Guest blog written by Maggie Boyle
The TV adverts suggest its easy to find a cheap deal using a comparison site - when you get there there are lots of deals to choose from so how do you choose the right one for you? Also, not all comparison sites show you all the deals, some will only show you the deals from suppliers they get a fee from if you switch. Use an Ofgem accredited comparison site
Things to consider:
1. How do you pay now and how you want to pay?
Being able to paying for both gas and electricity to the same provider, using monthly direct debits and managing your account online will usually get you the cheapest deal.
But you may be on a prepayment meter. Energy bought using a prepayment meter is likely to be more expensive. You can ask a provider to change your meter, so that you can choose a cheaper deal on your energy, whether this is a useful option for you and whether it is possible will depend on your circumstances.
2. Do you choose a variable tariff or a fixed tariff?
Variable tariffs may look cheaper but as winter is on its way its is likely that energy prices will go up so you will probably be better off on a fixed deal for 12 months or more - you’ll know exactly how much your energy is going to cost, can estimate how much you will use from the information on your bill and hence can budget for the next 12 months. Look out for the symbols next to the quote. Most fixed tariffs will incur an exit fee if you want to switch before the end of the fixed deal. This can be quite a large sum so you want to check whether a new deal is so much more competitive that it is worth switching to before the end of the period of your fixed tariff.
3. Are you eligible for Warm Home Discount?
This is a discount of £140 on electricity bills for the winter period 2017-18. You maybe be automatically eligible for Warm Home Discount. Those who receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit are automatically eligible, some other low-income and vulnerable households may also be eligible but to find out you need to ask your energy supplier. If you think you may be eligible you need to look for the WHD symbol next to a quote, only the bigger suppliers are obligated to offer the WHD. You will need to take this into account when working out whether a deal is cheaper for you or not.
4. You need to switch tariff or provider each year
If you choose a fixed tariff the deal will usually last 12-18 months. After the deal ends the provider will put you on a standard variable tariff. This will be more expensive and you will need to switch again so as not to be charged uncompetitive prices. The supplier will write to you telling you your deal is coming to an end and that you will not incur exit fees if you decide to switch. You can usually switch 42-49 days before the expiry of the fixed term without incurring the exit fees. You can decide to ring up your current provider to see what deals they are currently offering and this will invariably be better than the standard variable deal you will go on to after the end of a fixed deal so you can save money simply by ringing your supplier. However, you will probably be able to get a better deal by finding the supplier offering the best prices at the time you need to switch. So always read your letters/emails from your supplier - they have to tell you when it is time to switch - you’ll pay less for your fuel!
Come to the Folkestone Power Café to find out more! (Search for Folkestone Power Café on Facebook or see the Power Café page on this website for more details.)