Five minutes of your time could save you £350 on your energy bill

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If you’re one of the 60 per cent of people on a standard tariff, including the Big Six energy firms, you’re being ripped off. And that rip-off is getting bigger.

After huge price hike announcements, many are burning £350 a year. Yet it takes just five minutes, you can stop it.

And right now is the moment, because with all the Big Six having announced their price intentions, there’s a level playing field for comparison.

Take a look at the table below.

Energy price rises table photo

The prices I’ve put in are dual-fuel deals for someone with typical use – paying by monthly direct debit and using paperless bills.

Compare that to the cheapest one-year fix, where the rate is guaranteed for a year (not the price you pay, that depends on how much you use).

Of course if your bill is higher or lower, so is your saving.

Switching really isn’t that big a deal. It’s the same gas, same electricity, same safety – all that changes is customer service and billing.

And don’t worry – no engineers come to visit, it’s done without that, and you won’t be cut off mid-switch, so you are guaranteed continuous supply.

How to find your cheapest deal
Your exact winner depends on your location and how much you use. That’s why by far the easiest thing to do is use a comparison website – where you just put in your details and it finds you your cheapest deal.
It takes just five minutes with my www.cheapenergyclub.com, which I’ve designed to try and make it easy, and it automatically lets you see all tariffs across the market, and then monitors them afterwards in case a cheap deal launches.
Plus as comparison sites get paid around £60 (dual fuel) if you switch through them, Cheap Energy Club gives you £30 cashback.
Alternatively use any www.ofgem.gov.uk approved comparison site. However, do beware some will ask you something like, “Do you only want to see tariffs we can switch you to today?”
This is a proxy for: “only see tariffs that pay us”. So always select to see the whole of the market.
And if you’ve not switched because you find comparing too confusing, my most important message is that the sin of not comparing is worse than the sin of getting a comparison wrong.
You may end up on your third- or fourth- cheapest instead of your first, and with wrong predicted savings – yet you’d still be on a cheaper deal.

Now let me answer a few common switching questions…

Can I switch if I'm on a prepayment (key or card) meter?
Yes. Just do a comparison, though the savings tend not to be as large.
Far bigger savings are possible by switching to a standard meter, as there’s more competition.
If you’re with a Big Six firm you won’t be charged for switching meter, though will usually have to pass its credit check. Full help in www.mse.me/prepaidenergy.

I'm electricity only, what should I do?
You can do an electricity-only comparison exactly the same way as dual fuel, and the savings can still be substantial. If you’re on an Economy 7 or 10 tariff, comparing is trickier, though.

I switched to a cheap fix then it put my price up - have I been conned?
If you switch to a tariff with a guaranteed cheaper rate, you will save on the energy used.
Yet if the firm estimated you’d use less energy than you are, the initial direct debit can rise.
This feels like a price hike, but in the end as it’s a cheaper rate you’re still better off, although it is frustrating.
Yet do get on the phone and ask it to justify any direct debit rise. If it can’t you’ve a right to have it at a fair level.

I switched but my bills haven't dropped by the predicted saving. What can I do?
When you do a comparison the ‘saving’ is compared to what you would’ve paid if you did nothing.
Yet prices are rising, so if your bill was £1,000 last year, it would be £1,100-ish this year, therefore a £200 saving only cuts what you actually pay by £100.

Is direct debit really cheaper?
Yes. Suppliers charge around six per cent less if you pay specifically by monthly direct debit, so if you can, opt for that, but always give regular meter readings to get accurate bills.

I rent, can I switch?
Landlords can’t stop you changing supplier (unless your rent includes the energy bill).
If they unfairly band it in your contract send them this factsheet www.mse.me/energyguide#rentingfactsheet.
However, you do need a landlord’s permission to change the physical meter, eg switching from a prepayment to a normal meter.

I'm moving home, is there any point switching?
Yes, but grab a ‘portable’ deal. That’s one that can move with you when you move. You’ll find whether it’s portable listed by most comparison sites.

I've just moved home and have no bills. What do I do?
Most comparison sites will ask you a few questions and estimate your usage.

The comparison shows my cheapest is a small provider I've not heard of. Should I worry?
There’s a lot of small, new challenger energy firms. Big picture is: don’t worry. Even in the unlikely event that one went bust, the regulator Ofgem guarantees you won’t be cut off, and your custom will be moved elsewhere – though you may lose any super cheap deal (but would be free to switch elsewhere).
The bigger issue is some of these small firms pump out very cheap deals to build market share, and then can’t cope with the demand, hitting their customer service.
So look at the feedback ratings on comparison sites, and if it’s not good, scroll to the next cheapest.

  • Martin Lewis is the founder and chairman of MoneySavingExpert.com. To join the 12 million people who get his free Money Tips weekly email, go to www.moneysaving expert.com/latesttip.

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