Energy suppliers in new online price war: switch today and save £248!

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The Independent Online

With online energy plans at their cheapest for 15 months, now is the time to bag yourself a top tariff. Here's how switching suppliers today could save you £248* this year...

The mornings are getting darker, there's a crisp chill in the air and the cold nights are creeping in earlier and earlier...Yes, winter is well and truly on its way.

Despite a mild start to autumn this year, after a week of wind and torrential rain, radiators up and down the country are starting to clank their way back to life.

If you're concerned about how much it will cost to heat your home this winter, you'll be pleased to learn that while the damp and drizzle has persisted outdoors, things have heated up significantly in the energy market.

For the first time since July 2008, the average, yearly cost of an online energy plan has dropped below £1,000 to just £984.

With the average price of a standard plan currently £1,232 a year, this means if you switch to an online energy tariff today, you could save a whopping £248 this year.

Save up to £248 by switching your energy supplier today

The six top online tariffs

Here's a quick guide to how the competition stacks up:



Supplier

Plan

Yearly cost

Notes

First Utility

iSave

£954

No cancellation charges. £5 reward per quarter of you submit meter readings

E.ON

FixOnline*

"962

Fixed until 01/12/10. £30 early exit fee.

ScottishPower

Online Energy Saver 7

£972

£60 cancellation fee if you leave before 01/12/10.

OVO Energy

New Energy

£978

Fixed for 12 months. Early exit fee of £60.

EDF Energy

Online Version 5**

£983



British Gas

WebSaver 4 Dual

£994

Minimum of 6%



* Not available in East Midlands and Midlands

** Only available in 10 regions

As you can see, First Utility tops the table. Its energy tariff is on average £8 cheaper per year than the deal on offer from its nearest competitor, E.ON's FixOnline 3.

If you've never switched your energy supplier before, or haven't done so recently, you could save a massive £278 this year by signing up for the First Utility iSave plan.

In the far right hand column, you'll find details of what you should keep in mind when choosing a tariff. Remember, each of these plans must be managed online and you will not receive any paper bills.

Make sure you always read the terms and conditions carefully before signing up for any tariff to ensure you pick the best deal for you.

Save up to £248 by switching your energy supplier today

The benefits of an online tariff

It's cheaper

In this day and age, it's often the case that the cheapest energy tariffs on the market are for online customers only.

Therefore, if you're willing to supply your energy supplier with meter readings and manage your account via the internet, you could save a significant sum by opting for an online plan.

This is because there is less administration for the company concerned and less cost involved in billing customers. As a result, some of the pennies they save can be passed on to people like you and me.

It's green

If like me, your energy bills are often shoved, unread, down the side of the sofa, it might be time to sign up to paperless billing.

By switching to online billing, not only are you looking after the planet by wasting less paper, you could save a pretty packet too.

Many companies are now offering financial incentives to customers who sign up to paperless billing and view their statements online.

And if you do need a paper copy of a bill at some point, you can either print it off yourself or order it online.

Opting to pay your energy bills by direct debit could also make you additional savings, as some suppliers offer a discount in return for the guarantee that your payments will be on time.

Easy access

The beauty of an online energy plan is that you can access your account around the clock and from the comfort of your own home.

This should enable you to keep a closer eye on how much your gas and electricity is costing you, and help you budget better for your bills.

Energy Product Manager for BeatThatQuote.com, Stephen Ratcliffe, says: "Right now, with the recession still biting hard it's essential people do their homework and shop around for the best possible deal. Using an online price comparison service such as BeatThatQuote.com is a fast and easy way to compare a range of quotes from every energy company in the market."

* The £248 savings figure is based on the difference between the average annual cost of a dual fuel customer, with the annual consumption of 20,500 kWh for gas and 3,300 kWh electricity, across the 'big 6' standard plans, paying on receipt of bill, and the average cost of a customer on an online plan included within the table, paying by Direct Debit.*

**All annual costs in the table are based on 'medium' energy consumption: 20,500 kWh of gas and 3,300 kWh of electricity per year, for customers paying by monthly direct debit. Figures are correct as of 9 October 2009.**

*** The standard plan average yearly cost of £1,232 is based on the average cost of the 'big six' standard plans. This is based on 'medium' energy consumption: 20,500 kWh of gas and 3,300 kWh of electricity per year, for customers paying on receipt of bill.***

Save up to £248 by switching your energy supplier today

Victoria Bischoff is a personal finance writer for BeatThatQuote.com

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