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Switch your gran!

Help older friends & relatives save £100s on energy

It's a national outrage that many older people with lower incomes and the greatest need for warm homes pay the most for their energy.

Many silver surfers look after themselves, but if you've a gran, gramps, uncle or aunt who isn't so web-savvy - or even if you're just friends with an old chap over the road - why not give them a hand? Here's how...

Please note: We're assuming that if you're reading this, you're online and want to help your gran offline - so throughout we use 'them' instead of 'you'.

Switching is no biggie - help them compare

Fear of change is often a big inhibitor. Yet even those worried about switching can still often cut bills just by switching tariffs with their existing firm.

If the cheapest tariff for your gran is with another firm, then remember it's still the same gas, the same electricity, the same pipes and the same safety. The only real change is the price, and who you call.

For the most accurate comparison, you should have their bills in front of you, so you've got exact usage figures. But it can be done without them, based on estimates of house size.

Our FREE Cheap Energy Club's designed to make it easy

Everyone's cheapest depends on their usage & postcode. Our Cheap Energy Club uses (we hope) plain English to help find your cheapest deal and guide you through the switching process, usually giving £30 dual-fuel cashback if it can switch you.

Our Top Pick Fixes Comparison will run through your bespoke top deals and after that, uniquely, it monitors the tariff to check it's still cheap and tells you once it isn't.

You can also add a second email address to accounts so you could help your gran set up an account, then get her alerts sent to you too. Do it at registration, or on the account details page if she's already a member.

We've been swamped with positive feedback, such as:

Watched the video on the website, saved £160. #boom #evenlazyblokescansavemoney.

Registered and used your Cheap Energy Club. Managed to switch to a fixed-until-2014 deal and saved £85/yr! On top, the deal promises £70 cashback after three months, making my fixed deal less than the cheapest variable deal.

I could not be more pleased. Thank you for creating a clear & easy-to-use comparison. Looking forward to receiving emails if/when I can save more!

Fix prices for long-term surety

Right now some of the cheapest energy deals are fixed tariffs, which lock in the rate you pay for a set time.

Although energy price hikes aren't on the horizon, choosing a fixed-rate tariff will protect you against any future rises as the rate per energy you pay won't change during the fixed term. However if you do go for a long fix, make sure it has no exit penalties, so if politicians do deliver their holy grail of lower bills, you can escape.

Do it by phone if the web's a bother

If online's a no-go, there are some comparison sites which let you switch over the phone:

If you go through MoneySupermarket* you can switch online or on the phone and you'll also get £30 cashback for a dual fuel switch - if you're doing it by phone, call 0800 177 7861 and mention MSE. The cash will be sent by post, so no web access is needed.

uSwitch also lets you switch over the phone on 0800 051 5493, as does Energyhelpline via its call centre on 0800 074 0745 and UKPower on 0800 320 2000.

Check if the tariff is offline

Some energy tariffs are labelled ‘online tariffs’ but you can actually often access them offline. If your gran is offline, check when you do the comparison if you can get bills posted and give meter readings over the phone.

If it really is an online tariff, most suppliers require an email address to create an account. This applies to several of the current top deals including the one from Extra Energy. However, if your gran doesn’t have an email account, you could always set up a free Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo! account for her.

They can either access bills themselves with your help, or you can monitor and print it out for them. You may need to do this for every quarterly bill (four per year) so if they absolutely can't go online, consider this commitment.

To help further, you can also add a secondary email address. This means you can help your gran set up an account and add your email address to it so you'll also get her alerts, and can check them and let her know when it's time to switch.

The table below shows a selection of tariffs which can be applied for and managed offline which can all be found in our Top Picks section of Cheap Energy Club. However with some, such as Ovo and First Utility, you'll be charged extra for paper bills, so always add this to your overall cost when deciding which tariff to go for.

Tariffs with offline access

Tariff name Fixed until Free paper billing? Free account notifications? Meter readings by phone? Available by phone?
First Utility 31 March 16 No - £4/mth extra for dual fuel Yes Yes Yes
E.on 12 months No - £10/yr extra for dual fuel. Yes Yes Yes
Ovo Better Energy* 12 months No - £5/mth extra Yes Yes Yes
EDF Blue+ Price Promise* 31 May 16 Yes Yes Yes Yes
EDF Blue+Fixed Price Jan '17* 31 Jan 17 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Green Star Energy Saver Fixed 12 months Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ovo PAYG Energy Prepayment* 12 months No - £5/mth extra Yes Yes Yes
EDF Blue + Prepayment* 31 Oct 16 Yes Yes Yes Yes
For help with prepay meters, see our Cheap Prepaid Gas and Electricity guide.

Paying by direct debit's cheapest

If they do nothing else, get your gran to set up a monthly direct debit - it's usually around 6% cheaper than any other way of paying (see the Energy Direct Debits guide).

For maximum savings, combine it with:

  • Switching to the cheapest tariff and saving £100s. If you've never switched before, savings of £200+/year are possible if you opt for a cheap tariff.

  • Always give meter readings. Give your supplier regular meter readings and it'll always give you a more accurate bill. If you don't, you may find you're paying for high estimates. Virtually all suppliers allow you to do this over the phone.