Signing up for an online energy tariff means you agree to manage your gas and electricity bills via the internet – meter readings are logged online and bills are usually accessed by logging into your energy supplier's website or sent via email, rather than through the post.
Although these accounts have to be set up and managed online, you should still be able to speak to your energy provider over the phone if you need to. And when it comes to paying your bills, this can still be done by monthly direct debit, or by using a debit or credit card once you’ve received your bill.
You may be charged a fee for leaving an online deal, so check with your supplier before you switch.
Online account management means energy companies can completely cut out the costs associated with sending out paper bills and taking manual meter reading – online energy plans offer gas and electricity at a discounted rate to both reflect this cut in overheads and make this type of tariff more attractive.
When you compare energy plans, you’ll often find online energy tariffs are among the cheapest available, but to make sure you’re definitely getting the best price, you should always compare the overall cost of any online deal against the other types of tariffs out there.
Cheaper gas and electricity is the most obvious benefit of an online energy plan, but you’ll also find they offer a more convenient way of managing your energy bills, particularly if you already do a lot of your household budgeting and banking online.
For instance, you can log your meter readings at any time, and not just during call centre opening hours, and check your most recent bill, review your monthly usage, and check when your tariff ends from any device with internet access.
And then there’s the fact that paperless bills and no more house calls to read your meter means online energy tariffs are also better for the environment.
24/7 access to your account means you can take control of your energy costs and provide regular meter readings to ensure your bills are accurate, rather than relying on the supplier to provide "estimated" bills – which can often be incorrect.
Some suppliers’ also offer online tools that provide useful usage graphs to help you gauge your energy consumption and detect any sudden changes in usage which can lead to larger and more costly energy bills.
If you have regular access to the internet and you’re comfortable managing your household bills online, then an online energy tariff could offer a perfect fit.