A simples guide

What should you consider when switching energy supplier?

For some people, switching energy supplier can make an awful lot of sense. Before jumping onto a new tariff however, it’s a good idea to spend a few moments considering what it is you’re looking for in your new deal.

To start with, what type of tariff is it you’re looking for? There are a number of different types to choose from.

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Variable tariffs

If you’ve never switched, the chances are you’ll be on a variable tariff. This is your supplier's 'default' tariff. It will have prices that can go up and down with the market at the supplier’s discretion.

While you have flexibility with this type of tariff, the downside is that the price you’re paying for your gas and electricity may be higher than other tariffs.

Fixed energy tariffs

These are tariffs that offer guaranteed standing charges and unit rates, usually until a defined end date. The end date is often made clear in the title of the tariff and helps differentiate between some of the other tariffs available.

Some fixed tariffs may have an exit fee if you leave before your contract end date. With others you may be free to leave at any time. Even if there is a fee, it is may be small in comparison to savings that could be made by switching – so it’s always worth reviewing.

Fixed price tariffs do what their name suggests and fix your energy price over a period of time. In theory the downside is that you’d not benefit from any reduction in unit prices but you could also be protected from price rises.

The price of fixed price deals could also be significantly lower than the standard rate.

Bear in mind that these tariffs fix the unit prices of the energy you use, they don’t fix the total amount you pay! That depends on how much energy you use so keep this in mind when you’re budgeting.

Dual fuel tariffs

A dual fuel energy tariff provides gas and electricity from the same supplier. Not only can dealing with just one energy company make your life easier, but the cheapest plans can sometimes be those that combine the supply of both utilities.

Online energy tariffs

With an online energy tariff, you manage your account via the internet. In return, the supplier may offer a discount to your gas or electricity price. You will also be asked to send meter readings online and will receive 'paperless' bills by email rather than a bill through the post.

Pre-Payment Tariffs

These are tariffs for people with prepayment meters and they allow customers to pay in advance for their gas and electricity. They do this by 'topping-up' their meter using prepay tokens, cards or a key.

'Green' energy tariffs

A 'green' tariff can mean a couple of different things. Either the supplier will promise to match your usage with generation from renewable sources of energy, or it may offer to contribute towards an environmental scheme on your behalf.

Aside from the tariff, price is probably the single biggest reason to switch. If you have your bill to hand when you use our comparison service, we’ll show you exactly what you could save based on your previous energy usage. This can help to give you the peace of mind that you’re making the right decision.

On average, our customers are saving £461**a year by switching energy suppliers, that’s a massive 35% saving on their previous average energy costs.

Other things to check include looking at how long you’re tied to any deal. While as we’ve noted, exit fees are typically modest in the scheme of things, you may want to take into account the length of period that you’re fixing your energy prices for.

Comparing prices really is simple. Visit our comparison service now to see what you could save on your energy prices.

**461.23 was the average annual comparethemarket.com customer saving from energy supply switches from January to April 2016