Nearly three million gas and electricity customers switched provider in the first part of 2018 – but if you weren’t one of them, then you could be missing out. According to regulator Ofgem, the cheapest energy tariff in summer 2018 was £788 a year compared to an average of £1,133.
Making the switch with UKPower could knock as much as £482* off your annual gas and electricity bills, which means that there are definitely savings to be had on your energy bills – here’s how.
To run a quote and switch supplier, you’ll need to know how much energy you use – this can be in kilowatt hours (kWh) or in pounds. You’ll also need the name of the tariff you’re on and the provider you’re with – you can get all of this information from a recent bill.
If you don’t have your last bill to hand, then don’t worry. You’ll still be able to compare, but you’ll have to answer a few more questions and quotes may not be as accurate as they’ll be based on estimations.
It’s also useful to know the end date of your contract if you’re on a fixed term plan. If you’re considering switching partway through your agreement then bear in mind that you may have to pay an exit fee (so be sure to take this into consideration).
The label ‘big six’ is used to describe (you guessed it) the six biggest energy suppliers in the UK:
1. British Gas – leaders of the pack and the biggest provider of energy in the country supplying around 15 million homes.
2. SSE – the second largest energy supplier in the UK, they’re known by different names based on location (SSE, SWALEC, and Scottish Hydro).
3. E.ON – this supplier leads the way when it comes to the production of energy from combined heat and power – which is more energy efficient than traditional methods.
4. EDF Energy – the biggest producers of electricity in the UK; they supply just under 6 million homes.
5. Npower – supplying energy to 6.5 million customers, they used to go under the name of Innogy.
6. Scottish Power – confusingly Scottish Power is owned by Spanish firm Iberdrola, it’s one of the smallest of the big six.
The big six energy suppliers might have the gas and electricity markets sewn up between them (dominating 78% and 79% respectively) but that doesn’t mean they lead the way when it comes to customer service.
In a recent survey of customer satisfaction, none of the big six appeared in the top 10 (or even the top 20). In fact, it’s the smaller suppliers that score the best when it comes to customer service, clarity and accuracy of billing, and value for money – proving that big isn’t always best.
Ofgem research has found that one in five customers is now with a small or medium sized energy supplier. Smaller firms are also quickly gaining market share – 21% for electricity and 22% for gas, compared to just five years ago when they held just 4.7% and 5% respectively. So, if you have any concerns about switching to a smaller provider, then perhaps it’s time to think again?
There’s a vast range of tariffs available which can make the job of choosing one overwhelming – to make life a bit easier here are some of the main types:
Fixed rate tariffs – fixed rate tariffs usually represent the best value for money. They cap the unit price of gas and electricity (in kWh) for the length of your contract – which can be anything from 12 months to three years. Your bills will still go up and down depending on how much energy you use, but if your usage is consistent then it can help you budget.
Variable rate tariffs – with variable rate tariffs, the unit price of gas and electricity fluctuates – either with the market price or at the discretion of your provider. A supplier’s default tariff (often known as a ‘standard variable tariff’ or SVT) falls into this category. SVTs are some of the most expensive on the market but if you don’t secure a new fixed term deal or have just moved into a new home – then this is typically what you’ll end up on.
Dual fuel tariffs – this is where you buy both your gas and electricity from the same supplier. Dual fuel tariffs are convenient as you only have one supplier to deal with, they can also be great value for money as providers will typically offer discounts to try and gain more of your business.
Pre-payment tariffs – this is when you have a meter that needs topping up with a key or smartcard. Prices are now capped to ensure consumers don’t end up paying inflated energy prices but it’s still a pricey tariff. If you’ve moved in somewhere that has a pre-payment meter then you can ask to change it.
Economy 7 and 10 tariffs – these tariffs are only available for electricity – it’s when you pay two different prices according to the time of day. With Economy 7 you get seven cheaper hours of electricity (usually at night). Economy 10 works on the same principle but the ten cheaper hours are spread throughout the day.
Capped energy tariffs – this is when the unit price of your energy is capped at a certain level guaranteeing that you won’t pay any more than agreed. However, if prices go down, then you’ll benefit from the reduction.
Green energy tariffs – green tariffs can vary according to supplier; some will source 100% renewable energy while others may use less. Some providers also balance out essential fossil fuel use with tree planting projects or other sustainability schemes.
If you rent and pay your energy bills direct to the supplier then you’ll be able to switch provider when you feel like it. Your landlord might have a supplier they prefer but you don’t have to agree to this if you can find a better deal elsewhere.
If your landlord pays for your energy (and bills you for it later) then it’s up to them who they use. You can of course ask your landlord to compare and switch but it will be at their discretion.
Switching energy supplier should take no more than 21 days and, in many cases, it takes just 17 – so it’s simple and quick.
By just telling us how much energy you use and who currently supplies you, we can search energy quotes from dozens of providers. If you like what we find all you need to do is confirm you’re happy to go ahead and switch energy suppliers.
You won’t even have to tell your old supplier that you want to leave as your new one will do all that for you. The only things you’ll need to do are settle outstanding bills (or claim a rebate if you’ve overpaid) and take a meter reading on the day of the switchover.
If you change your mind, then that’s fine too – by law you’ve got a 14-day cooling off period but this will all be set out in your new contract. If you cancel within the 14 days then you won’t have to pay a cancellation fee – cancel after that, and you will.
You don’t need new pipes or cables so switchover day should be no different to any other. The only thing you will notice is lower bills.
So, to make sure you’re getting the most for your money when it comes to your gas and electricity, compare cheap energy quotes with us today.
To find out exactly how much you could save by switching your gas and/or electricity tariff or supplier, simply enter your details into our postcode form above, or give us a call on 0800 320 2000 to speak to one of our savings experts.
*Between 1 Jan 2018 and 30 Jun 2018, at least 10% of people who switched energy supplier for both gas & electricity with uSwitch saved £482 or more.