British Gas to offer free electricity at weekendsWill the new British Gas tariff save you money?
01 July 2016
British Gas is launching a new energy deal for smart meter customers that offers free electricity on a Saturday or Sunday. But will the tariff be the best energy deal for you?
Called FreeTime, the new energy tariff allows customers to choose whether they get free electricity between 9am and 5pm on a Saturday or a Sunday. The cost for fuel at any other time will be charged at a standard rate.
The FreeTime tariff is a fixed tariff until March 2018 and you'll need to have a smart meter, which you can get installed for free by British Gas if you're eligible. You can get a quote online to see what you might pay per year.
If you decide to get a quote, we'd recommend putting the same details into Which? Switch, our free energy comparison and switching service, to find out if that is the best energy deal for you.
How good is the British Gas FreeTime energy deal?
British Gas claims this new deal is the cheapest of its dual fuel tariffs, and that people trialing this energy plan shaved £60 off their yearly energy bills.
We got an online quote based on a house in London without a smart meter already installed. Using the average amount of gas (12,500kWh) and electricity (3,100 kWh) used by homes across the UK, we were quoted £1,008.53 per year for a dual fuel bill when paying by monthly direct debit.
When we put the same details into Which? Switch, the cheapest deal was £712.70 for a 12 month fixed tariff. That's £295.83 less than the British Gas one, but would give you security for less time.
This is a very rough guide and the price would vary depending on your circumstances. But it's worth trying our Which? Switch tool and taking a look at our June round up of the best energy deals.
Also keep in mind that fixed tariffs don't always offer the best deal. They do protect you if energy prices rise, but you won't feel the benefits if prices drop. You may also be charged a fee if you decide to leave before the end of the fixed term - in the case of this tariff it's £20.
Smart meters: what you need to know
Smart meters measure your energy use and send the information directly to your supplier using wireless networks. This means no more estimated bills or the need for you to contact your energy company with meter readings. You can also get an in-house display to see your energy use, which could help you reduce your energy usage.
By 2020 the government wants all homes to be fitted with a smart meter, which will replace your existing gas and electricity meters. Your energy supplier should organise and pay for the meter to be fitted, so you won't need to do anything.
Although this means the smart meter is free for you, energy bills could rise in the future as energy companies absorb the estimated 11 billion cost of this roll-out.
There are some situations that could make fitting a smart meter tricky or impossible, such as if your current meter isn't easily accessible or if you have no wireless networks. You can get a pre-installation visit to check this.
Read more about smart meters, how the roll-out is happening and what it means for you in our guide to smart meters.