Firstly, for those new to UK, you need to know that there are a number of different electricity and gas providers in the UK, so you are not tied to just one option. N-Power, EDF Energy, E-ON, British Gas, Scottish Power are the largest energy providers in the United Kingdom. In fact, each of these providers offers a couple of different packages, so there are many options to choose from.
People in the UK saw their energy prices increase year after year and just recently Scottish Power put their prices up by 19% (!) for gas and 10% (!) for electricity putting the average bill for duel fuel to £1,320 per year. It will not be long until other providers will follow this and will increase their prices as well, so you need to do something NOW to minimise the impact of this increase as much as possible.
First option is to be on Standard tariff (in most cases that means to stay on current deal you have). Oh, by the way, this is a really bad choice as it is very likely you can get a better deal and staying on Standard tariff leaves you directly affected by all the price changes.
- No personal time spent what-so-ever while finding the right supplier and deal.
- Good if you rent a flat on short lease and do not want year long contracts.
- You are paying much more than you could if you spent some time on research. I am talking about savings up to £400 per year!
- When prices go up, you pay more straight away.
Second option is to be safe and to switch to the fixed deal. That means you agree to pay the same rate for the unit of electricity and gas for certain period, usually for a year, but there are options to fix your payments for as long as 3 years. As of September 2011, the cheapest fixed dual fuel plans were: Npower – Go Fix 7 Dual Fuel and EDF Energy – Fixed S@ver 2 Dual Fuel
- Fixed prices tariff is great if you want to be safe and you want to know exactly how much you will be paying without worrying about all increases.
- If energy prices go up the price of the standard electricity or gas unit might go above your fixed rate and then you would be happy to be on fixed deal because your rate would not change.
- You would not be allowed to change your provider or deal for the period of the contract and if you do, you would need pay a cancelation charge (usually around £20-£40 per one fuel).
- Fixing costs before all prices go up sounds really good, but I need to note that rate on those fixed deals is usually higher than standard rate, so you are technically paying more from the day one compared to someone who has a standard deal.
- But what if prices never go up by that much or what if you sign up for 3 years and then in the middle in the contract prices go down again? You will be stuck with your deal.
- Are you renting a flat? In that case it is probably not a good idea to go on long fixed deal unless you are sure you will not be moving somewhere else within your contract period.
The third option is constantly review your current deal and make sure you are getting the lowest rates for your electricity and gas every year. In some cases that involves not only switching your package but also your provider. Switching is really easy and these days this can be done online, however sometimes you have to make some calls to bank the best package. As of September 2011, the cheapest dual fuel plans were: Npower – Sign Online Dual Fuel 23 and Energy Discount Plan v5 Dual Fuel.
- You can stay at home and relax, knowing that you are getting the lowest possible bill for your gas and electricity possible and nothing else can be done.
- Usually you get a guaranteed price for a year, so if the price changes, you can be at least sure for that year you are safe.
- If you rent a flat and need to move out, your landlord or a new tenant should be happy to keep this deal, just let them know it is as good as it gets.
- After your “safe” year, you need to look a new best deal.
- Takes personal time for research.
Finding the best package in your area
There are so many comparison websites everywhere that now it is even more confusing to find what you need. Beware that most comparison websites, including those comparing gas and electricity deals, can actually belong to one of the providers. That sometimes result into inaccurate results, listing the package which belong to the the company of the website as the best, even though they are not. It is very important to real the small print (text written at the bottom of conditions in very small, hard to read letters). In many cases, there are extra charges associated with a deal which you do not know about until you get your first bill. So the easiest way is just go to uSwitch, enter your postcode, enter all the details and you will get a list of packages available in your area. Compare you current package to the ones offered and if you can save, make sure you are not in a contract with your current provider and call the new one asking for the new tariff, they will help with all switching questions. After a year, your new deal will expire and just do the same process again. In most case you can just move to one of the new tariffs with you current supplier and continue getting the best deals. And just the last note, some companies like N-Power motivate you to stay with them by giving £100 on your bill for every full year you stay with them. If you are with N-Power already, probably the best option is just to make sure you are on the lowest contract they can offer.