Energy


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Whether you’re looking for a dual fuel tariff or separate gas and electricity bills for your home or business, we’ll help you compare and find the right energy deal for you. Here are some answers to frequently asked customer questions.

Frequently asked questions

Why should I switch gas and electricity?

You could be looking to make savings or may want to switch to get better customer service, or you might want to opt for a green energy supplier. Whatever your reason, only comparethemarket.com customers get rewarded for switching by getting 2 for 1 cinema tickets with Meerkat Movies.* 

How much can I save by switching energy suppliers?

Ofgem figures from March 2018 show that the UK’s cheapest available tariff is about £810 per year.

In contrast, the average price of a year’s dual fuel from one of the ‘Big Six’ (EDF, E.ON, Scottish Power, British Gas, npower and SSE) was £1,135. So even if you’re keeping your provider and changing to a new tariff, there’s lots of savings potential.

With only 18% and 19% of electricity and gas customers respectively switching supplier, according to Ofgem, this gives plenty of potential to make savings. If you are one of the 57% of households that remain on poor value standard variable tariffs, it’s worth comparing to see how much you can potentially save

What information do I need to switch energy provider?

All the information needed to switch can be found on a recent bill. If there isn’t one to hand, don’t worry, you can still get a quick quote – it’ll just be based on estimations.

For a more accurate quote, you need to know things like:

  • the name of your current supplier and tariff

  • how much energy you use (this can be in kilowatt hours (kWh) or in pounds)

Not sure where to look? read our guide to understanding your energy bill.

If you’re on a fixed rate tariff and decide to leave before it ends, check to see whether you’ll be charged an exit fee.

How quickly can I compare energy prices?

On average, we’ve found that it takes about four minutes to compare energy prices. With 69 active suppliers competing in the energy market according to Ofgem, it's far quicker to use a comparison service than doing all the legwork yourself. 

How does switching energy provider work?

It doesn’t matter who supplies your gas or electricity – it all comes into your home through the same pipes, ducts, cables and wires. All switching means is that the supplier providing it changes. When you make the decision to switch, your new supplier will sort out all the details with your existing supplier.

Switching with us is easy, quick and fuss free. We ask a few simple questions about your energy use and find suitable, available deals based on your answers. Learn more in our guide to the switching process.

Will my gas and electricity be interrupted if I switch?

No – your gas and electricity supply will carry on as normal. The only thing that changes is where your bills come from.

Gas and electricity come into your home the same way, so there’ll be no break in supply and you can get on with counting your savings.

Which gas and electricity tariff types I can get?

There’s an energy tariff to suit all households, it’s just a question of finding the right one. Energy suppliers can offer:

  • Fixed rate tariffs where the cost of your energy is fixed for a certain time, for example 12 months

  • Dual fuel  where you get both your gas and electricity from the same supplier

  • Green tariffs where all or some of the energy you use is matched by the supplier purchasing energy from renewable sources

  • Online tariffs where your account is online only with no paper billing

  • Capped tariffs – here the cost of energy is not fixed but there is a guarantee that the price won't go over a certain level during a fixed period of time. This means you won't have to pay over that level but you could potentially benefit if prices go down.

These exist alongside what’s known as a ‘standard variable’ tariff, which is a supplier’s default pricing structure. Find out more in our energy tariffs guide.

Should I switch to a dual tariff?

Dual fuel is where your gas and electricity comes from the same supplier. It can be cheaper to buy it together, but that’s not always the case. Most people opt for dual fuel deals because of the price, but it also makes life a lot easier – only one supplier to deal with, and one set of paperwork.

With 57 suppliers who provide both gas and electricity, and seven solely supplying gas and five electricity, there’s lots to choose from. You can swap suppliers for your gas or your electricity or both to get the best value deal.

Is it more complicated to switch gas and electricity together?

Switching dual fuel is no more complicated than switching one energy type on its own (and that’s simple when you use comparethemarket.com).

When it comes to searching for quotes, just choose the option‘gas and electricity’ if you want to focus on dual fuel.

It helps if you have both your latest gas and electricity bill to hand, because the answers to the questions we’ll ask you, will be in there. If you don’t have one, then don’t worry, we can still run a search based on estimations.

Can I switch gas and electricity if I owe money?

It’s always best to sort out any outstanding bills before the official switch date, otherwise it can make the transition a bit trickier.

When you decide to switch, and have got the ball rolling with your new supplier, you should settle any outstanding debts. If you have bills that are more than 28 days old, you might find that you can’t change supplier until you’ve paid them. But there are some exceptions to the 28 days – for example, if you are less than £200 in debt, then your switch could still go ahead as normal

I'm moving house. How can I switch gas and electricity?

Moving is a great opportunity to reassess your energy deal. If your existing deal is a good one, then it can be carried over to your new home – just tell your supplier the new address and the move in date.

The day you leave your old home, you should take a meter reading and give this to your supplier – that way you can be sure your final bill will only reflect what you’ve used.

When you arrive at your new home, take a meter reading and make a note of it. You’ll need to find out which supplier provides the gas and/or electricity to your new home and give the meter reading to them. That way, you won’t be paying for energy used by the previous owner.

When you speak to the existing supplier in your new home, check what tariff you’ll be put on – in most cases you’ll end up on their ‘standard variable rate’ which is usually their default (and most expensive) tariff.

The one good thing about standard variable tariffs is that they’re flexible and you won’t typically be charged an exit fee for leaving – so, once you’ve settled into your new home, you can do some proper comparing and find a deal that suits you and your wallet. 

Can I switch energy provider if I rent?

Tenants can switch energy provider if they pay the supplier directly for their gas and electricity. Your landlord may have a ‘preferred supplier’ but this doesn’t affect your right to switch.

If your landlord pays your energy bills and then charges you, choosing the supplier is up to them, although you can always ask them to change.

Can I get a smart meter if I switch gas and electricity?

It depends at what stage in their smart meter programme your gas and electricity supplier is. All energy suppliers must aim to install smart meters in every home and small business in England, Wales and Scotland by 2020. Although the initiative was triggered by the government, the rollout is being managed by individual energy companies.

What that means, is that you can get a smart meter if your supplier offers it; or, you can wait until they contact you. You can of course switch supplier in order to get one but you’ll need to make sure it’s really worth switching just to get a piece of fancy tech.

See more about how smart meters work in our guide to smart meters.

I have solar panels, can I switch a feed in tariff too?

Yes, feed-in-tariffs (FITs) can be switched too, but check that the supplier you want to switch to is happy to pay your FIT.

A FIT is where you get paid for generating your own energy as well as getting money for selling back excess electricity to the National Grid. Most big energy suppliers are also FIT licensees – which means they are registered and able to make FIT payments.

The amount of money you are entitled to depends on how much electricity you generate as well as how many solar panels you have. The price is set by industry regulator, Ofgem so switching doesn’t mean getting more money, but it might mean a more efficient service and therefore, swifter payments.

How often do energy prices change?

Energy prices change all the time. They reflect market supply and demand, and fluctuate as a result. They are also affected when wholesale costs change. If you have a standard variable rate tariff, your prices will go up and down with the market.

If you want to know what your prices are going to be for a set period of time, you can choose a fixed rate tariff from your energy providers.

Where do the comparison figures come from?

We use Ofgem’s personal projection calculation to show you what savings you can make. A personal projection is designed to help you understand your current situation and tariff and compare what you’re paying now with other providers in a clear and straightforward way so you can make an informed choice 

How do personal projections work with fixed tariff plans?

Your personal projection will take into account what your energy costs will change to once your fixed tariff – or any other type of fixed energy plan – comes to an end. It will assume that you will be rolled on to a standard variable tariff, the suppliers’ default tariff.

As the personal projection calculation factors the remaining time on your fixed plan and the time you would be on the new plan in the next 12 months, the figures will keep changing.

So if, for example, you are on a fixed plan that ends 31 December 2018 and you compare in June, your personal projection might be £800 for the next 12 months. If you check again in September, the figures will be higher. This is because less time remains on your fixed plan and more on the more expensive standard variable tariff.

Our partner energyhelpline.com puts together available tariffs and works out potential savings. They are accredited by industry regulator Ofgem.

When you find a quote that suits your needs, it’s energyhelpline.com who submits your switch application to the relevant energy supplier (such as British Gas or npower).

How do comparison sites make money?

Each time someone switches their gas or electricity tariff through a comparison site, the site gets paid by the new supplier.

Find out more about how we get paid by energy suppliers.

How else can I save money on energy?

As well as switching supplier, you can try to be more energy efficient at home. Even showering for one minute less can reduce your bills in the long run – find out more of our top energy saving tips.

You can also get help and advice on reducing your energy use and cutting your power bills from these websites:

The government’s energy grants calculator can help work out whether you’re eligible for the Warm Home Discount scheme or Winter Fuel Payment. It can also highlight whether you qualify for any funding to make your home more energy efficient.

The Energy Savings Trust provides advice on renewables (including feed in tariffs), home insulation and energy efficiency.

The Citizens Advice Bureau has general advice and can guide you through the process of making a complaint about your energy provider.

 

Energy snapshot

See what comparethemarket.com customers have been switching to and from, and what customers in different areas have saved in our monthly Energy Snapshot. It also alerts you to tariffs that are expiring soon so you can be ready to switch before you face higher unit rates.