Compare Electricity Prices
Switch for Cheaper Energy
If you can’t remember the last time you switched electricity supplier, you could be paying more than you need. For cheaper energy bills, here’s what to consider when it comes to comparing and choosing the best energy tariff for you.
Why switch energy supplier?
Switching can cut your energy bills. In fact, industry regulator Ofgem, estimates that you could save almost £200 just by changing your electricity supplier. But that’s not the only reason, if you’re not 100% happy with your current supplier, switching is a good opportunity to find customer service that meets your expectations.
Plus, if you’re worried about your carbon footprint, switching to a green energy supplier can help you do your bit for the environment.
How to compare electricity prices
Comparing energy deals is quick and easy — all you need is your postcode and a recent bill that shows how much electricity you use. It’s also helpful to know who your current supplier is and the name of the tariff you’re on.
If you don’t have a bill to hand, you can still compare electricity but your quote might not be as accurate.
What to look out for when comparing energy suppliers
When you compare energy suppliers, there are a few points to bear in mind to ensure you get the very best rates and save money, for example:
- Cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) — you’re charged for every unit of electricity you use, which is measured in kilowatt hours. Cost per unit varies by energy supplier but the current average price is 14.4p per kWh.
- Standing charge — this is the amount it costs to supply your home with electricity. It’s typically charged at a flat daily rate. The current UK average is 20.6p per day.
It’s important to compare both these costs to get a better idea of the value offered by each supplier. Some energy deals might offer a low cost per kWh but have a higher standing charge. The difference is usually pennies but it can make a significant difference over the course of a year.
What are the different types of electricity tariff?
Energy tariffs set out the price you pay for electricity. They can also dictate how and when you pay for it too, for example by direct debit or monthly or quarterly payments.
In some cases, there may be specific terms such as managing your account and payments online — this is particularly common with green energy tariffs.
With all this in mind, energy suppliers offer a range of plans to suit a variety of needs and while they often go by different names, they’re likely to fall into one of five main tariff types:
- Fixed rate tariff — these plans set the price of electricity per kWh for a fixed length of time, usually 12-months although you can get energy deals that last a little longer. Fixed tariffs don’t mean your bills will always be the same, they can still go up or down depending on the amount of electricity you use. However, if your energy usage is consistent, it can help you budget as bills should be fairly predictable.
- Variable rate tariff — this is when the unit price of electricity goes up or down according to wholesale costs. Because the price you pay per kWh fluctuates, you’ll benefit from lower energy bills if prices fall but will pay more if they rise.
- Dual fuel tariff — this is when you buy both your electricity and gas from the same supplier. Dual fuel tariffs usually offer good value for money as suppliers will offer you a discounted rate for buying both.
- Green tariff — these tariffs focus on renewable electricity but the amount of green energy sourced will depend on the individual supplier. Some energy providers source 100% green electricity while others will aim to use a minimum percentage. Alternatively, if a supplier can’t provide renewable electricity, they may fund environmental projects instead.
- Economy 7/10 — these plans provide either 7 or 10 hours of cheap electricity per day and are only available if you have an Economy 7 or 10 meter. If you’re able to put timers on your washing machine and dishwasher, economy energy plans can help you manage and monitor bills. If you have an Economy 7 or 10 meter, your bill will show two prices for electricity.
- Prepayment tariff — this is similar to a pay-as-you-go plan where you pay for your electricity upfront. This typically means loading a token or special key with credit and putting this into a prepayment meter. A number of energy suppliers now use apps so you can top up your electricity meter without leaving the house. Prepayment tariffs are often the most expensive although you can ask your supplier to remove it, but it’ll be at their discretion.
What is a standard variable rate?
A standard variable rate (SVT) is a type of variable tariff and it’s sometimes referred to as a default energy plan.
Standard variable tariffs are often one of the most expensive energy plans to be on. This is because the unit cost of electricity isn’t fixed and goes up or down according to wholesale prices. Prices can also be affected by the cost of electricity production, as well as operating costs.
That said, it’s easy to find yourself on this type of tariff. For instance, if your fixed rate tariff has come to an end but you haven’t agreed a new deal, it’s likely that you’re on your current supplier’s SVT.
Similarly, if you’ve just moved into a new home and haven’t agreed an energy deal with anyone, you’ll probably be on a default SVT.
What is the energy price cap?
The Energy Price Cap is a limit on the amount energy suppliers can charge for gas and electricity. It also applies to the daily standing charge.
The cap only applies to a supplier’s default tariff such as an SVT. The amount is fixed by Ofgem and is reviewed twice each year for summer and winter to ensure that consumers pay a fair price for their energy.
Currently, the energy price cap protects around 11 million customers on default tariffs and four million who have a prepayment meter. Ofgem estimates that the cap helps consumers save a total of £1 billion, which works out at between £75-£100 per year.
When can I switch electricity suppliers?
The best time to change energy supplier is during your switching window. If you have a fixed rate tariff, this is usually 4-6 weeks before your contract end date. If you’re on a standard variable rate tariff, the good news is that you should be able to switch energy supplier quickly without paying exit fees.
You can, of course, switch at any point even before your switching window opens but expect to pay hefty exit fees if you do.
Who are the best electricity suppliers?
This really depends on what your needs are but with more than 50 active energy suppliers on the market, you’re bound to find one that suits you.
If you’re not sure where to start, the largest suppliers are collectively known as the ‘big six’ which are:
- British Gas
- EDF Energy
- Scottish Power
There is also a vast range of small to medium sized energy suppliers, some who specialise in certain types of energy. For instance, Green Energy UK provides 100% renewable electricity and 100% green gas. Others such as Bulb and Ecotricity offer 100% renewable electricity but a percentage of green gas.
If renewable energy is important to you, it’s worth taking a look at the supplier’s fuel mix which sets out where their energy comes from by percentage.
How does switching energy suppliers work?
Switching energy suppliers is really straightforward and the whole process takes just a few steps:
- Compare electricity tariffs
- Speak to your chosen energy supplier to confirm the switch
- Check and sign your new contract
When you confirm everything with your new supplier, they’ll manage the whole switching process on your behalf, including letting your old supplier know you’re leaving. Your existing supplier will also send you a final bill to settle any outstanding amounts or, if you’re in credit, you’ll be given a refund.
Your new supplier should let you know when the actual switch will take place but otherwise, you just need to sit back and wait for lower bills to roll in.
How long does it take to switch electricity supplier?
The whole process should take no more than 21 days from start to finish. Most switches take an average of 17 days and some can be completed in as little as two weeks.
If I agree to switch electricity suppliers can I change my mind?
Yes, even if you’ve agreed to a switch, you have 14 days to change your mind. If you decide not to go ahead, just contact your new supplier and they’ll stop the switch from happening.
Will I get a smart meter if I switch energy supplier?
Smart meters monitor your energy consumption and can help encourage energy efficiency. Smart meters also send automated meter readings to your energy supplier which means electricity bills are based on your actual usage instead of estimates.
The government wants all homes and small businesses to be offered a smart meter by 2025 but it is up to energy companies to oversee the roll out.
If you already have a smart meter, your new supplier will check it’s compatible with their system. If it isn’t (or you don’t have one) they should replace it with a new one if they’re in a position to do so.
Can I switch electricity supplier if I rent?
If you’re a tenant and you pay for your electricity directly, then yes, you can switch to a new supplier. You might have to switch back to the old supplier when you leave but this should be made clear within the terms of your tenancy agreement. It’s also worth checking to see if your landlord has any preferred suppliers.
On the other hand, if your landlord pays the electricity supplier and then charges you for it, it’s up to them whether to switch or not.
Start your energy comparison right here
If you’re looking for the best energy deals in your area, you’ve come to the right place. Comparing electricity tariffs takes just a few minutes but it could help you cut energy bills significantly. So, to search for cheaper electricity, start your quote here.