Energy deals are getting pricier and there are more of them which lock you into a long-term pricey contract, exclusive Which? research reveals. But you can still switch to save money before winter if you know where to look.
The price of the cheapest gas and electricity deal has risen £25 since last month, and so the amount you can save by switching has shrunk by the same amount.
Meanwhile the number of very expensive energy deals, costing more than £1,200 per year for a medium user, has quadrupled in the past month.
British Gas’ latest price hike, its second of the year, took effect a couple of days ago, and Scottish Power’s will follow next week.
But against all this you can still save up to £378 in a year by switching from a costly Big Six standard variable tariff to the cheapest on the market – a saving worth having to put towards your winter energy bills.
Read on for the cheapest energy deals and join the increasing numbers of people who are switching supplier. Or find the best deal for you by comparing gas and electricity prices with Which? Switch.
You can call us on 0800 410 1149 or 01259 220235.
Cheapest gas and electricity tariffs
We’ve listed the five cheapest dual-fuel energy deals for October for medium users below. You can use this as a guide to what you would expect to spend each year but the exact cost depends on how much gas and electricity you use.
The prices below are annual. We’ve named the tariff, plus how much it would save someone who uses a medium amount of gas and electricity compared with SSE and Scottish Power’s standard variable tariffs (respectively the cheapest and most expensive of the Big Six firms).
Once again the cheapest tariffs are from smaller suppliers. All of these five should save you at least £241 in a year if you’re switching from the standard tariff of a Big Six supplier. See whether you should switch to a smaller supplier, according to their customers, in our advice guide.
The fifth-cheapest deal available across England, Scotland and Wales is from Which? Recommended Provider Octopus Energy. The other four companies were too small for us to rate in our most recent survey.
See the best and worst energy companies, according to customers.
Where are the cheap energy deals?
This month’s cheapest dual-fuel deal is £25 pricier per year than September’s cheapest energy deal.
It’s not unusual that the cheapest energy deals are on sale in the summer months. You don’t have your heating on, you’re using less energy, so there’s less demand and prices can be lower.
When temperatures drop there’s much more demand for energy, it gets pricier for companies to buy, and so far this year most of the big energy companies have increased their prices. Some have raised prices twice, explaining that wholesale costs have increased.
But if you weren’t thinking about your bills while the sun was shining, there’s still time to switch and save before winter.
If you’re on one of the Big Six companies’ standard variable tariffs – the default you’ll be on if you haven’t switched deal or supplier – you could save £378 per year by switching to the cheapest tariff on the market.
This is slightly less than last month (£403) but £32 more than this time last year. That’s because companies’ price rises mean that the most expensive tariffs cost more than they did a year ago.
Pricey fixed tariffs
Though prices are rising, it doesn’t mean you should tie yourself into an expensive energy deal.
Our research has found 26 fixed deals on sale which would cost the medium user more than £1,200 per year. The cheapest deal at the moment costs less than £900 per year for the same amount of gas and electricity.
In September there were just six fixed deals costing more than £1,200 per year.
Plus, 11 of these deals are contracts for two years or longer. One tariff from First Utility is a five-year deal, costing £1,332 per year for the medium user.
It’s the fourth most-expensive of 246 deals currently on sale and costs £196 more per year than the government’s proposed price cap. But the price cap won’t reduce the price of this deal. That’s because it’s not a default tariff – one you’re put onto automatically – and you have to choose to switch to this deal.
It’s tempting to choose a fixed-term energy deal to ensure that the amount you pay doesn’t unexpectedly increase. But a fixed deal also means that you’ll pay a higher rate if prices drop.
Plus our recent research found that, over the past three years, you would have been better off switching every year to a one year fixed deal rather than fixing your prices for three years.
Best time to switch energy supplier
More people have switched energy firm this summer than the previous two years, new data from energy trade association Energy UK reveals. Previously the most popular months to switch gas and electricity company have been October, November, December and March, based on data stretching back to January 2015.
Summer has been a much less popular time to switch. But this year more people switched energy supplier in June, July or August than did so in March. Switching levels have stayed steady since February.
Before you switch, make sure you compare gas and electricity prices, using your annual consumption figures, to get the best deal for you.
Which? energy pricing research
Prices are based on a dual-fuel tariff available in all regions in England, Scotland and Wales paying by monthly direct debit, with paperless bills. Energy usage is based on Ofgem’s annual average figures for a medium user (12,000kWh gas and 3,100kWh electricity). Data is from Energylinx. Prices given are averages across regions, are rounded to the nearest whole pound and correct on 1 October 2018.