It’s time to switch your energy provider

Energy suppliers are often the focus of customer criticism because of what seems like a never-ending series of price hikes and the complicated nature of their tariffs. But there are signs they could be making changes to win back consumer confidence.

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While some have taken steps to streamline their tariffs, others are offering lengthy fixed-price tariffs to customers who switch before the winter sets in, so let’s see how some energy companies are trying to win back our custom by taking a look at the latest offerings.

Scottish Power

Although not normally known for its competitive pricing policy, Scottish Power’s latest product will certainly put pressure on EDF Energy, who raised the bar with its ‘Blue + Price Promise’ tariff.

The Online Fixed Price Energy November 2013 tariff fixes energy prices until October 31, 2013 and comes with no standing charges, so customers only pay for the energy they use.

The real deal-maker, though, is that the tariff comes with no early termination fees, which means that customers have nothing to lose: if prices rise then they’re protected until October 31, 2013, and if prices fall then they are free to switch without falling foul of a termination fee.

And, based upon average usage, existing customers could make a saving of almost £300 if they switch from Scottish Power’s Standard tariff to the fixed tariff.

It’s also worth noting that, from November 1, 2013, customers will be moved onto Scottish Power’s more expensive Standard plan and so should begin to shop around for a better deal a month or so before the deal ends.

British Gas

British Gas recently did its part to simplify energy tariffs with the launch of four new products which, while they do offer a more transparent pricing system, are only on offer to new customers and are still more expensive than similar offerings from EDF Energy.

However, the fact they cannot apply for the new deals may not be such a bad thing for existing British Gas customers as the new Fixed Price May 2014 tariff actually works out at £59.13 more expensive than the standard, when based on average household usage.

EDF Energy

EDF Energy has shifted the energy industry goalposts with the launch of the Blue+ Price Promise tariff, which not only locks prices in until September 2013 but also came with no minimum contract, no cancellation fee and alerts customers if another supplier offers a tariff that is more than £1 per week cheaper.

Average-use customers who take this tariff as opposed to EDF Energy’s Standard tariff could save themselves £147.84 over the course of the year.

E.ON

E.ON has not streamlined its tariffs so it’s easy to get confused with what’s on offer as customers have to look at fixed, variable and green energy plans.

However, by simply switching from the standard tariff to the Fixed Price Saver June 2013, customers could save themselves £97.96, based upon average usage.

Npower

At an annual cost of £1,243.48, npower has the second most expensive average standard tariff on the market but, by switching from this to the Go Fix 12 tariff that, slightly confusingly, fixes prices until August 2013, customers could save £92.80 per year.

SSE

SSE has narrowed its range down to just four products, the most cost effective of which appears to be the Fixed Discount April 2014 which can save customers £87 per year against the standard tariff.

The savings at a glance

This recent MoneySupermarket comparison of standard versus online and fixed tariffs illustrates just how much the average customer could save by simply switching their tariff, even if they want to stay with their current provider.

 Provider

 Avg Standard Tariff

 Avg Online/Best Tariff

 Fixed Tariff

Avg Saving Fixed v Standard

 British Gas

 £1,240.07

£1,120.29
Online Variable Aug 2013

£1,299.10
Fixed Price May 2014

 -£59.03

 EDF Energy

 £1,202.38

 N/A

£1,054.54
Blue + Price Promise Sep 2013

 £147.84

 E.ON

 £1,222.65

£1,113.43
SaveOnline v12

£1,124.89
Fixed Price Saver Jun 2013

 £97.76

 npower

 £1,243.48

£1,063.68
Energy Online Oct 2013

£1,150.68
Go Fix 12

 £92.80

 Scottish Power

 £1,349.42

£1,055.18
Online Energy Saver 19

£1,051.87
Online Fixed Price Energy (Nov 2013)

 £297.55

 SSE

 £1,237.85

 N/A

£1,150.85
Fixed Discount Apr 2014

 £87.00

 First Utility

 

£1,127.92
iSave v11

 N/A

 

 OVO Energy

 

 

£1,059.01
New Energy Fixed (excl.Scot Hydro region)

 

 Average

 £1,249.31

 £1,096.10

 £1,110.42

 £110.65

Sourced by www.moneysupermarket.com and correct as of 17.07.2012.

Switching to a better deal

Although savings can be made by simply switching onto a more competitively priced tariff with the existing provider, it often makes sense for consumers to switch company to ensure they get the best deal on the market. But when is the best time to make the move?

Anyone on a fixed rate deal that is due to expire should start shopping around in plenty of time to tie up their next energy deal. Given the number of new deals on offer and the current level of competition within the energy market, now could be a great time to switch.

However, it usually takes around four to six weeks to change provider, so it’s important to begin the process in plenty of time. That said, customers need to be aware of terminations fees, which can be around £30 per fuel type – these will be levied if you switch before the current deal comes to an end.

It is hoped that the whole switching process could soon be a lot quicker as Ofgem, the UK energy regulator, has launched a consultation to ensure that switching takes no longer than three weeks, in line with European Union guidelines.

In any event, MoneySupermarket is here to help. You can see what’s on offer in the energy market by using MoneySupermarket’s price-comparison tool, which instantly compares prices from every UK energy supplier to find the cheapest tariffs on the market. We also offer all the advice you need to make the switch.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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