Martin Lewis: why you should switch energy provider

Brace yourself.  Energy bills are about to be hit by a double whammy. The big firms are all putting their prices up (again) and many of the cheapest deals you can switch to have been pulled. So let me be plain NOW IS THE TIME to switch before winter, every week’s delay risks you paying more.

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And if you’re on a standard tariff (ie the hideously expensive one most people are on) then as with typical bills you’re overpaying by £360 a year, so if you don’t act you’re ripping yourself off.

The Energy Price hikes…

All the big six providers have put up prices this year, and now we’ve had a second round from four of them – which are due to hit your next bills. As for the two who haven’t done it a second time, that could still come.

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Provider1st price rise2ndprice risePrice on typical usage after rises
British GasUp 5.5% (29 May)Up 3.8% (1 Oct)£1,205
EDFUp 1.4% (7 Jun)Up 6%(31 Aug)£1,227
Scottish PowerUp 5.5% (1 Jun)Up 3.7% (8 Oct)£1,257
NpowerUp 5.5% (17 Jun)n/a£1,230
SSEUp 7.8% (11 Jul) (1)n/a£1,196
E.onScrapped £30/yr dual-fuel discount (19 Apr)Up 4.8% (16 Aug)£1,208
All prices based on Ofgem typical use figures and are averaged across the UK as they vary with region. (1) Includes the scrapping of a £6 per fuel annual paperless discount.

Now compare those to the cheapest deals on the market and you’ll see huge savings. Yet speed is of the essence. With wholesale prices (the prices energy companies pay for energy) rising, many cheap deals are ending and being replaced by more expensive ones. 

The cheapest one-year fix at the beginning of August was £867/yr, today the cheapest fix deal is£978– a rise of more than £111/year in the past month alone.  And for the moment this trend looks likely to continue, so the quicker you sort it out the better.

Yes, there’s a price cap coming, but don’t sit on your hands waiting.

The regulator Ofgem has said it will introduce a price cap on standard prices by the end of December. For someone who uses a typical amount of energy it’ll be £1,136/year fixed for six months. That will mean those on big 6 standard tariffs will see a reduction.

Whle Ofgem calls this a ‘fair’ price, that doesn’t mean it is a ‘good’ price – the danger is people will get the false sense of security that they’re on a good deal – where as you can lock in a fixed deal for a year at up to 20% cheaper.  Plus the price is only fixed for six months and after that the way wholesale prices are moving, it’s likely they’ll rise again.

How to find your cheapest deal.

Whatever your energy set up, whether it’s direct debit or prepay, electricity only or dual fuel, as your cheapest depends on where you live and what you use, there’s no one winner. Therefore, the answer quite simply is to use a comparison site.

Though do beware, comparison sites are now allowed to only show you tariffs that pay them, as many of the big ones do this, which means you may not see all the deals.

There’s a full list of comparison sites at www.ofgem.gov.ukor you can use my www.cheapenergyclub.comwhich includes all the market’s deals by default (and it also gives you £25 dual fuel cashback if you switch). 

It’s best if you have your bills to hand to do this, but even if not, most comparison sites will estimate for you – and just do it – the sin of inaction is bigger than the sin of inaccuracy.

Those who aren’t online can call up some comparison sites too (or ask friends who are more web savvy to help them).



Help I’ve never heard of the one that comes cheapest.

If you’re put off by the fact your winners are names you don’t know – don’t be. Simply scroll down to one you do know – or one with a good customer service rating. You don’t have to go for the very cheapest – go for one you’re happy with.

Don’t think switching is complicated. It’s not. It only takes minutes to find your cheapest deal and then it’s switched over in 17 days. Those who worry about switching, don’t – it’s the same pipes, gas, meter, safety – you don’t lose supply – the only difference is price and customer service. And there’s no break in supply when you do switch.

British Gas customers get £200/year off – but only if you ask for it.

3.5m homes are on British Gas’ standard tariff. Of course by far the best thing to do is a full comparison. Yet if you’re loyal and want to stick with British Gas, the energy giant has launched a new dual fuel, direct debit tariff (i.e. where you get both gas and electricity from it) called ‘Energy Plus Boiler Cover Oct 19’ and this is available for both new customers and existing British Gas customers who apply online (or better via a comparison site to see exactly what it’ll cost).

On average it is £1,020/year (though it depends on your region) and the price is fixed for a year, so it won’t rise in October – meaning a typical saving of £185/year, plus it also includes British Gas Boiler Insurance for no extra cost, as you’d normally pay £50ish for that it takes the saving to over £200. If you don’t already have a British Gas Smart meter, it will install one as part of this. All that means is you won’t need to give meter readings in future.

So at the very least if you’re currently a British Gas customer, and want to stick with it, this is often a no-brainer saving. And British Gas isn’t the only one, other big 6 firms have much cheaper tariffs than their standard ones too, especially Eon and EDF at the moment.

Martin Lewis is the Founder and Chair of MoneySavingExpert.com. To join the 13 million people who get his free Money Tips weekly email, go to www.moneysavingexpert.com/latesttip.

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