Avoid poor-value energy monitor tariffs Better to buy an energy monitor separately

22 December 2010

Switch energy tariffs just to get a free energy monitor and you could end up paying over £150 more than you need to, according to Which? research.

The cheapest ‘free energy monitor’ tariffs from Southern Electric and British Gas both cost over £1,100 a year*, but you could save over £150 by choosing a £913 a year online deal from First Utility and buying a Best Buy energy monitor for £35.

Energy monitor researcher Hazel Cottrell commented: ‘An energy monitor can help you cut your bills, but be careful if you are thinking of switching to an energy tariff just to get a free one. In many cases you could save more money by switching to the cheapest online deal and buying an energy monitor separately.

‘To find the cheapest energy deals available to you, head to Which? Switch. To make the biggest savings, manage your bills online and pay by Direct Debit.’

Energy meter infographic

Southern Electric and British Gas

Not only were Southern Electric and British Gas ‘free energy monitor’ tariffs considerably more expensive than the cheapest online deal from First Utility, they were also more expensive than their own cheapest online deals.

Southern Electric’s iplan was £123 more expensive than its cheapest Go Direct 5 tariff, and British Gas’ OnlineSaver 3 was £68 more expensive than its WebSaver 10 tariff.

Npower and Eon

Npower and Eon offer free monitors on all online tariffs and their cheapest deals were good value when we checked – so these are worth considering.

Hazel Cottrell advised: ‘The energy monitor that Eon is offering has some great features - to find out more, see our full Current Cost EnviR energy monitor review. Existing Eon customers should definitely request one if they can.’

‘However, Npower’s energy monitor didn’t perform brilliantly in our tests – read our Npower Smartpower review before you decide whether this is best for you.’

Visit our energy monitors review to find out which monitors we rate as Best Buys and to find out more about energy monitor features and how we test. You can also watch our video of an energy monitor and smart meter in action.

*Prices based on average home in Yorkshire. Prices were checked early December 2010 and assume payment by monthly Direct Debit.

Lower your gas and electricity bills

You can compare energy prices and switch to a new gas and electricity supplier on Which? Switch. People who switched with us between 1 October and 31 December 2013 are predicted to save an average of £234 a year on their bills.

Which? RSS and Twitter news feeds

For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? consumer news RSS feed. If you have an older web browser you may need to copy and paste http://www.which.co.uk/feeds/news.xml into your newsreader.

Follow @WhichNews on Twitter for the latest news, or @WhichAction to see how we're campaigning for consumers.