Hundreds of thousands of homes nationwide are still hugely overpaying on their energy bills. Why is this, you may ask. Nobody really knows exactly, but maybe they don’t know that they can switch their tariff. Maybe people think that it would be way too much hassle for such little gain. That is simply just not true. Even if it were ‘lots of hassle’, which it definitely is not, it would still be worth it. Switching your energy tariff, especially if you have never switched before, can save you hundreds of pounds per year, some people even saving as high as £600 in one year. This could be you. So what are you waiting for? Read this guide and you’ll have everything you need to start the savings ball rolling.
How much will I save?
No one case is the same when switching energy tariffs: each circumstance is completely different, considering variables such as: location; switch frequency; payment method; meter type; tariff type; and much more.
Location is a very important one here. Due to regional distribution network charges and other factors, such as generation efficiency, energy suppliers are forced to adapt their pricing accordingly to make up for certain static costs. As such, you may find that EDF Energy prices, for example, are more expensive in certain areas of the country.
Another thing to bear in mind is certain discounts that many suppliers will offer. The three most common are: ‘dual fuel’, which means you contract your gas and electricity through the same tariff; ‘paperless billing’, which means that all your bills will be stored on your suppliers online user portal, allowing you to access your bills online with no letters needed; and ‘direct debit payment’, which means that your bills will be automatically be paid out of your account, rather than your supplier having to chase you up about payment on receipt.
What information do I need
Pretty much nothing. Most suppliers can now switch you over to a new tariff with nothing but your name, address and bank details. That said, it is still useful for you to have some extra information for you to see how much you are set to save when switching. If you head to any comparison tool, enter your postcode and your usage information, you’ll be able to see exactly how much you are going to save per year (based on your estimates).
How long will it take?
Once you have handed all your information over to the comparison or switching service, which will take around 5 minutes, your job is over. You can leave everything else up to your switcher. This could be the energy supplier, a comparison engine or any other service you have chosen. The actually switching process will take no longer than 21 days. By law, this is the total maximum time a switch can take. That said, in the majority of cases, a tariff switch, inter-supplier or externally, will generally take around 17 days, some even less. After this point, you will have an additional 14 days in which you can change your mind about the service you have signed up for. This is your right as a consumer in the UK to be able to change your mind about the product you have received.
How to make the switch
Switching your energy tariff has never been more simple. All it takes is a click of a few buttons or a few minutes on the phone. There is a huge number of comparison engines to choose from nowadays, the most popular of which include Uswitch and Selectra. When using these services you should first put in your postcode, then follow through the information that they require from you, such as usage amounts and payment method.
After you have entered your information, you will be provided with a variety of tariffs that are available to you in order of cheapest to most expensive. You may be tempted to just dive straight into the cheapest tariff and have done with it; however, there are a couple more things to take into consideration:
- Fixed or variable
- Contract length
- Exit fees
- Customer service ratings
- Renewable mix
- Standing charge