From confusing tariff options to time sensitive offers and nonsense jargon, if you’re not careful you’ll almost certainly pay too much for your gas and electricity. Here’s how to make sure you don’t…
Utility companies will do whatever they can to squeeze every last penny off you.
Sophie and I got a stark reminder of this last week when we got a letter from our gas provider informing us that our tariff was going up.
There was no specific reason or apology, just a very vague mention that it was to do with rising gas prices and/or the way we use our gas in the house.
How much was the increase? It wasn’t just a few percent, this letter stated that our monthly direct debit was increasing by more than 30%, just like that!
Now I appreciate that energy prices have increased but then the profits of the gas and electricity providers is hardly at an all time low…
The good news is that Ofgem (the energy regulator) have promised to simplify the proceedings and in the future energy suppliers will have to reduce the number of tariffs they have available and inform us about the cheapest deals.
The government has promised to go further and put through legislation which will force electricity and gas suppliers to automatically give customers the cheapest tariffs.
All of this is will be great… when it happens.
In the meantime here’s what you can do to ensure your not getting ripped off by your energy supplier:
1. Use an energy price comparison website to check deals – As well as ensuring that you’re with the cheapest provider this will also show you the cheapest available tariffs. There are plenty of comparison websites to choose from including:
Bill Cutter (You don’t have to put in your email address (it’s optional) to get quotes with these guys)
Once you’ve found the cheapest supplier/tariff write the details down and take a look at step 5 before you hand over any more details – you may be able to save a further £20, £50 or even £100.
2. Pay by monthly direct debit for the biggest discount – Energy companies will give you the cheapest available rate if you agree to pay by monthly direct debit, so if you’re able to budget ahead this is the best option.
3. Check whether fixed term tariffs offer the best deal – Suppliers buy their electricity and gas in bulk so if you’re able to commit to a longer term contract at a fixed price you’ll often be able to get a better deal. Often the reason consumers will suddenly get hit by an increased rate is when one of these fixed term deals come to an end. When this happens don’t worry you can simply negotiate a new one or swap suppliers.
4. Does your existing supplier offer a better deal? – Energy suppliers don’t like losing customers so if you’ve done a price comparison check and found a cheaper deal elsewhere it could be worth giving your current energy supplier a call to see whether they can beat the price and give you an incentive to stay. You may get a better deal and receive a loyalty gift such as vouchers.
5. Use a cashback website and save an additional £25, £50 or £100 – I’m always banging on about cashback websites because they really really work. I recommend using TopCashBack because they guarantee you the best rate. I’ve been using them for 2 years now and have never had problems getting a pay out. You can see my article about using cashback websites here.
Here’s what came up when I did a search for electricity on TopCashBack:
Well worth doing if you’re thinking about switching energy supplier… or insurance supplier, mobile phone contract – you name it.
I hope you find these tips useful, please feel free to comment below.
In the same day that Sophie and I received our letter informing us that the rate was going up 30% we were get a new deal which was actually cheaper than the old rate. The whole process took less than 20 minutes and it was all done online.