THE weather’s turning, fixed energy deals are ending and we are being told to work from home again.
So it’s time to check you are not paying over the odds for your gas and electricity.
A cut in the price cap has lowered typical bills to £1,042 – but that’s still £200 more than you would pay if you shop around.
More than half of families do not regularly switch and are on standard tariffs, which can be pricier than suppliers’ deals for new customers.
But they should move because it is so easy – as our guide shows.
1. Are you lazy?
GET a cheaper deal from your existing supplier. Call the company or log into your online account to see what it offers.
This is for those who cannot be bothered moving to a new supplier and opening a new account.
It will not find you the cheapest deal, but it is better than doing nothing. For example, if you are on E.on’s standard tariff you will be paying around £1,042 a year. But go on its website and it will move you to a £988 tariff, saving £54. Just bear in mind that two big suppliers actually exclude existing loyal customers from the best deals, which are only to lure in new ones.
2. Are you forgetful?
TRY auto-switching. You sign up to a company that will regularly check to make sure you are on a good deal.
The big ones are Look After My Bills, Flipper, Switchcraft and WeFlip.
It is likely that you won’t get the very cheapest deal available, as many will only switch customers to “trustworthy” suppliers or ones that pay them commission. But it will be close.
Market leader Look After My Bills has more than half a million customers, with an average reduction of £262.
3. Do you want to see all the options?
USE price comparison sites such as Uswitch or Compare The Market to see your options. This involves a bit more work but it is still really easy.
You only need to put in your personal details and have an idea of how much you spend on energy each year, but you do not even need that.
Make sure your results show you all available deals, not just the ones the site can switch you to. Some are only available direct from the supplier.
The cheapest we found for a three-bedroom house in Kent, based on average energy usage, was on Compare The Market — £846 from Simplicity Energy.
Small firms with few overheads typically give lower prices but they do not necessarily have a good customer service record. Pick a supplier you trust.
Citizens Advice publishes customer service ratings.
4. Do you like cashback and savvy tricks?
YOU can actually get paid to switch – thanks to cashback — on some tariffs. For example, British Gas offers £100 to households that switch to it via Topcashback.
You just need to log into Topcashback, search for the offer and click on the deal, which takes you to the British Gas website where you sign up for the tariff.
Never do this for the sake of cashback when there are cheaper deals available.
You should compare tariffs using a price comparison site first.
For an extra bonus try recommending a friend.
Most suppliers encourage customers to sign up friends and family in exchange for bill credits, cash or giftcards. Scottish Power gives a £100 bill credit to both the referrer and to the new customer. With E.on, it is a £40 online gift card for retailers such as Amazon, Argos and Tesco.
‘I save £30 a month’
GRAPHIC designer Ian Strickland from Nottingham is saving £348 a year after signing up with auto-switching site Look After My Bills.
The 44-year-old said: “I saw the idea being pitched on Dragons’ Den and thought it was a great concept.
“We’ve got two kids and full time jobs – so not much time for trawling around for price comparison websites looking for energy deals.
“After I signed up, Look After My Bills arranged a new deal for me when my fixed tariff with British Gas came to end. It was all very easy.
“I’m now paying £71 a month with Utility Point, much less than the £100 a month deal I had with British Gas.
“It’s a relief to have someone else doing the legwork for us and knowing we’re getting a good rate. It has made a huge difference to us and there’s no catch.”
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