Tips and advice to help you through the energy crisis.
Why are energy bills so high?
Wholesale gas prices soared during the energy market crisis, and suppliers passed those costs onto customers. The increase in wholesale energy prices also led to some suppliers going bust and their customers being moved to other providers – potentially on a more expensive tariff than they were previously paying.
However, the Energy Price Cap set by Ofgem and the government's Energy Price Guarantee, introduced in October 2022, prevented suppliers from raising prices past a certain point. Under the guarantee, a typical household on a standard variable tariff (SVT) will pay up to £2,500 on their bills – less than the planned price cap. The £2,500 guarantee was extended until the end of June 2023 in the March 2023 Budget.
But this doesn’t mean this is the maximum you’ll pay. The guarantee caps the price suppliers can charge for units of gas and electricity, so the size of your bill depends on how much energy you use, where you live and how you pay. If you use more than the average household you'll pay more than the price guarantee figure in total.
After June, prices will revert to being set by the Energy Price Cap, which is set every three months.
How is the Energy Price Guarantee applied?
You don't need to apply for the guarantee – your supplier will organise it automatically. If you get an email or text telling you to apply – ignore it, it's a scam.
For customers on a pre-payment meter, the guarantee is applied to the rate you pay for each unit of energy, so the money you put on the meter will last longer than would otherwise have been the case. There's no need to apply for vouchers.
From 1 July 2023, customers on pre-payment meters who currently pay more for each unit of electricity compared with direct debit customers will be compensated through the EPG scheme for the higher cost of their energy. This means from 1 July, a typical customer on a pre-payment meter will pay the same amount as an equivalent customer on direct debit until 31 March 2024, saving around £45 a year on energy bills.
Can I switch to a better deal?
Suppliers previously offered cheaper fixed tariffs. But the crisis in the energy market means there are few good deals to take advantage of and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find a fixed deal that’s cheaper than the current capped standard rate. So while you might think it’s a good idea to compare energy deals and switch, it’s probably better to hold off for now. However, we’re monitoring the market and hope to help support your financial decision making soon.
How to save on your energy bills in the home
We’ve put together some tips on how to keep costs down and help you save money in the current market.
Can I compare gas and electricity?
The current situation is that there are few, if any, deals that are cheaper than the price guarantee, so switching is unlikely to save you money at the moment. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau and Energy Saving Trust are advising that it’s probably best to stay with your current provider too. For this reason, you can’t currently compare domestic energy with us. Once this situation changes, we’ll be here to help you find cheap energy deals again.
You can also get energy saving advice and information on government home-energy grants from:
What our expert says...
"Soaring energy costs are making life extremely difficult for many households. It’s important to be aware that if you’re really struggling you need to seek help. Don’t hesitate to contact your energy supplier to see if you’re eligible for help with your energy bills and also check your eligibility for benefits than can help with the bills."
- Sofia Hutson, Utilities expert
Compare business energy
You can still compare business energy with us. Simply answer a few questions and our trusted partner, business energy experts Bionic, will do all the legwork, including arranging the switch for you.Compare business energy
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What support is available if I’m struggling with my energy bills?
All energy suppliers must have plans in place to help customers who can’t afford to pay their bills. Ofgem rules mean suppliers must offer payment plans you can afford, and you can ask for ‘emergency credit’ if you use a prepay meter and can’t top up. If you’re having difficulties, contact your energy supplier as soon as possible.
See our guide on what to do if you can’t afford your energy bills.
The government is continuing to offer a package of support measures to help households with rising energy bills and the cost of living. This runs through to spring 2024 and includes:
- Three cost of living payments totalling £900 for people on means-tested benefits, paid in spring and autumn 2023 with the final payment in spring 2024.
- An extra £300 payment for pensioners on top of the Winter Fuel Payment in winter 2023/24.
- £150 disability payment during summer 2023.
- A £1 billion Household Support Fund with help available via local councils.
You should also check that you’re receiving any benefits you’re entitled to, including the Winter Fuel Payment and Warm Home Discount. See all the available government support to help with the cost of living.
Why switch gas and electricity providers?
There are several reasons to compare energy and consider switching your supplier:
Getting a better deal
Comparing energy suppliers each year can potentially save you hundreds on the cost of your gas and electricity. Comparethemarket is constantly monitoring the energy market and we hope to help with your financial decision making again soon.
You may be unhappy with the service provided by your supplier.
You might want a supplier that uses more renewable energy.
Whatever your reason, only Comparethemarket customers get rewarded for switching by getting a year of Meerkat Meals & Meerkat Movies and 25% off Caffè Nero barista-made coffee and pastries*. (Conditions apply)
Can I save money by switching energy suppliers?
Regularly switching your energy supplier was a great way to save on your monthly bills. But the energy market is highly volatile at the moment so it may not be a good idea to switch right now.
Comparethemarket will help you compare energy again as soon as we can.
Gas and electricity, or renewable energy?
You can easily consider what’s important to you, and the pros and cons of the available options.
Dual Fuel (gas and electricity)
Some people like the ease of getting gas and electricity from one supplier, especially as this can often be the cheapest option. Your priority may be simply to opt for the most cost-effective deal you can get or perhaps the longest fixed-price deal for more certainty – even if that means separate suppliers of gas and electricity, and dealing with two separate bills. Learn more
For an increasing number of people, the impact of climate change is becoming clearer and preventing it is more of a priority. If your energy search is driven by finding greener solutions to reduce your carbon footprint, you can look at providers who specialise in wind, solar or other renewable sources to offset their carbon usage. It’s harder to find green gas as the UK doesn’t yet produce enough, and renewable energy isn’t always the cheapest option. But prices become more competitive as the market grows. Learn more
Can I compare gas and electricity separately?
Of course, while dual fuel is a popular way to keep your energy bundled together, you can get gas and electricity from different providers.
Frequently asked questions
How often do energy prices change?
Energy prices change all the time. They reflect market supply and demand, and fluctuate as a result. They're also affected when wholesale costs change.
If you want to know what your unit rates are going to be for a set period of time, you can choose a fixed rate tariff from your energy suppliers.
The new Energy Price Guarantee caps costs so a typical household will pay no more than an average of £2,500 annually for their energy bills. It lasts until the end of June 2023. The next Ofgem Energy Price Cap will be announced towards the end of May with any changes taking effect from 1 July 2023. This will become the new top limit that can be charged from then.
What information do I need to switch energy supplier?
Under normal circumstances, it’s easy to compare with us. To give you an accurate quote, we’ll need to know:
- The name of your current supplier and tariff name
- How much energy you use (in kWh or pounds)
You should find this on a recent bill or in your online energy account. If you can’t find the information you need, we can still give you a quote based on estimated usage. Read our guide to understanding your energy bill.
Will my gas and electricity be interrupted if I switch?
No, your gas and electricity supply will carry on as normal when you switch energy suppliers. The only thing that changes is where your bills come from.
What is the difference between fixed and variable-rate tariffs?
Fixed-rate tariffs – the unit cost is fixed and will stay the same for an agreed length of time.
Variable tariffs – the unit cost can go up or down in line with changes in the wholesale energy market.
Find out more in our energy tariffs guide.
Is it easier to switch gas and electricity together?
Switching dual fuel or switching one energy type on its own are both simple when you use Comparethemarket. The only potential complication would be if you are on a fixed-term contract that hasn’t yet expired, as you may have to pay an exit penalty.
When switching is possible again, it will help if you have both your latest gas and electricity bill to hand, because the answers to the questions we’ll ask you will be there. If you don’t have a bill, then don’t worry, we’ll be able to run a search based on estimations.
Can I switch energy supplier if I owe money?
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’re on a prepayment meter and you have debts of up to £500 on gas and £500 on electricity. The supplier you switch to will take on the debt and you will repay them instead.
I'm moving home. How can I switch gas and electricity?
If you’re moving and your existing deal is a good one, it can be carried over to your new home – just tell your supplier the new address and the move-in date.
On moving day, take a meter reading before you leave and give this to your supplier – that way you can be sure your final bill will only reflect what you’ve used.
Be sure to also take a meter reading at your new home so you won’t be paying for energy used by the previous owner.
See more on moving home and changing your gas or electricity suppliers.
Can I switch energy provider if I rent?
Tenants can switch energy providers if they pay the supplier directly for their gas and electricity.
If your landlord pays your energy bills then charges you, choosing the supplier is up to them, although you can always ask them to change to get cheaper gas and electricity.
Can I get a smart meter if I switch gas and electricity?
It depends on what stage your gas and electricity supplier is at in their smart meter programme. The rollout is being managed by individual energy companies. You can ask your current supplier for a smart meter and they will let you know if it is possible to get one and when. Make sure any tariff you are switching to is right for you – and in the past there have been some beneficial tariffs for smart meter users.
See more about how smart meters work in our guide to smart meters.
How can I find a green energy supplier?
When you can compare with us again, you’ll be able to choose to see tariffs for 100% renewable electricity.
See more on renewable energy.
Can I still apply for a feed-in-tariff?
No, feed-in-tariffs (FITs) are no longer available and have been replaced by the Government’s Smart Export Guarantee.
What is the Smart Export Guarantee?
The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) replaced the feed in tariff (FIT). Like the FIT, it pays you for electricity you generate from renewable sources (like wind and solar) that you don’t use. But unlike the FIT, the energy company you supply to decides the prices, rather than Ofgem – so it’s worth shopping around to find the best deal. The company you supply to doesn’t have to be the same one that supplies your energy.
Where do the energy price comparison figures come from?
When you are able to compare with us again, we’ll show you a list of tariffs with potential savings. These are based on Ofgem’s personal projection calculation, which predicts what your energy costs would be for the next year if you stayed with your current provider and tariff. It enables you to compare what you’re paying now with other providers, so you can make an informed choice.
How do personal projections work with fixed tariff plans?
A personal projection estimates what you might pay over the next 12 months, based on your past energy consumption. If you’re coming to the end of a fixed-tariff deal, it’ll take into account the change in price if you move onto the supplier’s variable tariff, so your estimated personal projection might be higher.
How do energy 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 – you don't need to pay anything to the comparison site for your switch.
Find out more about how we get paid by energy suppliers.