Brrrr. It’s a cold wintery January morning outside and my energy supplier has just written to let me know my current tariff is due to end soon. Oh no, I think, now what is it going to cost? I hate having news of price rises, especially just after Christmas. The new tariff looks like it will be another £40 a month more than we were paying!
I have definitely been guilty of putting such letters in a big pile to deal with later, to then find it months later and realise that if I had looked it at it sooner I could have saved us money. Money that I could have spent on that new pair of shoes my daughter desperately needs!
I am determined this won’t happen this year so the opportunity to write this blog as a volunteer for Citizens Advice in Warwickshire (Leamington and Stratford Upon Avon) was the perfect opportunity to actually do it this year! Turns out it all comes down to three steps: check – switch – save.
The government and energy providers have been trying to make it easier for people to switch suppliers for a while. Good news! Because let’s face it; the reason why so many of us don’t switch is that it can be a bit overwhelming. Now your current energy provider should issue you with:
- a notice 42-49 days before the end of your current tariff. If you switch after this point you shouldn’t be charged a termination fee. The notice should detail a personal projection to estimate your energy costs over the next 12 months and provide details of your existing suppliers’ cheapest tariff. Be aware, if you have not received a notice, your bill should state whether you are on a fixed tariff and whether there is termination fee.
- You are not automatically switched to your suppliers’ cheapest tariff as these are often the fixed deals. They will provide you with their standard tariff. This means you are not fixed into a deal automatically, so you are free to shop around should you forget to renew it or switch. Remember the standard tariffs can be the most expensive so it is best to switch before your fixed tariff runs out!
I have put together a few tips of what to consider when checking your current deals:
- Get your last bill and the notice regarding your end of tariff, this information makes your energy supplier comparison search must simpler. It will detail your estimated annual usage for electricity and gas in kWh.
- Next, work out how much you currently pay per month and per year. Most of the comparison websites refer to both of these rates with these you can easily compare how much you would save
Be careful when you work out your current monthly spend, for example, I hadn’t noticed on the latest bill they had increased my gas direct debit by £24 a month. They had estimated my last bill as we just never got around to giving them our meter reading, this might have been a totally unnecessary increase!
Also remember to check what benefits or schemes you might be entitled to if you are struggling to pay your energy bills. You can check these here: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/get-help-paying-your-bills/grants-and-benefits-to-help-you-pay-your-energy-bills/ , at your local Citizens Advice or by calling the Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06
Citizens Advice have devised their own independent full market comparison tool which you can trust to provide an objective comparison. Go to the price comparison tool website where they will ask a few key details such as your postcode, current tariff supplier, tariff name and the annual usage in kWh https://energycompare.citizensadvice.org.uk/
I did this and within seconds I had been given a choice of 333 energy tariffs with 277 of them saving me money, with the best saving £374 a year!
A word of warning here: if good customer service is important to you take note of the right-hand column. This outlines what customer service rating the provider has. This is something I do value as I have had issues with previous suppliers which took them months to ensure they were charging us the right amount!
Still feel overwhelmed? If you think you could use some help, this service is also available at your local Citizens Advice or if in England you can call the Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.
Aside from switching suppliers you can also save on energy bills by making your home more energy efficient. You can do this by insulating walls, double glazing or simply using thicker curtains to keep the heat in. Also aim to get your boiler serviced or replaced to make sure it is energy efficient.
Smart meters should also be made available by suppliers by 2020 which should encourage us all to take more control of their energy use. They can help you become more aware such as turning off plugs, not charging mobiles and laptops too long get into the habit of turning off appliances rather than leaving them on standby.
Find out how to get lower energy bills and a more comfortable home with the Energy Saving Trust’s Home Energy Check at http://hec.est.org.uk/ . This will show you whether any investments will be cheaper in the long run.
This blog is part of Big Energy Saving Week 2018. For more information on the big energy saving week please visit:www.bigenergysavingweek.org.uk