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It’s that time of the year again, when we move from the highs of summer (or lack thereof!) to the start of winter. The familiar signs are starting to show – the nights are starting to draw in, the crisp air, the seasonal TV returning back to our screens. But before you reach to turn on your heating once more, you could save yourself a pretty penny by switching your provider before winter arrives.

Why now?

If you’ve not switched your energy provider in the last few years, then you’re not alone – around 60 per cent of households say they haven’t. But you’re not gaining anything by staying – it’s thought that switching could save you around £200 on your gas and electricity. That’s why it’s worth looking at the different tariffs available now, just before the weather starts to turn and you begin to rely more and more on your heating.

If you’ve been put off by the process of switching in the past, then you don’t have to worry about this anymore. It no longer takes up to six weeks to switch providers, the process is now down to just 17 days and includes a ‘cooling off’ period of two weeks where you can change your mind if you want to. There’s no disruption to your energy supply either, you shouldn’t even notice a difference other than to your bank balance.

Finding the best deal

Before you try to looking for other deals, you need to figure out how much energy you use. You can find this out by using your annual statement from your energy supplier or your previous bills, and the name of your tariff should be on there too.

Once you’ve got this information you can use it to search on price comparison sites like uSwitch, to see if you can find a better deal for yourself. When doing this think about whether you’d want to have the same supplier for your gas and electricity or don’t mind dealing with two different ones. It’s been suggested that taking gas and electricity from two different suppliers can work out cheaper than opting for the cheapest dual-fuel deal available – so look at both options.

Before you do anything, check whether you’ll face any exit fees for leaving the tariff that you’re on. You will usually have to pay a fee when leaving a fixed-term tariff before it’s due to end, so look over the terms and conditions beforehand.

Helping hand

Making sure your home is energy efficient can have a serious impact on the cost of your bills so it’s definitely worth looking into. Installing a new boiler could save you around £340 a year, while loft insulation could save you £150 annually.

You may be able to get a free boiler or loft and cavity wall insulation if you get tax credits and have an income of £16,000 or less, or you’re receiving certain benefits like pension credit. Each energy provider will have their own criteria though, you can find out whether you’re eligible by calling them up and asking for a free assessment.

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