouldn’t benefit from any price falls.

But given that the leading fixed rate tariffs cost well below most SVTs, and given also that the wholesale price of energy is increasing at the moment, fixed rates look the better option.

Switching is a breeze

Worried about switching? Here’s the good news…

  • You WON’T need new pipes/wires

When you switch energy, there’s no need for any work to be done, inside or outside your property. No-one will even need to visit your home.

You’ll use the same pipes and wires and energy meters. All the work is done behind the scenes by your new energy provider.

The only thing you’ll need to do is provide meter readings so you can settle up with your old provider and start paying your new one.

  • There WON’T be any interruption to supply

You won’t have your power turned off when the switch takes place, even for a second.

Your present supplier will provide you with power until the day of the switch, when your new provider will take over. It’s a seamless operation, and you won’t even notice it’s happened.

  • It WON’T takes ages to do it

You can run a quote on our site in minutes, and sign up for a new deal in a few minutes more2.

Your new provider will then contact you to confirm the switch is going ahead. At this point, you start a 14-day cooling-off period during which you are free to cancel the switch at no cost.

Once the cooling-off period ends, the switch itself should be completed within a week, so the whole process will take around 21 days.

  • It WILL be worthwhile

If you’ve never switched energy suppliers, then you’ll probably be on your supplier’s most expensive standard tariff.

Research by MoneySuperMarket found that moving from the traditional energy supplier in your area could save you over £200 a year if you use an average amount of energy over the course of the year.

All you need to start the switching process is the name of your current energy tariff, how much you spent on energy in the last year and how you pay for your energy.

How to switch

You can find all information you need to run a quote on your latest energy bill or annual statement.

But if you don’t have a bill to hand, don’t worry. We can provide you with a realistic estimate just using basic information such as your postcode, type of property, how many people live there, and when the house is usually occupied.

Before switching, find out if you owe your existing provider any money. If you do, you’ll usually have to pay this off before you can switch to a new supplier.

You should also check whether there are any early exit fees which apply when you leave your current deal - fixed rate tariffs sometimes impose them.

If there are, you can either wait until around six weeks before your tariff is due to end, when they can no longer be levied, or you can decide to pay them knowing you’re going to save a larger amount on your new deal.

Compare tariffs

As we’ve noted, fixed rate tariffs tend to be the cheapest on the market.

These will often be ‘dual fuel’ deals, where you get both your gas and electricity from the same supplier. But it’s worth checking single, separate tariffs for gas and electricity as the combined price might be less than a dual fuel offer.

There’s usually a discount if you sign up to pay your bills by direct debit rather than cheque, and if you manage your account online, with no paper communications.

If you’re renting

If you pay your energy bills, rather than your landlord, and your name is on the bill then you are free to move suppliers, but it’s usually a good idea to let your landlord know that you plan to do this.

 

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.

1Based on dual fuel, monthly direct debit and Ofgem average usage of 12500kwh Gas and 3100kwh Electricity averaged across all regions.

2Average journey time 5.2 minutes, MoneySuperMarket data, May 2015

 

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