The election talk is about capping energy prices and saving those on standard tariffs typically £100 a year. Frankly we'd be embarrassed to save 'em that little. So today we launch our 7th MSE collective switch with typical savings of £280 a year. This isn't a manifesto pledge. It's on now - but not for long.

A collective switch is where a trusted intermediary (eg, a council or us) gets energy firms bidding to provide special tariffs. With prices rising, this one's taken time coming, as suppliers have been unwilling to play ball. Yet now we've done it, but with limited numbers, so don't delay. Past collectives saved some large...

Carrie said: "I'm thrilled with a saving of £526/yr on our dual-fuel bill thanks to MSE's Big Switch Event." And Julie: "Really pleased - saving over £800/yr."

  • Are you eligible for Big Switch 7? Rules from regulator Ofgem mean you need to pre-register. IF YOU GET THIS EMAIL YOU'RE PRE-REGISTERED, provided you were signed up by 23 April. You must use the same email address though. Existing members of our Cheap Energy Club by the same date also count.

    So speed straight over and do a quick Cheap Energy Club comparison. If you're not pre-registered you'll see your cheapest deal, but not our collective winner. Yet big savings are still possible.

  • Our winner. Green Star Energy 1-year fix. We're chuffed with this Green Star Energy Rate Saver 12month Fixed MSE deal. It's available across Britain (but sadly not NI), and the rate is locked in for a year, though of course the amount you pay varies with usage. Factor in the £30 MSE dual-fuel cashback we give you and it's easily the market's cheapest fix.

    It's available for dual fuel AND gas-only AND elec-only AND Eco 7. You can pay by monthly (cheapest way) or quarterly direct debit, or quarterly, cash or cheque, but NOT prepay.

    Haven't heard of Green Star? It's been in the UK since 2013 and has nearly 200,000 UK customers. It's owned by a Canadian energy giant with £2.3bn in annual sales. It's offered one of our winning collective tariffs four times before and has always been well received.

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: £1,138/yr
MSE Big Switch: Green Star fix: £884/yr + £30 MSE cashback: £854/yr
Next-cheapest fix: Green Network Energy: £878/yr, no cashback

Get YOUR EXACT PRICE & saving via a full market comparison

- It's capped at 50,000 switches: The deal is currently capped at 50,000 dual-fuel (100,000 single-fuel) switches - we will try for more, but we can't be sure. Either way it closes at 10pm Thu 11 May at the latest. So go quick.

- We give you £30 dual-fuel (£15 single-fuel) cashback: For tariffs where we get paid if you switch (we show all regardless of whether you do or not), we share roughly half in cashback, so it's win-win. To help we've now a filter to order savings including cashback, and this email's links default to that. The cashback's paid into your bank account within 3mths.

- Boosted customer service: Green Star got 56% 'great' feedback in our last customer service poll, though that's based on 39 votes. We've also negotiated bolstered support, so it has a special help team just for this. And while Green Star is responsible for the tariff, we take our bit seriously, so if something goes wrong, and it won't help, let us know and we'll try to help.

- Early exit penalties:
There are £30 per fuel exit penalties (unless you leave if moving home). Existing Green Star customers will have them waived if they switch to this.

- NO credit check and NO upfront payment needed:
Unlike others .

- You CAN'T get the Warm Home Discount: If you get it, this likely isn't for you. Instead do a quick comparison and use our 'Warm Home Discount' filter.

- It's not a renewable tariff: Green Star sometimes offers them (which tend to be costlier) - this one isn't.  

No bidders for green, prepaid & long fixes, but you CAN save. As always, we tried to get a deal for each of these, but no supplier even tried to bid, never mind offered a market-leading tariff. Yet there are still some good deals on the open market. So here's what to do...

- Cheapest Green Tariff: Just do a quick comparison and click the '100% renewable' box in the filter on our results page.

- Cheapest Prepaid Tariff:
Just do a quick prepaid comparison - make sure you select prepayment options when filling in the form.

- Cheapest 'Long Fixes': To lock in for longer to save you from having to switch as often, and protect against future hikes, you usually pay a slightly higher rate (though many still save). So we pull out the best long fix in our top picks comparison.

It's on! Slash your energy bill by £280/year
The rate is FIXED for a year, ensuring no price hikes

The MSE Big Switch Event 7 FAQs
For more detailed answers, see the full MSE collective FAQs

Q. What practically happens when I switch? Very little. No one visits your home. You don't lose supply. Just give your new supplier a meter reading and then after a few weeks in the background you're switched over. It's the same gas, same electricity, even same safety - the only change is price & call centre.

Q. What info do I need to switch? It's best if you have a bill, and input kilowatt hours (kWh) into Cheap Energy Club, rather than cost. Yet DON'T WORRY if you don't know your usage, Cheap Energy Club can help you guesstimate. While the answer won't be perfect, it's usually far better than doing nowt.

Q. Why must I compare? Can't I just click a link and get the deal? Exact costs vary by region & usage, so it's important you see how it compares to the rest of the market - on principle we do a full comparison with our collectives.

Q. I'm on a fix now - should I switch to this? Do a comparison and see if you'll save, factoring in any exit fees and the length the fix is protecting you from price hikes. Remember, if you've fewer than 50 days until your fix ends your supplier CAN'T charge exit fees anyway.

Q. How does Cheap Energy Club work? It does 3 things:

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 switch you. It's sent roughly 60-90 days later.
3) We check for better deals. You set a 'trigger saving', eg, £150/yr, then we alert you if you can save this by switching again.

Q. Is it worth locking in? Could prices get cheaper again? Over to Martin:

"We've already seen big price hikes announced. Npower's and Scottish Power's have hit, E.on's hits today, SSE's on Friday, and EDF's 2nd rise is on Wed 21 Jun (all those rises are factored in to your comparison results). British Gas has frozen prices until Aug, though it's still far from cheap. I suspect it may increase prices then, to catch the others up.

"Otherwise wholesale prices (those energy firms pay) have come off slightly, after big rises, so no big price changes seem imminent. The big issue is the proposed Tory price cap (if they win). Depending how it's structured, it could bring the most expensive prices down (though by less than switching saves you), but at the cost of increasing some of the cheap deals' prices.

"Overall if you can lock in to a cheap fix and save, that's the safest move. In the very unlikely event prices plummet, you could just pay the exit fees and leave."

Quick FAQs:

Q. Can I switch if with an independent gas transporter? Yes, see IGT help.
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 panels & a feed-in tariff? Yes. Solar & FIT info
Q. I'm on a smart meter. Can I switch? Yes, but you may lose functionality. /href="" target="_blank">Smart meters & switching info
Q. Can I get paper bills? Yes but for £15/yr if you've dual fuel. See paper bills.
Q. Is paying by direct debit cheapest? Yes, but do regular meter readings.
Q. Can suppliers 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. Can I pick a date for when my switch will happen? We get asked this over and over - sadly, providers don't let you do this. See Switching FAQs.
Q. Can I get this in Northern Ireland? Sadly no, but see Cheap Northern Ireland Energy for help.

This article first appeared in the weekly email on 26 April 2017.