As the winter months approach, think about your energy bills and to change your utility
providers if it is appropriate. But don’t get ripped off or respond to doorstep offers to change your supplier. Take some safe steps to change your utilities.
Steps to getting a better energy deal are simple and easy.
Don’t feel rude in questioning your current energy suppliers’ prices. They don’t reward you for loyalty and you could be overpaying compared to other suppliers.
Before you start, make sure you have all this information to hand:
- the name of your current supplier and current tariff
- how much you spent on electricity and gas in the past year. Look at past bills or ask your current supplier, otherwise work it out approximately
- how you currently pay, e.g. cheque or direct debit
- how you would like to pay in future
- your postcode.
THE FIRST STEP
If you are comfortable on your current supplier, then why not check their other offers?
Your current tariff may have been your supplier’s standard plan, which usually means it’s an old and outdated deal.
Your supplier will offer a range of different tariffs, some of which may work out heaper for you. To compare you can use your current bills/statements to help give you some alternative cheaper options or just simply call them to ask.
You could also save money by changing to another supplier. Never feel afraid to do so, it’s all about getting the best deal for yourself and saving money. (it could help you to save for a holiday next year?) It doesn’t change the energy you receive at all, just who you’re paying for it. You don’t have to worry about changing pipes or cables. It also means you don’t need to worry about an interruption to your energy supply
Always contact a supplier directly to ask about their deals. They’ll be able to give information over the phone or send you pricing details if you request them. You can always use Price Comparison Websites to compare tariffs with multiple suppliers, this will help you see a wide range of offers and help in your final decision.
THE SECOND STEP
Check how you’re paying. Are you doing it in the most cost-effective way? Most suppliers offer a discount if you pay by direct debit instead of cash of cheque. Paperless billing, where you manage your account online instead of receiving bills in the post, may also work out cheaper for you.
You should only change your payment method if you know this would work for you. Don’t complicate things for yourself if you don’t need to. Many people prefer having paper bills as it’s easier for them to understand. Fixed direct debits can lead to you sometimes overpaying or underpaying for your energy so keep up to date so you’re not caught out.
THE THIRD STEP
Switch your supplier to get a better deal, you may be surprised and get a better deal this way. You can use Price Comparison websites to help you compare deals across multiple suppliers. If you’re not online, you can call most directly.
Whilst comparing, it’s important to use impartial websites. Look for the Confidence Code logo. This is a sign that the site will offer independent and unbiased comparisons. Meaning they are not paid to promote certain suppliers.
Many Ofgem-accredited websites do also offer a telephone service if you are unable to get online. The list below carries the Confidence Code and offer this service:
- Energy Helpline
- Energy Linx
- Money Supermarket
- My Utility Genius
- Simply Switch
- Switch Gas and Electric
- The Energy Shop
- UK Power
When you’ve found the right tariff, you can switch via a Price Comparison Website or by calling the supplier directly. If you’ve decided to switch, your new supplier will get in touch with your old one to carry out the switch. (so, you’ve nothing else to worry about.)
The process can normally take up to 18 days. This includes a two-week cooling off period, during this time you can switch to another supplier or switch back with no penalty. If you’ve credit with your current supplier, make sure you claim the money back when you switch.
THE FINAL STEP
Don’t be afraid to speak to someone for advice/help before agreeing to any payment plans. Whether it be the supplier directly or any family/friends, it helps to get all the information you can before going any further.
If you’re finding it difficult to pay you bills, get in touch with your supplier as soon as you can. They should be able to let you know how they can help you avoid getting into debt.
If you unfortunately manage to get into debt, there are repayment plans available which will help you to pay your unpaid sums or to have a prepayment meter installed instead.
It can be uncomfortable to deal directly with your supplier about such matters, if this is the case, then you can ask an adviser to contact them on your behalf.
Further advice can be found on the Citizens Advice website here.
Age UK have published an excellent guide to the whole process of dealing with your utilities. Download it here.