But before things get too cold (and costly), check whether you’re paying too much on your energy bills.
Energy is getting more expensive
Energy suppliers often raise their prices just in time for the coldest, darkest, most expensive time of year. British Gas recently became the latest company to do just that - they’re increasing their electricity prices by 12.5% for more than three million customers on standard variable tariffs, with effect from September 15.
The average customer on a combined gas and electricity tariff will have to pay £76 more – hiking the average bill up to £1,120 a year. The other Big Six suppliers have already raised their prices earlier in the year.
Could you save by switching?
Even if you’re not with the Big Six, it’s time to consider switching to a cheaper deal. You could be one of the 60% of people in the UK on a standard variable rate (SVR), which means you might be paying far more than you need to on your gas and electricity bills.
The average SVR costs around £1,100 a year, whereas as some fixed deals cost less than £900 a year, so if you switched to a new tariff, you could be looking at saving hundreds of pounds a year.
Switch now, before the winter weather and freezing temperatures set in, and you could be better off when you turn on the heating.
How do I compare energy deals?
It’s not as complicated as you might think to compare energy deals. Start by telling us your postcode, which supplier you’re currently with, what tariff you’re on, and how much energy you use.
You should be able to find this information on your latest bill, but don’t worry if you can’t find it. We’ll estimate your energy usage based on what you tell us about the type of house you live in, how many rooms it has, and how many people live there.
You’ll see a list of tariffs, and you can click to get more information to help you decide.
How can I get a cheaper quote?
You can usually get a better deal if you opt to manage your account online and pay by monthly direct debit. Fixed-rate tariffs tend to be cheaper than variable deals, and you could save money if you get both gas and electricity from the same supplier, known as a dual fuel deal. But, don’t forget to run quotes for single tariffs as well, as this might sometimes be the cheaper option.
If you’re currently on a fixed tariff, you might have to pay a penalty fee if you switch before the fixed period ends. These fees can be as high as £30 per fuel, so if you switch both gas and electricity before the contract expires, you could have to pay £60 in exit fees. Don’t forget to factor this cost in when you’re weighing up your options.
However, your supplier has to inform you that your fixed deal is coming to an end between 42 and 49 days before the contract expires. During this notice period, you can switch to a new deal with another supplier without having to pay any penalty fees.
When you’ve chosen a new tariff, just fill in a few more details and your new supplier will confirm the information about your new deal. Your switch shouldn’t take more than 21 days. But, if you change your mind, you can cancel your switch during the 14-day cooling off period.
There’s no need to worry about any interruption to your energy supply when you switch, as there won’t be any work done inside or outside your home. Your new supplier will sort things out with your old one, so you don’t have to do anything.
Your new supplier will also let you know the transfer date, and will ask for meter readings. It’s important to give accurate readings, because they allow your old supplier to calculate your final bill, and help your new supplier to work out your first bill. This helps make sure you don’t get charged twice for the energy you use.
Your old supplier should send your final bill within six weeks of the switch. If they owe you money, you should get a refund within 14 days of the date of the final bill.
What if I’ve got a prepayment meter?
It’s still possible to switch to a new tariff if you have a prepayment meter. You could switch to another prepayment deal, or you might want to consider switching to a credit meter. To do this, however, you’ll have to pass a credit check with the potential new supplier, and you may have to pay for the installation of a new meter in your home.
Switching to a new energy deal doesn’t have to be a hassle, and with the expensive Christmas season fast approaching, now is a good time to shop around. Run a quote and see how much money you could save.