Switch to a cheaper energy deal before winter sets in

As summer draws to a close and the weather starts to get colder, many of us will soon be putting the heating on. It’s a good time to check whether you’re getting the best deal on your energy bills, before temperatures plummet too far.

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Price rises

It’s not uncommon for suppliers to raise their prices in time for the season when demand is high, and British Gas have recently done just that. They announced a 12.5% increase in electricity prices for more than three million customers on standard variable tariffs.

The increase will come into effect on September 15, and the average price for a combined gas and electricity bill is set to jump by £76 to £1,120 a year. The energy giant is the last of the Big Six suppliers to increase prices this year.

Time to switch

If you’re a British Gas customer, it’s time to think about switching to a new supplier, before the price rise in September. But you could still benefit from a switch, even if you’re not with British Gas. If you’re one of the 60% of people in the UK on a standard variable rate (SVR), you’re likely to be paying over the odds for your energy.

The average SVR is around £1,100 a year, whereas as some of the cheapest fixed deals are less than £900, so you could potentially save hundreds of pounds a year by switching to a cheaper tariff.

By switching now, before winter sets in, you’ll benefit from savings when the colder weather comes and you turn on the heating.

How to compare energy deals

It’s easier than you might think to compare energy deals. The first step to saving money is to find the best tariff for your household. We’ll need your postcode and ideally the details of your current supplier, tariff and energy consumption.

You should find all the information on your latest bill, but don’t worry if you haven’t got it to hand. We can estimate your energy usage based on your house type, number of rooms and the size of your family.

Within seconds, you’ll get a table of results, with the cheapest tariff at the top. You can click on any tariff to find out more information to help you make your final selection.

How to get the cheapest deal

You can usually get a better deal if you opt to manage your account online and pay by monthly direct debit. Fixed-rate tariffs are often cheaper than variable deals, and you can also typically save money if you choose a dual fuel deal, where you get both gas and electricity from the same supplier. But, it‘s worth running quotes for single tariffs, as this can sometimes be the cheaper option.

If you’re currently on a fixed tariff, you might have to pay a fee if you switch before the fixed period ends. Termination or exit fees can be as high as £30 per fuel. So, if you switch both gas and electricity before the contract expires, you could end up with exit fees of £60.

But, suppliers must notify customers that their fixed deal is coming to an end between 42 and 49 days before the contract expires. You can then switch within this notice period without incurring a penalty fee.

When you’ve chosen a new tariff, you simply fill in a few more details and the new supplier will confirm the information about your new deal. The switch should take no more than 21 days from the day your new supplier receives your completed application. But if you decide not to go ahead with the switch, you can cancel at any time within the first 14 days – this is known as the cooling-off period.  

There should be no interruption to your energy supply during the switching process. There won’t be any work inside or outside your property, and the new supplier will sort things out with your old one, so you don’t have to do anything.

The new supplier will also let you know the transfer date, and will ask for meter readings. Accurate readings are important because they allow your old supplier to calculate your final bill, and help your new supplier to work out your first bill. This makes sure you only pay once for the energy you use.  

You should receive a final bill from your old supplier within six weeks of the switch and, if your old supplier owes you money, you should get a refund within 14 days of the date of the final bill.

Can I switch if I have a prepayment meter?

If you have a prepayment meter, you can still switch tariffs. You can either switch from one prepayment deal to another. Or, you could consider switching from a prepayment meter to a credit meter. However, you would first have to pass the supplier’s credit check. Plus, a new meter would have to be installed in your home. Some suppliers also charge for meter installation.

The sooner you switch to a cheaper energy tariff, the sooner you’ll start saving money – it’s that simple. Run a quote and see how much you could cut off your energy bills.

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