How to cut energy costs Getting the best energy deal
There are plenty of things you can do to cut how much energy you actually use - such as turning your thermostat down and using low-energy light bulbs - visit our guide to using less electricity for more tips.
But one of the easiest ways to cut your energy bills is to make sure you on the cheapest deal in the first place. Choosing the right tariff could save you hundreds of pounds a year.
Cheapest gas and electricity
Don't pay more than you have to for gas and electricity. You can compare gas and electricity prices to find the cheapest deal on the market using our independent switching service Which? Switch. And because Which? is a not-for-profit organisation, any money made by Which? Switch helps fund our campaigning.
To switch supplier, see www.which.co.uk/switch or call 01992 822867. Customers who have used Which? Switch saved an average of £217 a year.
How to compare energy prices
The more information you give a price comparison service, the more accurate your saving quote will be. Use these tips to make sure you're offered the very best deal for you.
1Find out how much energy you use
Use your annual statement from your energy supplier or your last year's worth of bills to find out the name of the tariff(s) you're on and how much gas and electricity (kWh) you use.
Figures from your annual bill will get you the most accurate results when searching, but if you're not able to find this out you can estimate your usage. See our guide to estimating how much energy you use.
2Compare gas and electricity prices
Once you've given a comparison site your information, you'll be able to compare the deals available to you - online tariffs are generally cheaper, and getting your gas and electricity from the same supplier via a dual fuel deal will usually earn you a discount.
3Fixed or capped tariffs?
You could consider signing up to a fixed or capped tariff to protect yourself from future price rises - but they're likely to be more expensive at first. Take a look at our guide to energy tariffs and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
4Check terms and conditions
Before you switch energy supplier, check the terms and conditions and be aware of exit fees that may apply if you leave the tariff within a set period.
In a telesales investigation we ran in August and November 2011 we weren't told about the exit fees that applied to the tariffs we were recommended in a third of the calls we made - so if you are speaking to an energy supplier over the phone you should ask explicitly about exit fees. Find out more about the best way to switch in our guide to switching energy supplier.
5Change how you pay to save
You can get a discount off your energy bills if you pay by monthly direct debit. The amount you pay each month will be worked out by your gas or electricity supplier based on the amount of energy you use or are likely to use in each year, divided by twelve. Take a look at our guide to paying your energy bill by direct debit for more tips on keeping your payments in check.
If you don't want to set up a direct debit and prefer to pay by cash or cheques, some companies offer a discount for paying your bill promptly. It is worth asking your supplier if it offers this.
Keep your bills in check
Whether you've just switched or not, there are things you can do to keep your bills accurate and stop you being overcharged.
6Give regular meter readings
Make sure you give regular meter readings to your supplier to make sure you're being charged for the energy you're actually using rather than an estimate.
Take a look at our guide to understanding your bill to make sure you're paying the right amount.
7Avoid being overcharged
- If your energy company raises prices, read your meter on the day the rise takes affect, so you get the lower price for the maximum period you can.
- If your bills are based on an estimated reading, then regularly check them against your own meter readings. If different, contact your supplier.
- Question direct debit changes. If you do not agree with the proposed changes, contact your energy company and ask for further clarification. Remember that it's normal to be in credit in the summer.
- If you are disproportionately in credit, ask for a refund.
- If there are going to be changes to your direct debit a supplier must tell you at least 10 working days before it’s debited - either by a separate letter or email, or as a note on your bill. If it doesn’t, complain and ask for compensation. You can also make a claim under the Direct Debit Guarantee.
See our five tips to avoid your energy company overcharging for more information.