2nd October 2014
It has been a long, warm summer – way better than we could have hoped for and September has been mercifully benign on the weather front.
But the days of single-digit temperatures are edging ever closer. November traditionally sees thermometers plummet below 10 degrees across the UK and even the hardiest of households will be turning their heating up and at the same time wondering how to keep their energy bills down.
For many people, managing winter energy bills means having the heating on less, turning down the thermostat, putting on an extra jumper and going to bed early to keep warm, warns Jeremy Cryer, energy spokesperson at comparison site Gocompare.com.
As a result he is urging consumers to act now to ensure that they are on the best energy tariff in time for the colder temperatures.
He says: “Although Ofgem is encouraging energy companies to speed up the time it takes to switch from one provider to another, in our experience it can still be a six to eight week process from start to finish.
“The sooner you begin the better chance you’ll have of being on a cheaper tariff before the cold really sets in and your bills rocket. Finding a cheaper energy tariff online takes minutes and the savings can be substantial.”
Cryer recommends that bill payers check out the current cheapest tariffs for average households as several companies, namely the smaller energy providers like Extra Energy, Ovo and Green Star are out to take business from the ‘big six and consumers can really benefit from this increased competition by locking in to lower prices.
Top ten cheapest tariffs
|Supplier||Tariff||Annual cost||Early exit fees?|
|Extra Energy||Fresh Fixed Price Nov 2015 v1||£988||£25 per fuel|
|First Utility||iSave Fixed v33 November 2015||£992||£30 per fuel|
|Green Star Energy||Rate Saver 12 Month Fixed 1410 Paperless||£1,004||£30 per fuel|
|Sainsbury’s Energy||Fixed Price October 2015||£1,009||£30 per fuel|
|Ovo Energy||Better Energy Fixed (Online)||£1,011||£30 per fuel|
|Extra Energy||Bright Fixed Price Nov 2015 v1||£1,014||£25 per fuel|
|Green Star Energy||Rate Saver 12 Month Fixed 1410 Paper bill||£1,019||£30 per fuel|
|E.on||Fixed 1 year v9||£1,021||£5 per fuel|
|Cooperative Energy||Fair & Square October 2015||£1,027||£25 per fuel|
|SSE||Direct||£1,029||£30 per fuel|
(Based on dual fuel, payment by monthly direct debit, averaged across all UK regions and based on an annual energy usage of 13,500kWh gas and 3,200kWh electricity (medium user). Correct as of 02/10/2014)
Cryer’s top tariff tips:
– Sign up online – online tariffs are usually the cheapest option. You won’t get paper bills and will be able to submit meter readings and manage your account via your supplier’s website or, in some cases, through smartphone apps. If you prefer to manage your account offline be sure to check the small print though, as some suppliers will charge extra for paper bills and telephone support.
– Pay by monthly direct debit – this is often the cheapest payment method. However, make sure you supply monthly meter readings to avoid over- or under-paying and potentially ending up having to up your monthly payment significantly.
– Fix. Signing up to a fixed tariff can be a gamble, as you won’t benefit from any price reductions, but if it’s consistency in energy pricing you’re after, these tariffs are for you. Be aware that most suppliers, but not all, charge cancellation fees should you terminate your contract early, though.
– Compare regularly – if you find that you could be paying less for your energy elsewhere, switch. Likewise, when you get a letter from your supplier informing you that your current deal is coming to an end, go to a comparison site and compare the tariffs available immediately. It can take around six weeks to transfer from one supplier to another, so as soon as you get this letter it’s time to look at what other tariffs are available.