Energy price hikes are coming thick and fast, so we wanted to update you with the situation right now. Remember - this is the time your usage is at its highest, so check now to see if you can save £100s.

Switching to a cheap fixed tariff is easy. It takes just 5 mins, plus you get £30 cashback (£15 per fuel) if we can do it for you. You can either:

- Do a full market comparison via MSE's Cheap Energy Club to see how much you could save after factoring in the price rises,
- OR if you're confused by the array of deals, our top-picks comparison includes reviews of a few select tariffs and help on which to choose.

Average annual standard variable tariff bills

Use our Cheap Energy Club for a bespoke comparison

Firm Current price/YR SPRING hike info
British Gas £1,044 Frozen till Aug
Npower £1,077 £1,187 from 16 March
EDF £1,069 £1,082 from 1 March
E.on £1,047 No news yet
Scottish Power £1,081 £1,167 from 31 March
SSE £1,068 No news yet
Compare those to what you could be paying if you act...
Cheapest 1yr fixes now £834 - £880/yr Price 'frozen' for a year as they're fixes

Based on regulator Ofgem's typical use, dual fuel, monthly direct debit.

Put bluntly, if you're with Npower you'll be paying a whopping £350/yr more than you need to for exactly the same gas and elec. So here are our top 10 tips to help you switch and save...

1. New. We've launched a tool so you can check you're on your supplier's cheapest tariff. If you're on a supplier's standard rate, you're not on its cheapest. That's why we've added a new 'My Current Supplier' filter to Cheap Energy Club. Just check your Energy Club details are up to date so we know which your current supplier is.

Savings can be massive. From March, a typical Npower user on its standard dual fuel tariff could save £215/yr by moving to its cheapest. A British Gas customer can switch to Sainsbury's Energy (which British Gas operates) and pay the same, plus get a £100 Sainsbury's gift card. Both switches give you £30 cashback. See Switching without switching for full help.

2. Worried about small providers? See only deals from big names. There are about 50 energy suppliers, all offering multiple tariffs, so it can be dizzying choosing the right one. So now you can filter our Cheap Energy Club results to show only tariffs, incl the cheapest, from the Big 6 plus Co-op, First Utility and Ovo.

3. Urgent. If you're in Wales, Scot or parts of NW Eng ACT NOW to see if you should get our cheap collective fixed deal. We've negotiated a cheap deal with EDF for at least 25,000 dual fuel switches (50,000 single), incl Economy 7.

This isn't a blockbuster like some of our previous collective switches. However it's with a big-name company, we'll be supporting it, and on average, incl cashback, at the time of its launch it was the cheapest fix on the market after Iresa (whose price raises concerns over sustainability).

Whether it's a good deal for you or not depends on where you live and your usage, which is why we do it as part of a whole-of-market comparison in Cheap Energy Club, so you can see how it stacks up against others.

As long as you were signed up for this email or were registered for the club before 8pm last Friday, it'll show up in your results and our top picks if still available.

EDF scored a decent 60% 'great' in our latest customer service poll. More info on the tariffs, including a full review and FAQs, in our 6th MSE Collective guide.

4. Switching's easy. It's the same gas, same electricity. You won't be cut off, and they don't send engineers round to tinker with your meter. Just fill in your details, give a meter reading & the companies do the rest.

5. You can still switch and save if you have a prepay meter. Standard meters are cheaper than prepay, and the Big 6 (and some smaller suppliers) have stopped charging to swap you to one, though most people require a credit check. On typical use, switching to the cheapest fix can save £295/yr. See our Cheap Prepaid Gas & Elec guide for full info.

If you don't want to or can't change meters, do a Cheap Energy Club prepay comparison anyway, because you could still save - though if you're in debt with your supplier you may not be able to move.

6. If you're on elec or gas only you can still move. Though your choice may be more limited. Just go to Cheap Energy Club and select the correct fuel in the 'Edit details' section.

For heaven's sake, energy hikes now mean you could be burning £350/yr unnecessarily – just sort it
Switching to a cheap fixed tariff takes just 5 mins, plus you get £30 cashback if we can do it for you

7. It's cheaper to pay by direct debit. Suppliers charge about 7% less if you pay this way. Always give regular meter readings to get accurate bills. If you estimate, you could end up with overly inflated monthly payments or face a bill shock if you've not paid enough.

8. If you don't think you'll bother to keep switching, look for a longer fix. It won't be the cheapest deal you can get, but it protects against price rises for longer. Do a full market comparison and fix until 2019 to cover you for the next two winters.

9. You can get 'unlimited' energy for a fixed price. If you're worried about your direct debit shooting up as quickly as temperatures drop, Green Star's Unlimited tariff* lets you pay a fixed amount every month regardless of how much energy you use - good for someone freezing at home and fearful of putting the heating on.

All prices are personalised. You need to give it past bills to calculate a flat monthly rate, fixed for 12 months. The tariff cost is similar to a Big 6 standard tariff, but there are £30/fuel exit fees. For medium users, it's about £1,068/yr, or £89/mth. Yet even if your usage rockets, Green Star says it'll honour the deal - useful if you just want peace of mind. See Is Green Star any good?

10. If you're thinking of moving home, make sure you can take your deal with you. Not all suppliers let you transfer fixed deals to a new property. So it's best to check with your supplier to see if it's possible. If you do need to leave early, most suppliers charge exit fees, typically £30/fuel, though the odd firm doesn't at all and some waive them if you move home. It's best to check before applying so you're in the know.

For more options and info including what to do if you're a renter, on Economy 7, think you're eligible for free insulation, or want to complain about bad service, see our Cheap Gas and Electricity guide.

In Northern Ireland?

You've fewer options than the rest of the UK, but can still switch electricity. We're working on a comparison tool and will soon be able to let you compare the best electricity tariffs.

This article first appeared in the weekly email on 15 February 2017.