How to beat the cost of rising energy prices, wherever you live

It has been another anxious week for families worried about the rise of their gas and electricity bills. Although British Gas has denied suggestions that it is about to raise prices by up to 25 per cent, the company has recently said that bills will increase sooner rather than later.

Nor is British Gas the only provider to be warning of impending price rises. Despite announcing a large increase in profits this week, Scottish Power said it thought further hikes in prices were inevitable for its customers in the near future.

In fact, every energy provider has raised prices significantly over the past two years, following a 168 per cent rise in the cost of wholesale gas - most of them have put their prices up twice or even three times.

The wholesale gas market has a serious effect on both domestic gas and electricity because electricity producers have to buy gas in order to produce the power they supply.

According to a report published this week by, the average annual gas bill has risen by 38 per cent since January 2004, to £454. Over the same period, the typical household's annual electricity bill has increased 26 per cent to £323.

However, some companies have passed on more of the pain than others. In the gas market, Telecom Plus has introduced the highest price rises over the past two years, while Powergen has been the most restrained. On electricity prices, EDF Energy's increases have been higher, while Scottish Power, Powergen and Scottish and Southern Energy have been the least aggressive.

Jo Malinowski of adds: "British Gas, despite a lower than average gas price increase, remains the most expensive of the major gas suppliers."

He calculates that the average British Gas customer could save £132 a year by switching provider. They could save a further £50 or so by moving to a company offering a cheap dual fuel deal, and by paying by direct debit. You can also cut bills by signing up to a new provider online.

But, says Karen Darby, of price comparison service SimplySwitch:"The most recent report from Ofgem, the watchdog, showed that only 50 per cent of households have ever switched energy provider."

One problem that may have put people off switching is that there is no simple answer to the question of which energy prices offer the cheapest deal.

Which company will supply you with the cheapest deals depends on where in the country you live, how big your home is, how much fuel you use and at what time of day.

However, to demonstrate how much people can save, we asked SimplySwitch to put us in touch with four different households around the country that have already switched to a new provider.

The idea was to identify who the cheapest providers might be for very varied households, with different families living all over the country. All the people in this study have been able to save substantial sums by moving energy provider. Most expect to move again in the future.

Green electricity can still be cheaper

* Customers who have never switched electricity company could move to an environmentally-friendly tariff and still save money - there are about 10 different green pricing options available.

* The green deals tend to be slightly more expensive than the cheapest electricity tariffs on the market, though some customers are happy to pay more.

* Providers such as Good Energy generate 100 per cent of your power from renewable energy sources, such as the wind. Other providers may only guarantee that a proportion of your power - say 10 per cent - comes from renewables.

* "Prices from the large companies can be competitive," says Tim Wolfenden of price comparison service uSwitch. "The majority of suppliers offer some sort of green deal and some have more than one."

* Specialist green energy suppliers include Ecotricity, Good Energy and Green Energy.

* Mainstream suppliers that offer a green tariff of at least one type include Npower, Scottish Power, Southern Electricity and EDF.

* Price comparison services such as uSwitch will allow users to specifically request green tariffs when they are searching for a new electricity deal.


"I'm only at home during the evenings and some weekends, so I don't use a huge amount of energy," says Camilla Ives from Croydon. SimplySwitch's verdict was a surprise: it said Camilla could reduce her annual bills by £200,.

* Previous suppliers: British Gas, Seeboard.

New supplier: Scottish Power.


Valerie and Stephen Brewster (above) live in a four-bedroom detached home in Glasgow with their two daughters, Ellen and Lois.

The family try to be as energy-efficient as possible, but Valerie is at home all day and, with two small children, they accept that they are likely to use more gas and electricity than many other households, especially when the dishwasher and washing machine are on.

"I've always thought there was an element of swings and roundabouts with energy providers, so that the hassle of switching wouldn't be rewarded with any real benefit," says Valerie.

"But then a friend said she thought we could save quite a bit, so we thought we should at least check to see."

In fact, by dumping Scottish Power and Scottish Gas in favour of a dual fuel bill from London Energy, the Brewsters reckon they are saving about £350 a year.

"It's an internet-based deal so we get bills by e-mail, but it's been very simple," says Valerie.

The Brewsters say they intend to make at least one price comparison every year. "I think it's important to check out the competition regularly," Valerie says.

Previous suppliers: Scottish Power, Scottish Gas. Cheapest current supplier: London Energy Online.


Mohamad Klibi and his wife Kathryn live in a two-bedroom house in Kingsbury, north-west London. Although they are both out of the house all day, the couple and their two children - daughter Lilia and son Leyth - are above-average consumers of energy.

"Two years ago, we decided to see if we could get a cheaper deal than we were getting from British Gas because there was lots of publicity about price rises," says Kathryn. The couple discovered the best way for them to save money was to switch both gas and electricity providers, and they moved to a dual fuel deal.

"We've probably saved about £10 each on gas and electricity every month, which adds up to almost £500 since we switched," says Kathryn.

Kathryn is aware that different providers top the best buy tables at any given moment. "We've very recently checked again and Atlantic is still the cheapest provider for us," she says. "But changing energy providers last time was very convenient so if we had to do it again, I wouldn't mind - we'll review this every year."

Previous supplier: British Gas. Cheapest current supplier: Atlantic Electric and Gas.


Jean and John Michelle live in a three-bedroom bungalow near Leicester. Two years ago, they switched to Powergen's Staywarm tariff, but their bills didn't seem to fall. "We were talking to friends with similar homes and they were paying less," says Jean.

A British Gas dual fuel deal has now delivered an annual saving of £300.

Previous supplier: Powergen.

New supplier: British Gas.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

    Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

    £85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

    Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

    SQL DBA/Developer

    £500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer SQL, C#, VBA, Data Warehousi...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering