Compare energy suppliers and cut bills

The best energy tariff

Energy prices can go up or down depending on a whole host of reasons, such as market cost. So, if you haven’t switched gas or electricity supplier recently, there’s a good chance you’re paying more for your energy than you need to. To save money and get the best deal on your gas and electricity,  here’s what to think about when you compare energy suppliers.

Why should I switch energy suppliers?

Saving money and cutting bills is one of the biggest reasons for switching energy suppliers. In fact, according to figures from industry regulator Ofgem, you could save more than £100 by switching your gas and electricity provider.

But lower gas and electricity bills aren’t the only reason for switching. If you’re not happy with the level of customer service you’re receiving or you’ve had issues with your supply, it’s a good opportunity to find an alternative provider. 

You might also decide to switch to a greener supplier if you’re concerned about energy use and the impact on the environment. A number of energy providers now source some or all of their energy sustainably which can help you do your bit for the planet. 

How long does it take to compare and switch energy?

Comparing energy tariffs takes just a few minutes when you search with us. To start your search all you need is your postcode and a recent bill. We’ll then show you the best deals based on your energy needs. 

If you don’t have a recent energy bill to hand, that’s ok, you can still compare energy prices based on your estimated energy usage..  

How do I compare energy prices?

When you compare energy suppliers, take a look at::

  • The unit cost of gas and electricity — these are measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) and you’ll be charged for every kWh you use. 
  • Standing charges — almost all providers have a standing charge. It’s a fixed daily amount that covers the cost of supplying your home with energy.

It’s a good idea to look at both these costs as it could make a difference to your bills overall. For example, a low cost per kWh might seem like a great deal, but a high standing charge could mean you end up paying significantly more than you bargained for over time. 

Which is the best energy tariff?

An energy tariff is the type of energy deal or plan that you can be on. Energy providers are responsible for setting their own specific terms and conditions but tariffs generally fall into one of these main types:

Variable tariff 

This is when the price of your gas or electricity changes depending on the wholesale or market cost. In most cases, variable tariffs will be the most expensive type of plan available. 

An example of this type of tariff is the standard variable tariff or SVT. This is essentially a supplier’s default tariff and the deal you’re likely to be on if you haven’t switched for a while. 

If you’re on a variable tariff, fluctuating prices can make it difficult to predict what future bills might be, which can make it trickier to budget. Nevertheless, variable tariffs are very flexible and you can switch suppliers at short notice without facing any exit fees.

Fixed rate tariff

These tariffs set the unit cost of your gas and electricity for an agreed length of time. Often, this is 12-months but longer contracts are also available.

If your energy use is consistent, fixed tariffs can help you budget as your bills should be fairly predictable. Remember though, your bills can still go up or down depending on the amount of energy you use. 

You should also bear in mind that fixed rate tariffs are contracted, so you’re tied in until the contract ends. If you want to leave early you can, but you should expect to pay exit fees if you do. 

Dual fuel tariff

These plans mean you buy your gas and electricity from one energy supplier. They can be particularly cost effective as many providers will offer discounts if you buy both from them. 

Dual fuel tariffs can also be convenient as you only have one provider to deal with. 

Green tariff

Green tariffs focus on providing energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and biomass. If green energy can’t be sourced directly, many suppliers will offset their carbon use by funding environmental charities instead. 

In the past, green energy tariffs had the reputation of being slightly more expensive than other tariffs but that’s not always the case now as technology has made it less costly to produce. 

Prepayment tariff

A prepayment tariff is where you pay for your energy upfront using a prepayment meter. Typically, you’ll need to load a special key or token with cash and use it to credit the meter.

These pay-as-you-go type plans usually work out more expensive compared to other types of tariff. However, they can help you budget because you’ll be able to see how much credit you have, which means you can adjust your energy usage accordingly.

If you move into a new property that has a prepayment meter, you can ask the energy supplier to remove it, but it’ll be at their discretion whether to actually do so. 

Economy 7 or 10 tariff

These tariffs give you either 7 or 10 hours of cheaper energy at certain times of day, usually at night-time. You’ll be able to make the most of cheaper energy if you’re able to put electricals (like a dishwasher or washing machine) on a timer. 

When is the best time to switch energy supplier?

If you’re on a fixed rate tariff, the best time to switch is during your switching window. Doing this means you won’t face any exit fees.

Your window is normally just over a month before your contract’s official end date. In most instances, you’ll be notified when your switching window opens. Don’t forget though,  if you’re on a variable tariff, you can switch at any time without being charged. 

How do I switch energy suppliers?

Switching energy suppliers is simple thanks to the Energy Switch Guarantee. Around 90% of providers have signed up to the guarantee, which promises to make the switch easy and hassle free for consumers.

There are just three steps to switching energy suppliers:

  1. Compare energy tariffs
  2. Choose a new tariff that suits you
  3. Contact the new supplier and confirm you want to switch 

When you’ve made the decision to switch, your new energy supplier will manage the entire process. They’ll  liaise with your old supplier and then confirm when the switch will take place. 

When the switch happens, it should be seamless. You won’t need new pipes and there should be no disruption to your supply. The only thing you might have to do is take meter readings but otherwise, the only difference is that you’ll get lower bills.

The entire switch should take no more than 21 days in total but many are often completed in as little as two weeks. 

Can I switch if I owe money to my current supplier? 

If you owe your current supplier money, you’ll need to settle any outstanding bills but you’ll usually be able to do this during the switching process. 

If you decide to switch and your account is in credit, your supplier should transfer the money back to you. 

Can I change my mind about switching energy supplier?

Yes, you have 14 days to change your mind. So, if you decide to stick with your old supplier, that’s ok. Just contact your new supplier and let them know what you’ve decided. 

When shouldn’t you switch energy providers? 

There are no set rules about when you can and can’t switch energy suppliers but if you’re on a fixed rate contract, it makes more sense to wait until your switching window opens. 

The only time you probably shouldn’t start the switching process is if your current energy supplier goes bust. This is because Ofgem will automatically appoint a new energy supplier to replace your old one. So, if your energy supplier does collapse, it’s advisable to wait until a new supplier has been appointed before you switch. 

If you’re already in the middle of switching when your old supplier stops operating, don’t worry. As the switch is already in progress, it will go ahead as usual. 

What is the energy price cap?

The energy price cap is a limit to how much energy suppliers can charge for the unit cost of energy and the standing charge. 

The cap applies to all payment types but only on default energy tariffs (like the SVT). For example, if you are on a variable plan and pay using a prepayment meter. 

The cap is set by Ofgem and is updated twice each year for summer and winter. 

Can I switch energy suppliers if I rent? 

If you’re a tenant and  rent, you can switch energy supplier but it will depend on the terms of your tenancy agreement. 

For instance, if your landlord pays your gas and electricity and then charges you for it, you won’t automatically be able to switch supplier. Instead, you’ll need to speak to your landlord first but the final decision will be at their discretion. 

If you pay for your own gas and electricity (and it’s your name on the bills) then it’s entirely up to you if you want to switch. Just be aware that under the terms of your tenancy contract, you may need to switch back to the original energy supplier when you move out. 

Will I get a smart meter if I switch suppliers? 

This will depend on where your new supplier is with their smart meter rollout but if they’re in a position to offer you one, they should. 

If you already have a smart meter, and it’s compatible with your new supplier’s system, then you should still be able to use it. If not, you may be given a new one.

Is switching energy suppliers worth it? 

The amount you could save depends on the amount of energy you use. It will also depend on where you live, as not all energy deals are available everywhere. 

To work out what you could save, it’s best to compare tariffs based on the amount of energy you use. 

If you’re on a fixed rate tariff, but find a great new deal before your contract ends, remember to factor in exit fees. If fees outweigh savings, it’s probably better to wait until your switching window opens. 

Who is the cheapest energy provider in the UK?

Energy prices will vary depending on the tariff you choose, availability in your area and your energy usage. 

Cost can also be affected by how you pay your bills and manage your account. For example, some energy firms offer discounts if you have an online only account or pay by Direct Debit. 

The best way to find the most competitive energy deals where you live, is to compare tariffs on an energy comparison site like ours. Simply answer a few questions about the energy you use, and we’ll take care of the rest.