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Energy deals that never save you money

Were you on a rip-off standard gas or electricity tariff this winter?

A quarter of you (24%) have always been a customer of your current energy supplier. Another fifth (20%) automatically became a customer when you moved house. If this sounds like you, chances are you’re paying more than you need to for your gas and electricity.*

It’s no secret that standard energy tariffs – the tariff you’re probably on if you haven’t actively chosen one – aren’t cheap. Our monthly data-crunching reveals that Big Six customers on a standard tariff are often paying over £200 more than the cheapest deal on the market.

But our latest analysis gives a broader picture of companies’ tariffs over the past two years. And it reveals which firm’s customers have been overpaying the most, for the longest. Scroll down and check our graphic to see if this is you.

Npower and Scottish Power are the worst offenders, with an average difference of £233 and £206 respectively between their standard tariff and cheapest deal each quarter from February 2015 to 2017. While customers on these companies’ cheapest fixed deals can be confident that they’re not overpaying, this comes at the expense of those left languishing on the pricey standard tariffs.

And with five of the six biggest firms having announced price rises on their standard tariffs, you’ll soon be paying even more if you don’t switch.

Don’t stay stuck on a standard tariff. Use our independent energy switching site, Which? Switch, to compare gas and electricity prices and find the best deal.

Check if you’re paying too much for energy

 


British Gas vs Npower: how does your energy supplier compare?

British Gas’s standard tariff is £91 cheaper than it was in winter 2015, and it has frozen the price until August 2017. Its standard tariff is currently the cheapest of the Big Six firms, and its fixed deals are either the same price as its standard tariff or more expensive. So if you’re a British Gas customer, you’ll need to switch supplier if you want to save money.

British Gas does offer a tariff with free energy on either Saturdays or Sundays for customers with smart meters. But how much this will save you depends on whether you can concentrate your energy use on that day. Other firms have deals that would cost less than the £60 average saving British Gas claims this tariff provides.

EDF Energy’s customers on its standard tariff have been at least £100 worse off on average than those on its cheapest deal over the past two years. But this winter, the price of its cheapest deal crept closer to its standard tariff and further away from the cheapest on the market.

The price of Eon’s standard tariff has fallen by around £32 over the past two years – but its price rise, coming in at the end of April, will wipe this out. Eon states that the average dual-fuel bill will then be £1,144 a year, making it the third-priciest Big Six standard tariff. Its cheapest deal has consistently been around £30 a year cheaper than its standard tariff, but its price hike could widen the gap.

Npower’s recent price rise will mean its standard tariff is £44 more expensive than it was two years ago – and the most expensive standard tariff from any of the Big Six. Over the past two years, it has offered some fixed deals that are among cheapest on the market, although our latest data shows that its cheapest deal has jumped in price along with its standard tariff.

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Customers on Scottish Power’s standard tariff have been paying around £120 more on average than those on its cheapest deal since winter 2015.

In winter 2016, standard-tariff customers were overpaying by nearly £300. Although its cheapest deals have been among the best on the market in the past, more recently, they’ve been around £100 more expensive.

SSE is the most recent of the Big Six suppliers to announce a price increase, of 6.9% on average for its dual-fuel standard tariff, effective from 28 April. In the past two years, the annual price of its standard tariff has come down by £33, but the increase will push it £73 higher again. Its cheapest deals swing between being among the best on the market and within a few pounds of its standard tariff.

*Online survey of 8,657 people (general public) in October 2016.

(The prices quoted above are provided by Energylinx, based on the details of a dual-fuel medium customer that uses 12,500kWh of gas and 3,100kWh of electricity a year, pays by monthly direct debit and chooses paperless billing. Prices are averaged across all UK regions.)

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