Getting a better deal on your home energy bill
The cost of living is rising as a whole, but utilities – particularly electricity and gas – seem to be increasing at a far quicker rate than other bills such as water, groceries and your television licence.
Although we can’t control the price rises that energy companies decide to pass onto us, you can still get a better deal on your electricity or gas bill by implementing a few of our top tips.
1. Shop around
Our number one piece of advice when it comes to lowering your energy bill is to shop around. Unfortunately utility companies are one area where loyalty doesn’t pay: firms rely on long-term customers to make bigger profit margins. This is because they use their best deals and discounts to attract new customers, then gradually increase the cost of your tariff year on year. If you don’t pay attention to what you’re paying out (which is easy to do if you’re a direct debit customer) then you could find yourself paying over the odds for your gas or electricity.
2. Use both price comparison sites and manual searches
A price comparison website is a good start when it comes to checking out different energy tariffs. It might be worth performing a few searches on different websites as some comparison sites may have exclusive deals on offer with particular providers. If you find out that your tariff is cheaper with another company, don’t be frightened to call up your existing provider and ask them to price match your current tariff.
Even if a price comparison search reveals you’re with the cheapest electricity firm for your needs, it’s still worth contacting them and seeing if there is something they can do to lower your tariff. As mentioned above, most of the best deals are advertised to new customers but they could still be opened up to existing customers if you ask what can be done.
3. Approach your energy supplier directly
We would advise you only to go directly to your current provider when looking for a tariff quote. A price comparison is the better route for new providers as the competitive market forces companies to offer their best deals and you can often get an exclusive cashback offer from the website as a thank you for taking out a deal through their website; it’s in the interest of the comparison company for you to place your business via them.
4. Compare dual fuel and separate tariffs
If you have both gas and electricity in your home, it’s worth investigating dual fuel and separate deals for your energy needs. Usually, dual fuel tariffs tend to offer better value because providers are keen to gain your custom for both utilities, however you might just find a cheap rate for one or the other that makes it more lucrative to pay for them separately.
Once you have found a better deal, lock yourself into it for as long as possible! This might seem to go against our earlier advice, but sticking with the same provider is only a bad thing if your deal lapses and you fail to renegotiate a cheap tariff.
5. Look out for long-term price freezes
As prices are likely to continue to rise, look out for providers offering price freezes for more than a year as this will save you encountering a nasty shock when next winter comes around. A price freeze type tariff might not necessarily be the cheapest option up front, however it’s worth calculating the cost of it during the length of the deal versus how much you’ll save by being on the cheaper deal for a shorter period; it could work out that slow and steady does indeed win the race.
6. Choose direct debit instead of quarterly
Once you’ve chosen the tariff and got the best deal, now comes the payment plan. Although sometimes paying by direct debit doesn’t work in your favour, often in the case of utility bills it does. By committing yourself to monthly instalments you are indicating you will be able to afford to meet your bills – there is a flight risk with quarterly or bi-annual customers. This means that providers could offer you a better tariff rate or discount if you agree to pay by monthly direct debit.
Even if you’ve been with the same energy company for years, there really isn’t anything to worry about when it comes to switching. The product you are purchasing and the service you receive is very similar between firms, so you probably won’t notice any difference except for a change of logo at the top of your energy statements, and the only inconvenience it will cause is having to take a meter reading when you switch providers.