The great energy switch
Published 14 August 2014 by Daniel Griffiths
Do you tend to stick to the same energy supplier year after year? Switching could save you hundreds, and doing it might be easier than you think.
With the cost of utility bills eating up a sizeable chunk of our income, shopping around for the best deals and switching suppliers could help save you a pretty penny when it matters most. It seems more and more of us are recognising this and opting for other competitors – not just the ‘Big Six’ – as 600,000 households changed to more small-scale, independent energy suppliers in the first half of 2014, according to Energy UK.
And in May of this year, more customers switched to smaller suppliers for their energy than to the largest ones – for the first time ever!
According to uSwitch, switching your energy provider could save you up to £383 a year, which is a pretty big saving in return for a small amount of effort. If you haven’t considered changing your energy supplier before, why not try and hunt out some deals now? You may be surprised at the amount you could save, and at how quick the whole process can be.
As energy prices vary across the country, websites like uSwitch compare providers using your postcode to find the most competitive in your area. It can take just minutes to scout out the best offers from a whole range of suppliers, so it’s well worth doing. After all, the more you save, the more cash you get to spend on the things you like.
Now might be the best time to switch too, as the summer months can sometimes lead to better deals from energy suppliers. As fewer of us will be using our heating at this time of year, providers may* offer more competitive deals as they expect fewer people to switch – which is even more reason to shop around and consider other options.
It typically takes between four to six weeks to complete a switchover, but you shouldn’t have to do anything during this time. Plus, if you do it now then the changes should be all set for when the heating comes on in autumn.
Creatures of habit
Despite the savings that could be made, Energy UK states that the ‘Big Six’ – EDF Energy, Npower, British Gas, Scottish Power, SSE and E.ON – still dominate the market, with a 90% share between them.
So it could be that many of us just prefer to stick with a service we’re familiar with, as change can sometimes be quite daunting. If you’re put off by the prospect of a lengthy, time-consuming and complicated switchover process, you might be pleased to hear that it really doesn’t have to be that complicated. If you’re a thinkmoney customer, you’ll be able to benefit from our Money Saving Team, who work with uSwitch to find you the best deal and organise a quick and easy switch - no hassle. To see how we can help you switch, give our Team a call on 08000 276 201.
Even if you’re renting, it doesn’t mean you have to stay stuck in a pricey tariff. If you’re responsible for paying the gas and/or electric, you should be entitled to switch suppliers – even if your tenancy agreement says otherwise. Get in touch with your landlord to ask about switching suppliers, and there shouldn’t be a problem if they recognise you’re happy to do it yourself. But, if you do run into any problems, it may be worth speaking to Citizens Advice to see if they can help.
For all-inclusive tenancies, you most likely won’t be able to switch yourself. However, if you believe your energy bills are too high, you could consider speaking to your landlord to see if they would agree to you changing suppliers to keep the bills down. Unfortunately they don’t have to agree to this, but it’s worth a shot if you think you might be able to save.
Things to remember
If you’re all set to switch, it pays to be mindful of tariff exit fees. Fixed energy tariffs could be the best solution if you think energy prices might rise in the near-future, but some suppliers may charge you for leaving them early. Before switching, you should check with your energy provider to see if you’ll be charged for leaving, and weigh up whether the savings you make will be more than what you lose – if not, it’s best to wait until your tariff has ended.
Paying your fuel bills quarterly can sometimes work out to be quite expensive, so choosing to pay by monthly direct debit could be a cheaper alternative. And if you’re a thinkmoney customer, we’ll be able to budget for your monthly energy payments like any other outgoings with your Managed Current Account.
Don’t always assume that dual fuel is the cheapest option; try shopping around to find the best deals on gas and electricity separately. You could find that using two different providers works out cheaper.
Once you have made the switch, keep your money-saving hat on and resist temptation to stick with the same provider again. Just because you’ve changed to the best deal now, doesn’t mean it will be the best option in the future – so try to keep on top of it to save the most cash.