While wholesale gas and electricity prices in the UK hit a five-year low at the end of 2015, a BBC news story reported that many suppliers had failed to pass on these savings to their customers.
It said that some consumers – particularly those on standard variable rate tariffs – could be paying more than they need to for their gas and / or electricity.
But even those who are on fixed rate tariffs could be overpaying for their utilities, simply because they have stuck with the same supplier for a while and have not investigated whether cheaper options are available.
Now that energy supplier E-on has said it will cut its prices, whatever your circumstance, there has potentially never been a better time to start shopping around for an alternative energy supplier.
So, how do you find the best energy deals? You have a number of options …
- Contact your existing supplier
Contact your existing supplier/s and see if you are on their best tariff. You could find that by switching tariffs with your existing provider may save you money, without you having to pay a penalty for ending your contract with them.
On the downside, while you may be getting a more cost effective deal from your existing supplier, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be getting the cheapest energy deal overall, as other suppliers may still have even cheaper tariffs.
- Compare the different suppliers’ plans by telephone or online
You can do some shopping around yourself by contacting the various suppliers and working out if they could offer a more cost-attractive deal than your current one.
As there are currently 22 UK suppliers of energy, though, this could be quite a time-consuming task!
- Use an energy cost comparison service
This is probably the quickest and easiest way to see whether you are paying too much for your existing deal – and who is offering the most cost-attractive solution.
There are several online energy cost comparison services in the UK who can help find you the best energy deals. They are typically free to use and you don’t need to provide a whole raft of information in order to see what your options are. For example, you’ll need to know the name of the tariff you are currently on, how much you have spent on energy in the last year, how you pay your bills (e.g. by direct debit or when your bill arrives), and your postcode.
Simply enter the details and the service will then deliver the results of the most cost-effective and suitable deals for you, enabling you to see which one is most appropriate for your needs.
Don’t just choose the cheapest deal
When comparing the different options, don’t automatically elect for the cheapest deal. As with all matters financial, do check out the terms and conditions. Some may have high exit fees, for example, meaning that if you want to switch again before the contract terms ends, you face a financial penalty.
Check out customer service reviews – there is no point having a cheap gas or electricity supplier if their customer service is bad. You never know when you may have to ring them.
Finally, don’t forget to check if there are any exit fees for your current energy supply contract and deduct that amount from any estimated cost savings.