Now's the moment to sort your energy bills, so the cheap price's in place before winter hits - especially as prices have been rising. So today we launch our 5th MSE collective switch - available until 3 Oct. That's where a trusted intermediary (eg, a council or us) gets energy firms to bid to provide special tariffs, and with the weight of 11m email recipients & 2.2m Cheap Energy Club members, ours are a doozy.

Last time we did it, 135,000 switched & we drowned in successes - the biggies include...

Emma: "I switched from Scottish Power to your British Gas collective tariff and saved £1,488/year. It was really easy. Thanks so much."

Stephen: "You saved me £800 a year without switching, with British Gas [ie, he moved from British Gas to our British Gas special deal]. Thank you."

Even if you switched to a cheap fix before, remember once it ends your price could jump by up to 50% as you're moved onto a standard tariff.

  • Are you eligible for Big Switch 5? Ofgem rules now mean we need to pre-register people for collective switches. You need to have been on the distribution list for our weekly email or registered for Cheap Energy Club before 8pm on 12 Sep.

    How can I check I can get it? You can check you're registered or speed straight over to the Cheap Energy Club comparison, and if you can get the collective, it'll be in your results.

    What if I'm not eligible? You can still save big (possibly just not quite as much) - many can still slash £100s/yr off bills. We've seen some of the cheapest deals disappear in recent months though, so act quick and use our Top Picks Comparison to see what you can get.

Martin Lewis
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  • The Cheapest deal (dual fuel). Special British Gas tariff - EVEN IF YOU'RE WITH BRITISH GAS YOU CAN DO IT TOO. It's not often the UK's largest supplier competes on price, but for the 2nd time, British Gas has won our cheapest dual-fuel, direct-debit (so no prepay) tariff auction.

    The MSE British Gas Collective Fix Oct 2017 tariff locks in the rate for a year and saves someone with typical use on a Big 6 standard tariff £300/yr. To get it, you must do a comparison via our link - you can't get it from BG direct.

    And it's not just for switchers to British Gas, EXISTING British Gas (and Sainsbury's Energy) customers are eligible too, which for most is a no-brainer, as it's far cheaper. Plus BG won't charge you exit penalties, even if you're already locked in. The key facts:

    - You also get £30 dual-fuel cashback from Cheap Energy Club.
    - As it's a fix, the rate (not cost, that depends on use) is fixed for 1yr.
    - It's available for dual-fuel only (ie, gas & elec together) incl Eco 7.
    - You must pay by monthly direct debit.
    - Leave early and there's a £40 exit fee.
    - If you move home you can take it with you.
    - The Warm Home Discount is available with this provider.

    How it compares for someone with typical usage
    Avg price on Ofgem typical dual-fuel direct-debit use (varies by region)

    Typical cost: Current avg Big 6 standard tariff: £1,063/yr
    Typical cost: Current British Gas standard tariff: £1,044/yr
    MSE Special: BG fix: £755/yr + £30 cashback, £40 exit fee
    Next cheapest open-market 1yr fix: Eon £760/yr - £30 cashback, £30/fuel exit fee

    Get YOUR EXACT PRICE & saving via a full market comparison

    Ps. This is actually a touch cheaper than at first launch on Tuesday night as Eon then launched the above tariff and BG undercut it. Anyone who signed up to this BG collective before the change will get the lower rate.

    - Good for you if: 1) You want one of the cheapest deals. 2) You're with BG or Sainsbury's & don't want to change firm. 3) You're happy to switch again in 12mths (if not, see the two-year fix below).

    - Not for you if: 1) You only want electricity.

    - How's customer service? British Gas scored 38% 'great' and 31% 'poor' in our May 2016 poll. Yet as part of our collective we've arranged for it to provide boosted customer service resources for our switch, and anecdotal feedback on that (we've not polled) is very positive.

  • Cheapest TWO-WINTER fix (dual fuel / gas-only / elec-only).. SSE - lock in longer to beat possible price hikes. Today's cheapest fix is about 5% higher than in May, indicating upward pressure. So I wanted us to also provide a longer fix, which means you're protected against price hikes for two winters. And it's a good lazy option, as you've longer till you need switch again.

    The 2yr-fix auction winner is the SSE MSE Collective 2-Year Fixed 2016. Someone with typical use on a Big 6 standard tariff will save £220/yr, so that's £440 over 2 years (at current prices). That's a strong deal over the period. It's capped at 150,000 switches but we're unlikely to hit that, so the same 3-week time limit applies as others. The key facts:

    - You get £30 dual-fuel (£15 single fuel) Cheap Energy Club cashback.
    - It's available for dual fuel, gas-only & elec-only, incl Economy 7.
    - Pay monthly direct debit or pricier quarterly cash/cheque/direct debit.
    - Leave early and there's a £30 per fuel exit fee (£60 dual fuel).
    - Existing SSE customers can get it without paying an exit fee.
    - You can't take it with you if you move home.
    - The Warm Home Discount is available with this provider.

    How it compares for someone with typical usage
    Avg price on Ofgem typical dual-fuel direct-debit use (varies by region)

    Typical cost:
    Current avg Big 6 standard tariff: £1,063/yr
    MSE Special: SSE 2yr fix: £838/yr + £30 cashback, £30/fuel exit fee
    Next cheapest 2yr fix: Places for People: £842/yr - no cashback

    Get YOUR EXACT PRICE & saving via a full market comparison

    - Good for you if: 1) You don't like to switch & often forget - with this you won't need to switch again until 2018. 2) You're worried about future price hikes & prefer long-term certainty.

    - Not for you if: 1) You just want the cheapest. 2) You want to switch again without being charged. 3) You're likely to move in the next 2yrs.

    - How's customer service? In our May 2016 poll, SSE scored 53% 'great' and 19% 'poor'. Plus as part of our collective we've arranged for it to provide boosted customer service resources for our switch.

  • Cheapest GREEN tariff. Bulb renewable tariff - and it pays exit fees for you. If you'll pay a touch more for an environmentally friendly provider, don't worry - you can still save massively over standard tariffs. The winner of our green auction, Bulb Green Electricity + Gas MSE Switch Oct 2017, generates 100% of its elec and (a rare) 10% of gas from renewable sources.

    The rate is fixed until 4 Oct 2017 and on typical use saves you £230/yr over a Big 6 standard tariff, and £60/yr over the next best 100% renewable fix. Plus, if you pay exit fees with your current supplier, Bulb is currently offering to refund these (up to £120) as credit on your account. Key facts...

    - You get £30 dual-fuel (£15 single-fuel) Cheap Energy Club cashback.
    - As it's a fix, the rate (not cost, that depends on use) is fixed for 1yr.
    - Everyone who switches gets £10 credit on their Bulb account.
    - It's available for dual fuel, gas-only & elec-only, incl Economy 7.
    - You must pay by monthly direct debit.
    - Bulb charges a higher direct debit during your first winter, so you build up credit.
    - There are no exit fees. Move home and take the tariff with you.
    - The Warm Home Discount is NOT available with this provider.

    How it compares for someone with typical usage
    Avg price on Ofgem typical dual-fuel direct-debit use (varies by region)

    Typical cost: Current avg Big 6 standard tariff: £1,063/yr
    MSE Special: Bulb MSE 1yr fix: £834/yr + £30 cashback + £10 credit
    Next cheapest 100% renewable 12mth fix: LoCO2 Energy: £893/yr

    Get YOUR EXACT PRICE & saving via a full market comparison

    - Good for you if: 1) You will pay a little more for green. 2) You're happy to switch again in a year. 3) You want your exit fees paid.

    - Not for you if: 1) You just want the cheapest price. 2) You're with an independent gas transporter (IGT), as Bulb then charges an extra £8.33/mth (£100/yr). 3) You currently get the Warm Home Discount.

    - How's customer service? Bulb is a small, new supplier, so we've limited feedback on its service, but what we have is good. We have also visited it, checked it can handle the web traffic and it has set up boosted customer service for our switch. Hopefully all good.

  • Cheapest PREPAID tariff - sadly no winner. We tried for a key or card tariff, but no supplier's bid beat the market's best buys, so we wouldn't put our name to it. But use our Cheap Energy Club Comparison to find your cheapest - many can save £150/yr. However, even on them some will still be paying £220/yr more than the cheapest direct-debit deal. See Can I switch to a standard meter?

MSE Big Energy Switch Event 5: British Gas £300/yr saving for new & existing customers
You can choose from 1-year and 2-year fixes and a green energy option

The MSE Big Switch Event 5 FAQs
For more detailed answers, see the full MSE collective FAQs


Q. I'm elec-only - what can I do? Our 2-winter and green tariffs both allow elec-only. Though if you just want the very cheapest deal, our Cheap Energy Club comparison will find your cheapest from the open market; many can save £100s.

Q. Will the collective tariffs always win? Mostly, not always. It depends where you live and usage, which is why we show you a full comparison.

Q. My fix ends soon (incl MSE's Big Switch Event 3), can I do this? Yes, within 49 days of the point your fix ends, your supplier CAN'T charge exit fees.

Q. How does Cheap Energy Club work? When you join, 3 things happen:

1) We show your exact price, saving & compare to ALL market tariffs.
2) You get £30 dual-fuel cashback (£15 single-fuel). Any time we can switch you, you get this - it's sent roughly 60-90 days later.
3) We monitor that it stays cheap. You set a 'trigger saving', eg, £150/yr, then we alert you if you can save this by switching again.

Q. What do I need to switch? A bill - preferably annual - is good, and use kilowatt hours (kWh) rather than cost, if you can. If not, estimate your usage and while the answer won't be perfect, it's usually far better than doing nowt.

Q. Does MSE make money from this? Yes. Like all energy comparison sites, we're paid £60ish/dual-fuel switch & give you £30 as cashback. The rest helps cover our costs and hopefully makes us some profit.

Q. I'm locked into a fix - should I switch? You may as well do a comparison and see if you'll save, factoring in exit fees and the length the fix is protecting you from price hikes.

Q. Who's responsible for these tariffs - MSE or the energy firm? The energy firm is, and you pay it. But we take our bit seriously and ask all providers to set up special help teams. If something goes wrong, and it won't help, let us know and we'll try to help.

Q. Are prices likely to get cheaper or rise? While standard prices are stable now, in the last six months the prices of the cheapest fixes have increased. Of course, this is a global market so anything can happen, but currently the mood music is of prices rising.

More quick FAQs:

Q. I'm in credit - will I get it back if I switch? Yes. See Reclaim credit.
Q. I'm in debt - can I switch? Yes, usually - see Switching in debt help.
Q. Can I switch if I'm renting? Yes. See our renters' switching info.
Q. Can I see the standing charge and kWh costs? They vary by region, so we display YOUR exact cost in the Cheap Energy Club comparison result.
Q. Can I switch if I've solar & a feed-in tariff (FIT)? Yes. Solar & FIT info
Q. I'm on a smart meter. Can I switch? Yes, but you may lose functionality unless you switch from another BG tariff to the BG collective tariff.
Q. Do I keep my Warm Home Discount? It varies - see Warm Home info.
Q. Can I get paper bills? Yes (not Bulb) but for c. £15/yr. See paper bills.
Q. Can I switch if with an independent gas transporter? Yes, see IGT help.
Q. Is paying by direct debit cheapest? Yes, but do regular meter readings.
Q. Can they put my price up on a cheap fix? The rate's fixed, but use more (or if it's estimated you will) & the direct debit can rise. See Fight Unfair Direct Debits.
Q. I live in Northern Ireland - why can't I get it? The NI market is separate. We've an NI energy-saving tool coming soon; we'll launch it in our weekly email.

This article first appeared in our weekly email on 14 September 2016.

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