How to Cut Your Energy Bill | Getting the Best Energy Deal

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Posted on by Conor MacGuire

One of the easiest ways to cut your bills is to make sure you get the best energy deal in the first place.Choosing the right tariff could save you hundreds of pounds a year. Use our expert advice to make sure you know how to get the best deal.

Find the Best Energy Deal

Don’t pay more than you have to for gas and electricity. Click to compare gas and electricity prices to find the best deal on the market using our independent switching service Which? Switch.

As Which? is a not-for-profit organisation, any money made by Which? Switch helps fund our campaigning activities.

How to Compare Energy Deals

The more information you give a price comparison service, the more accurate your saving quote will be. Use these tips to make sure you’re offered the very best deal for you.

1) Find out how much energy you use

Use your annual statement from your energy supplier or your last year’s worth of bills to find out the name of the tariff(s) you’re on and how much gas and electricity (kWh) you use.

Figures from your annual bill will get you the most accurate results when searching, but if you’re not able to find this out you can estimate your usage. See our guide to estimating how much energy you use.

2) Look for the best energy deals

Once you’ve given a comparison site your information, you’ll be able to compare the deals available to you. If you want the same supplier for your gas and your electricity, then a dual fuel deal will nearly always work out cheaper because of the dual fuel discount.

But we have found that you could save more by taking gas and electricity from two different suppliers. In our research taking the cheapest gas deal and the cheapest electricity deal from different suppliers worked out cheaper than the cheapest dual fuel deal on the market. So it’s worth looking at both options when wanting to switch.

3) Fixed or standard tariff?

A standard tariff (also known as a ‘variable’ tariff) is your supplier’s default tariff, and if you have been with your supplier for a while or didn’t switch after your fixed deal came to an end, it is very likely you are on it. The cost of standard tariffs will go up and down each time your supplier changes its rates.

Fixed tariffs, on the other hand, have their rate fixed for a certain period of time (e.g. one or two years).

Our exclusive research found that the cost of standard tariffs across all suppliers has increased on average by 4% (or £44 per year) over the last two years, while fixed deals have dropped by 7% on average (or £83).

Fixed deals tend to be cheaper than standard tariffs. We’ve found that fixed deals are, on average, 10% cheaper than standard tariffs. In fact, our analysis of energy tariffs has found that customers of the Big Six who are on a standard tariff could save between £222 and £292 by switching to the cheapest deal on the market.

So if you’re on a standard tariff, it’s time to switch.

4) Exit fees

Before you switch energy supplier, check the terms and conditions and be aware of exit fees that may apply if you leave the tariff within a set period.

If you want to leave a fixed-term tariff before the end of the contract, you will usually have to pay an exit fee. But don’t let this put you off:

  • Some of the cheapest deals on the market have no exit fees despite being fixed deals – so why not switch? If prices go up, you are protected; but if they go down, you could always switch at any time at no cost.
  • In the last 49 days of your fixed tariff, your supplier can’t charge exit fees if you switch.
  • You should not have to pay exit fees if you’re moving home, provided you keep your tariff but just change the address.
  • If you switch tariff but stay with the same provider, some are likely to waive the exit fee.
  • Most fixed deals have exit fees of £25-30 per fuel, so it’s worth working out whether you could still be better off switching and paying the exit fees.

5) Change how you pay

You can get a discount off your energy bills if you pay by monthly direct debit. The amount you pay each month will be worked out by your gas or electricity supplier based on the amount of energy you use or are likely to use in each year, divided by 12.

Take a look at our guide to paying your energy bill by direct debit for more tips on keeping your payments in check.

Keep your bills in check

Whether you’ve just switched or not, there are things you can do to keep your bills accurate and stop you being overcharged.

6) Give regular meter readings

Make sure you give regular meter readings to your supplier to make sure you’re being charged for the energy you’re actually using, rather than an estimate.

Take a look at our guide to understanding your bill to make sure you’re paying the right amount.

7) Avoid being overcharged

  • If your energy company raises prices, read your meter on the day the rise takes affect. This way you get the lower price for the maximum period.
  • If your bills are based on an estimated reading, then regularly check them against your own meter readings. If different, contact your supplier.
  • Question direct debit changes. If you do not agree with the proposed changes, contact your energy company and ask for further clarification. Remember that it’s normal to be in credit in the summer.
  • If you are disproportionately in credit, ask for a refund.
  • If there are going to be changes to your direct debit, a supplier must tell you at least 10 working days before it’s debited – either by a separate letter or email, or as a note on your bill. If it doesn’t, complain and ask for compensation. You can also make a claim under the Direct Debit Guarantee.
  • Use our letter template to complain to your energy supplier about being overcharged.

For more information, see our five tips to avoid your energy company overcharging.

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