Whether you have separate energy suppliers for gas and electric or if you are a dual fuel tariff, you could save money by switching suppliers and changing your habits around energy consumption. In this article, we shall discuss:
- Switching gas and electric suppliers
- Energy tariffs and the amount you pay
- The rising prices of gas and electric
- How to reduce your energy consumption
Switching gas and electric supplier
The primary reason you would probably be looking to switch gas and electric energy providers is to save money. However, you may also wish to seek improved customer service or prefer to use a green energy provider that uses renewable sources. It is estimated that 57% of households remain on low-value tariff plans and there is, in reality, no reason why more people should not seek a better deal on their energy bills.
You could save roughly £300 on gas and electricity bills based on Ofgem’s figures. Specifically, the cheapest available tariff is a little over £800 while using one of the popular energy companies in the British market could be setting you back over £1,100 annually. The savings are substantial if you decide to switch suppliers. How could you find out which is the best and cheapest energy supplier that suits you?
Using price comparison sites for switching gas and electricity suppliers is the most convenient and quick way to find out how much you could potentially save. It only takes roughly 5 minutes of your time to compare energy prices online, and you could find out how much you could save by supplying the name of your current provider and the energy tariff that you are on, as well as how much energy you use. Be aware that exit fees may mean that you have to pay more to switch providers, so make sure to read the details of your current agreement before moving forward.
The energy switching process is straightforward, as you would keep using the same infrastructure regardless of provider. All that would practically change for you is that you would deal with a new provider you would supply you with their service and billing. Your new supplier would work out all the details with your existing supplier when you decide to switch.
Energy tariffs can reduce the amount you pay
You could be paying more for your electric bills because of the tariff that you are currently on. Potentially, you may also be paying more because of your selected payment method. Some energy suppliers offer consumers discounts when opt for paperless billing, setting up a direct debit to pay monthly, and most importantly when they select a dual tariff, which means that the energy supplier provides both electric and gas to a single household.
Finding the right tariff to suit your household is an important step to make substantial savings on utility bills. Below are types of tariffs that suppliers may offer you:
- Green tariffs – Some or all of the energy supplied to you comes from renewable sources
- Dual fuel tariffs – This is when you choose to get gas and electric from the same supplier
- Fixed rate tariffs – The cost of your energy is standard and set for a predetermined period, typically 12 months
- Online tariffs – This means that all your billing is online, with no paper bills involved
- Capped tariffs – The cost of your gas and electric is not fixed, but you are guaranteed that the price will not reach higher than a certain level over a predetermined period. Effectively, you could stand to make a saving if energy prices go down, while at the same time you would not have to pay over a certain amount.
Price rises of gas and electric
Energy prices rise and fall regularly. This primarily happens because of the energy market supply and demand, while they also depend on wholesale costs. With a standard variable rate tariff, the amount you pay for your energy would fluctuate with the market trends. A fixed rate tariff can provide you with the assurance that you must pay a standard amount. It would, effectively, protect you against future price rises for the duration of your agreement with your energy supplier.
With a standard variable rate tariff, the amount you pay for your energy would fluctuate with the market trends.
Ofgem regulates the UK market for gas and electricity. However, the prices that suppliers may provide you are not regulated. The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) is a UK authority that protects consumers’ interests in the energy market while promoting competition where possible. While Ofgem used to regulate the prices of energy in the UK, by setting a maximum that suppliers could charge, Ofgem now only acts as a regulator of the entire energy market via regulatory schemes to support vulnerable household amongst others.
Reducing your energy consumption at home
Aside from the consideration to switch providers and pick between the different types of energy tariffs that may be offered to you, there are many practical, day-to-day practices and changes to your habits that can help save you money on energy bills.
It is very likely that certain appliances you use at home drive your electric bills up significantly. With a smart meter, you could isolate the energy use of your household appliances and monitor their consumption. By doing so, you could establish different routines or programmes when using your appliances, such as selecting different washing programs to save energy, or you may determine that replacing old, power-hungry devices is the way forward. Some common tips for saving energy at home day-to-day are:
- Turning down your thermostat
- Defrosting your fridge and setting it to low power operation
- Not leaving your electronics on standby
- Turning off your lights when you leaving home
- Use energy saving light bulbs such as LEDs
Furthermore, you may wish to use the government’s energy grants calculator to help you work out your eligibility for the Warm Home Discount scheme. You would be advised whether you’re eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment and whether you qualify for funding to help with improving the energy efficiency of your home, such as improving insulation. You may also wish to check the Energy Savings Trust for advice to help you save on your bills, as well as the Citizens Advice Bureau if you need to complain to your existing energy supplier.
Common questions about gas and electric bills
Firstly, there is the matter of access to gas mains, so while for many there is the option to use gas, others may need to use bottled gas which is more expensive. Secondly, there is the matter of efficiency; while electric heaters are 100% efficient, even a brand-new boiler will struggle to reach close to 90% efficiency. It may be worth considering to replace an older boiler to reduce your gas bills for this reason. In conclusion, mains gas is the cheapest way to heat your home.