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17 Sep 2021

Energy prices are rising: here's how to find a cheap energy deal

Gas and electricity will cost more for 15 million homes next month. Avoid the price hike by following our tips
Woman looking at her watch

The price cap on out-of-contract energy tariffs is rising by its biggest ever amount on 1 October. If you're on a standard tariff, it means you need to take action now to switch provider to avoid a price hike.

Cheap deals are dwindling - so much so that some commercial comparison sites closed their energy comparison services on Friday 17 September citing a lack of available deals.

That doesn't mean the deals aren't there, though. There are still a few to be found, provided you know where to look.

Often the cheapest deals are sold directly through providers. So to save you trawling through all of their websites, use our free switching service Which? Switch - it will show you the whole market. You might find you then have to contact the supplier directly, but you can do so knowing it's the best on the market for you.

While soaring gas prices mean you're unlikely to find a deal as cheap as we've seen in the past, it's still worth running a comparison to make sure you're not overpaying - especially if you're on an out-of-contract tariff that will be hit by October's price cap rise.

Switching energy provider can save around £68 per year, plus help you dodge a £139-a-year bill increase. Use Which? Switch to find the cheapest deal.

When to change energy company

The change in the price cap means that energy companies can raise their price-capped deals on 1 October - and many have announced that they will.

These price-capped tariffs are also called standard or default deals. The increase will depend on how you pay, and how much gas and electricity you use.

If you've not changed your energy tariff for a while, you may have been moved onto a default tariff from a fixed one when the contract finished.

It takes about three weeks to switch energy company, so now's the time to start if you want to beat the price hike.

Choosing your new supplier or tariff online can take as little as 10 minutes - the rest of the work is down to your energy company.

How long does it take to switch energy company?

Woman looking at an energy bill in a kitchen

Some companies promise to complete your switch within 21 days. These are firms signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee and include British Gas, Bulb, EDF Energy, Eon, Octopus Energy and Shell Energy.

But the average switching time across all companies is:

  • 18 days for gas
  • 16 days for electricity.

That's according to energy regulator Ofgem and doesn't include the 14-day cooling-off period where you can still change your mind.

Get the full list of companies signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee in our step-by-step guide to how to switch energy supplier.

Which energy companies are raising prices?

hand getting cash out of wallet

Since the price cap increase was announced by Ofgem in August, the following big firms have announced that they are raising the prices of their default tariffs by the maximum allowed this autumn:

  • British Gas
  • EDF Energy
  • Eon
  • Scottish Power
  • SSE.

Bulb also said that it would increase prices, along with smaller firms Green, Igloo Energy, Nabuh Energy and Zebra Power.

Utility Warehouse announced an increase, but of up to 5% below the maximum allowed.

If your provider is going to increase its prices, it must give you 30 days' notice.

Besides price, see the best and worst energy companies, according to customers.

Five tips for switching energy supplier this autumn

The majority of people find switching easy. Some 86% of people who'd switched energy supplier in the past year said it was straightforward.*

Follow our tips to get the best quote and help the process go smoothly:

  • Use your last year's energy use (in kilowatt hours) to get the most accurate quote. Many websites will let you estimate based on your house size . But this won't be as accurate and might imply you can save more (or less) than the reality. Find your usage on your latest energy statement or online account.
  • Consider how you payPaying by direct debit is typically cheaper than a prepayment meter or paying when you receive a bill.
  • Pick a fixed tariff for price security Fixed tariffs usually last for 12 or 24 months, during which the rates (for each unit of gas and electricity you use) can't change. But if you use more energy, you can still pay more.
  • Go paperless If you'd be happy looking at your bills online, opt out of paper statements as these can cost extra.
  • Check for exit fees before you switch. Firms often charge £30 per fuel to leave a fixed deal before the end of the contract. Your statement should say whether your current deal has exit fees. You can leave in the last 49 days fee-free.

Ready to get started? See more tips to make sure you get the best energy deal

*Online survey of 7,203 members of the Great British general public in September 2020, of which 3,168 had switched energy supplier in the last four years.

A £68 saving is based on the difference between the cheapest available tariff and the current price cap, based on a household using a medium amount of gas and electricity (12,000kWh and 2,900kWh, respectively), paying by fixed direct debit with paperless bills.

Data is from Energylinx and correct on 31 August 2021. Prices are averaged across regions and rounded to the nearest whole pound. Savings will be greater when the new price cap takes effect.