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Cheap Gas & Electricity

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Archna and Rebecca | Edited by Steve N

Updated Daily

If you’re enjoying an ice cream in the sun, winter energy bills may seem distant, yet energy price hikes means this could be your last chance to switch to the cheapest deals, as they're disappearing. But, act now and you could save £300 a year.

We've shouted about it for years, but the cheapest deals are for switchers, vastly undercutting the rest. This guide tells you how you can switch.

Now's a great time to switch energy tariff

Even though EDF, British Gas, Npower, E.on, Scottish Power and SSE shaved just over 5% off their gas prices earlier this year, if you're on a big six standard tariff, you're still massively overpaying.

And our research suggests the price cutting trend has reversed, and the cheapest deals are disappearing - likely due to Brexit and the weak pound. Back in May, someone with typical usage could lock their energy for just £724, and there were five firms offering tariffs under £750 a year. Now, the cheapest fixed deal is £758 for a year’s usage.

Compare to find YOUR cheapest price (plus possible cashback)

The winner depends on where you live and your usage, so use our Cheap Energy Club top picks comparison to find YOUR exact winner (plus £30 switchers dual fuel cashback) – it only take five minutes. Here's an example of savings...

The Cheapest Dual Fuel Deals (based on typical usage)
Find YOUR cheapest & YOUR SAVING via Cheap Energy Club
Tariff Supplier Cost/year Exit fee Cashback via Cheap Energy Club
Typical big six standard tariff (1) - £1,063 - -
Cheapest one-year fix with no exit fees Avro Energy £758 None None
Cheap one-year fix GB Energy Supply £780 £30 / fuel None
Cheap two-year fix Places for People £842 £30 / fuel £60 dual fuel / £30 single
Tariffs correct as of 14 July 2016. Based on Ofgem calculations for medium usage. All tariffs assume monthly direct debit. Varies by region. (1) Estimated average across the big six.

Energy switching Q&A

Worried about the pitfalls of switching? Here's a quick video on how to avoid them.

As well as the video, we've also answered the most common switching questions posted on Twitter, Facebook and our forum. See the answers below.

Comparing shows a fix'll cost me more – should I still do it?

I have a prepay meter. Can I switch or fix my energy tariff?

Should I take a short, cheaper fix, or fix long? I can't decide

How much did prices drop in 2016?

Switching questions, including 'I'm in debt, can I switch?' and 'Is it a big hassle?'

Get CONSTANTLY cheap energy with MSE's free Cheap Energy Club

Our Cheap Energy Club is designed to keep you constantly on the cheapest tariff – fighting the fact most cheap deals only last 1-2 years before their rates rise. It does this by...

  1. Finding you the cheapest deal. If you're already on it, great. If not, it'll help you switch. You usually get £30 cashback on top for a dual fuel switch or £15 cashback for switching just gas or electricity.

  2. Then constantly monitoring your tariff. Each month, without you doing anything, we do a background comparison to check yours is still cheapest.

  3. Alerting you when it's time to switch (again). If you can save money switching either because your rate's changed, or others have, we'll tell you.

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

Got to say thanks. I’ll be saving a whopping £800 per year on my dual fuel bill after using your Cheap Energy Club. Was hoping for £300 so this is amazing (a tad annoyed with myself that I didn't do it sooner!)

Consider myself money-savvy, but just done your energy supplier swap and saved £548 a year.

@MartinSLewis saved me £552/year + £30 cashback – my first switch in 15 years!

We've also added some improvements to Cheap Energy Club. One is a filter that lets you search for tariffs with no standing charge. Let us explain....

Energy bills work a bit like phones – you have the standing charge (like line rental, you pay it regardless) and the usage charge (like calls). Many who go away for some of the year want to avoid a standing charge – so Cheap Energy Club now lets you compare all 'no standing charge' tariffs.

Cheap Energy Club's results also show which tariffs will and which won't be eligible for the Warm Home discount. This is a Government discount of £140 you can get during winter - if you qualify. It also shows which tariffs are made of 100% renewable electricity.

And finally, in the past our alert emails went just to the person who registered, but lots of you said you wanted somebody else copied in, so we've added that function too. Do it when you register, or add them to the account details page if you're already a member.

Try it, and let us know what you think at energyclub@moneysavingexpert.com.

Comparison sites don't always show all tariffs by default

It's also possible to get cashback for switching from comparison sites. Bear in mind though that some comparison sites by default only show you tariffs you can switch to via them (ie, where they're paid commission). This filters out some results – Cheap Energy Club shows you ALL those available by default.

If you do use a comparison site always make sure you've selected the option to show all available tariffs to get the full picture before making a decision.

For more help switching energy via comparison sites click here

Not switched for a while?

A recent CMA investigation into the energy market found that 70% of big six customers are still on expensive standard tariffs, paying an estimated £1.4 billion a year more on average than they would on more competitive tariffs.

To encourage switching, the CMA announced proposals to force suppliers to give Ofgem details of everyone that has been on standard tariffs for more than 3 years. This will be entered into a database to allow rival suppliers to contact customers by letter and offer cheaper deals based on their actual energy usage

But don’t worry about spam, the CMA say you will be able to opt out of being contacted by post, and you will only be contacted electronically if you explicitly choose to opt in.

These measures are expected to be finalised by the end of the year, and will likely be implemented at the beginning of 2017.

Switch to monthly direct debit to save £75

Fixed monthly direct debit payments, where you pay a fixed estimate each month, can usually save you £75/year as companies are sure you won't default and they earn interest on any overpayments. So if you can do this, go for it. Depending on your supplier, any overpayments are refunded automatically or on request.

Plus don't assume dual fuel (getting gas & electricity from one supplier) is cheapest. When comparing, check the cheapest separate suppliers too.

FREE insulation & boilers

Energy efficiency can seriously cut bills. There are wads of freebies on offer from energy providers, from new boilers to loft and cavity wall insulation.

It's all part of their efficiency obligations to people in certain groups. The full Free Insulation & Boilers guide has more, but below's a taster of what you can get and what it'll save you.

  • Boiler replacement or repair. Heating accounts for around 60% of what you spend in a year on energy bills. The more efficient your boiler, the more heat it produces from each gas unit.

    Depending on your boiler's age, a shiny new efficient one could save you up to £350/year. New boilers typically cost £2,300 – a fabulous freebie.

  • Cavity wall insulation. Most homes built since 1920 have a gap between internal and external walls. Filling the cavity with insulating mineral wool and foam means cold air's kept out, and warm air stays in. It can save an average three-bedroom home up to £160/year.

  • Loft insulation. Up to a quarter of your home's heat escapes via the roof, but you can solve this by laying mineral wool under the rafters, saving up to £140/yr.

Got electricity only? You can still save

If you don't have a gas supply, don't think the rules are different. If you only have electricity you can still save serious cash using the comparisons. Use Cheap Energy Club or the other comparison sites listed above to compare electricity prices.

How to save if you're on a key/card meter

While a push from the Government means it's getting better, those on prepayment (key/card) meters are still pretty hard done by, certainly compared to those who pay by direct debit. If possible, switch to a billed meter. You may have to pay, but the savings are usually worth it.

Often they won't let you though, due to credit score or income difficulties. For full info on how to ditch a prepayment meter for a credit meter, or if you can't, how to save on a prepay meter, see the full Cheap Prepaid Gas & Elec guide. If you can't get a normal meter, you can switch and save (compare prepay tariffs).

Save up to £300/year without switching supplier

If you think switching is too much hassle (it isn't, but hey ho), just move to your current provider's cheapest deal. Yes that's right, bizarrely, even though it's the same gas, the same electricity, each energy firm charges a range of rates for using it. And no surprise Sherlock, it's the 'standard tariffs' that most people are on which are by far the most costly, as this table shows:

How much can you save without moving firm? Companies' standard tariffs vs cheapest tariffs
Supplier Supplier's standard tariff – which 70% of people are on Cheapest deal Can you get £30 dual fuel cashback via our Cheap Energy Club?
British Gas £1,044

Home Energy Fixed Nov 2018 – £1,044

Sainsbury's Energy (part of BG) Fixed Price July 2017 – £844

Yes
EDF £1,069 Blue+ Price Protection July 2017 – £875 Yes
E.on £1,047 Fixed 2 Year Online – £1,014 Yes
First Utility £1,047 First Fixed July 2017* – £832 Yes
Ovo Energy £1,004 Better Energy (all online)* – £886 Yes
Npower £1,077 Online Price Fix August 2017* – £786 Yes
Scottish Power £1,070 Fixed Price Energy August 2017* – £861 Yes
SSE £1,071 1 Year Fixed v7* – £949 Yes
Last updated: 14 July 2016. Assumes you pay by monthly direct debit. Costs vary by region. Assumes average usage: 12,500 kWh gas and 3,100 kWh elec per year.

There are two routes to do this. With both, one boon is even if your tariff has exit penalties they're not usually charged if you move internally (SSE, Ovo and First Utility do sometimes).

1) Go via Cheap Energy Club for £30 cashback. Use our comparison then scroll through the results to find your supplier's EXACT cheapest for you. For many (not all) of those above, you can switch via the links and get £30 dual fuel cashback.

2) Scan through our suppliers' cheapest tariffs list. Use the info above, then call your supplier and ask to switch. Be warned though the table above is based on average usage, and there can be regional variation. It should be fine though, do ask it to double-check the numbers for you and give you a bespoke price.

Switched energy? Get your direct debit right

Energy complexity is frustrating. Switching at a time when price hikes aren't looming can save people big money. But it can feel the opposite if the direct debit goes up.

Direct debits are based on an estimate of your usage. So some find they've switched to a cheaper tariff, but their direct debit rises. This can be the new firm over-estimating or the old one under-estimating. If it means you overpay, you'll get the money back later.

Since we've been lobbying on direct debits, rules have changed. Suppliers' licences now say they must ensure direct debits are reasonable. If yours isn't, see the full help guide Energy Direct Debits.

Renters can switch too

If you rent your home, you could save around £300/year by switching. You don't need to own the property to do it, so don't just stick with the previous tenant's gas or electricity firm.

Tenants can print out our factsheet to give to landlords. It explains the rights that renters have to switch energy supplier. It also helps landlords understand that allowing tenants to switch won't cause them any problems. Let us know if the factsheet helped you in the Energy factsheet forum thread.

When renting, you're free to switch, providing you pay the energy supplier directly (rather than paying your landlord).

You should also check your tenancy agreement – but even if your contract bans switching, Ofgem's guidance on this states that if you pay the energy bill, you're still entitled to change supplier any time. You can still compare on Cheap Energy Club if you don't have the former occupants' bills, just hit the "don't know" button when you enter your usage.

We'd love to hear your experiences of switching as a renter on the Switching when renting forum discussion, especially if you've successfully challenged your landlord. In our October 2013 poll, 52% told us they switched with no problems and didn't consult their landlord.

If you're a renter, here's some more info on your switching rights.

Pay the energy company directly? You CAN switch supplier

My tenancy agreement says I can't switch, help!

Even if you pay your landlord for energy, you may still be able to switch

Landlord says you can't ditch supplier? Try a cheaper tariff

You may be able to switch from a prepay to a normal meter

You may be eligible for free insulation or a free boiler

Check if you're one of 3.5 million owed refunds

Up to 3.5 million people could be owed money by an old energy supplier. If you've switched in the last six years and were in credit, some providers operated a "don't ask, don't get" policy. So ask now.

In 2014 it was revealed that 3.5 million people are owed a refund by an old supplier. Energy regulator Ofgem "expects suppliers to do more" to return the cash, taken from customers who overpaid on bills before switching elsewhere.

We've created a guide for you to check if you're owed any of the £200 million that providers are still sitting on. Plus, if you are owed, the guide will tell you how to claim. It's down you to get your money back.

See how to get your previous supplier to cough up in Reclaim Energy Bill Refunds.

Use less energy

It's not just which energy supplier you pay, but how much you use. Cutting energy is a mix of big and little things.

Turn down the thermostat and wear jumpers, turn lights off when you leave a room, use energy saving lightbulbs, defrost the fridge and check it's not on too high and don't leave electrical goods on standby. For more info, read the forum's Energy Saving Hunt and see the Energy Saving Trust website.

Some suppliers run credit checks

Some firms do a credit check when you apply to switch, as if you pay by direct debit, bills are estimated - if they under-assess you, you could owe them cash, so they want to know you’re good for it. There are two types of credit check done…

  • Soft search - this is the best type, as you can see it on your file, but lenders can’t so it DOESN’T have any impact on your ability to get future credit products (like mortgages).
  • Hard search - this DOES leave a mark on credit files lenders can see and can have a minor negative impact on future credit applications. This isn’t a big deal usually, but if you’re planning to apply for a mortgage within the next couple of months you may want to miss it.

If you don't pass the credit check, suppliers may ask you to pay a security deposit, eg, £200/fuel, or suggest a prepayment meter in order to take on your supply. You can stop the switch if this happens though.

Energy supplier credit checks
Supplier Credit check
British Gas Hard check
EDF No check
E.on Hard check
Npower Hard check
Scottish Power No check
SSE Soft check
First Utility Hard check
Flow Energy No check
GB Energy No check
OVO Energy No check
Utilita No check
Last updated: Feb 2016

If you're worried about your credit score, our Credit Scores guide has 25 tips on how to boost it.

Do a meter reading every time you get a bill

Reading your meter

Don't rely on your energy provider's estimate; these are often way out. If they're underbilling, you'll have a big whack to pay when your supplier receives your actual meter reading. If they're overbilling, then they've unfairly got your cash.

If your direct debit is way off kilter, call up and ask for it to be changed. You have a range of rights to ensure it's correct. See the full Energy Direct Debits guide for template letters.

Economy 7 users, you can save too

If you pay different rates depending on what time you use your energy, you can still save. Economy 7 users can compare in exactly the same way as everyone else. See our full Is Economy 7 Right for You? guide for full info.

Economy 7 users can switch to cheap fixes too. In most cases Economy 7 users can also get the top tariffs in the Top Picks table above.

If you've Economy 10, it's slightly more effort. However we've worked out a way to compare – see how to do it in our Economy 7 guide. Economy 7 and 10 tariffs are only worth considering if you've storage heaters, work shifts or can use appliances on timers.

Use heating oil? See how to save

If you use a heating oil tank to warm your home, our guide can help slash your bills.

1.5 million UK households rely on heating oil tanks. But many overpay due to an under-regulated market that gets too little political attention.

Our guide includes five simple steps to help cut costs, including how to haggle down the price, when to time your purchase, buying in bulk for big discounts and pay in the cheapest possible way.

Some could save £50-£100 on an average annual bill of £1,400. The guide's only for those using home heating oil (not LPG or renewable energy). See Cheap Heating Oil.

How to complain about your energy provider

The energy industry isn't known for having great customer service across the board, and while a provider may be good for some, it can be hell for others. Common problems include incorrect bills, switching issues, direct debits being too high, refund delays and more. It's always worth trying to call your provider first, but if not then…

Free tool if you're having a problem

This tool helps you draft your complaint and manage it too. It's totally free, and offered by a firm called Resolver which we like so much we work with it to help people get complaints justice.

If the complaint isn't resolved, Resolver will escalate it to the free Ombudsman Services.