Energy price hikes are coming. EDF has already announced it'll raise electricity prices by 8.4% in March. Many other big names have frozen prices till April, but it's highly likely we'll see rises when those promises come to an end.

Via our collectives we try to get cheaper than the cheapest deals for you, but because prices are so volatile right now, the companies aren't playing ball. In fact we think we've only managed to get a deal that we were prepared to put our name to for Scotland and Wales, and even that's not 100% signed.

We're at the final negotiation for a deal for a super-cheap direct debit tariff which should launch in 2 weeks, although it's not 100% signed yet, so there's always a chance it may not happen. Anyone who gets this email, or is registered for our Cheap Energy Club will be eligible, (if not register here) and we'll confirm details next week.

If you live elsewhere this is a massive call to ACT NOW and lock in a cheap deal before the hikes hit.

1) Slash 230/yr off your bills by locking in to a cheap fix. Over 60% of you are massively overpaying for your energy by languishing on standard tariffs - mostly with the Big 6 firms at an average cost of 1,065/yr on typical direct debit usage. Yet you can get the same thing elsewhere for 834/yr.

To find your best deal (and get a possible 30 cashback if you switch) use our Cheap Energy Club

If you are unsure about how to pick, we have pared down the choice to best-in-breed tariffs with more detailed explanations on our top picks comparison. Here are 5 key options. Prices are based on typical usage (always compare to find your rate).

- The cheapest tariff, but there are questions. Iresa is an outlier, with its 1yr fix (so the rate is locked in) at 834/yr, that's over 40 cheaper than any other firm. It's a new company that says its systems help it make substantial savings; but we do have questions over the sustainability of this model, and what little feedback we've had hasn't been great overall.

- Next cheapest (if you factor in cashback). iSupply costs 902/yr, though factor in our 30 dual fuel cashback for switching and it undercuts any other tariff on typical use (do compare to get your price). The firm has been running 5 years, customer service was 38% 'great' in our last poll.

- Cheapest big name suppliers (all have 30 dual fuel cashback via cheap energy club). Co-op has a fix till April 2018 at 949/yr, but its customer service rating isn't great, after that there's First Utility which is strong on service at '60% great; at 958/yr. E.on is cheapest of the big 6 with decent customer service at 962/yr.

- Cheapest TWO year fix. New supplier Engie has a fix till June 2019, protecting you from price rises for the next 2 winters after this, at a typical 969/yr and 30 dual fuel cashback via Cheap Energy Club. As it's a newbie there's no feedback, but it is a big player in France. If prices continue to rise rapidly this could look a very good deal with hindsight.

- Top for customer sevice. Ovo Energy's 1yr fix costs 997/yr and again there's 30 dual fuel cashback via Cheap Energy Club. In our last survey a huge 86% rated it 'great'. Though as noted above First Utility is slightly cheaper and still has a decent rating.

Martin Lewis
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2) Worried about switching? Don't be. Many wrongly think it's a hassle, yet it's the same electricity, same gas and same safety - only service, billing and price change.

We've timed it (check out our fun video) and it can take less than 5 mins to fill out your details and switch to a better deal via Cheap Energy Club.

Just grab a recent bill for your annual usage (if you don't have one, we can estimate), enter your details and we give a full market comparison. Select a tariff, and you're done - your new energy supplier should switch you in 3-4 weeks, they do the work behind the scenes. Dawn did it: "Compared using your tips, will save 220/yr - took 5 mins."

- Elec or gas only? You can still switch, though your choice may be more limited. Just go to Cheap Energy Club and select the correct fuel in the 'Edit details' section.

3) On British Gas standard tariff, if you want to stay there, you can gain 130. Millions more are with the UK's largest energy supplier, and for some reason many are unwilling to move. If so it's worth knowing Sainsbury's Energy is British Gas with a different name. It's the same gas/elec, service & safety. It's got a separate call centre, but that's still run by BG, and some of its smart meters are compatible.

And Sainsbury's Energy's Fix & Reward dual fuel 1yr fix is 1,044 but you get a 100 Sainsbury's voucher, plus 30 cashback if you switch via Cheap Energy Club. If you'll use the voucher it reduces its cost to an equiv. 914/yr. See BG vs Sainsbury's for full info.

4) Don't want to move firm, switch without switching to save up to 120/yr. If you think moving firm is a hassle (it's not), at least move to your provider's cheapest tariff. The biggest saving is for those with Scottish Power - someone with typical usage on its standard variable tariff could save a massive 118/yr by moving to its cheapest fix. David did it: "Just compared rates and managed to save 268/yr with the same supplier." See Switching without switching for full help.

5) Get 'Unlimited' energy for a fixed fee with this unique tariff. 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's 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?

6) On prepay? Switch and save up to 140/yr or change meter and save 290/yr.
Standard meters are cheaper than prepay and the Big 6 have stopped charging to swap you to one, though most people require a credit check. Some small suppliers also offer this for free (though not all). On typical use, Big Six standard prepay tariffs average 1,127/yr so switching to the cheapest fix can save 290/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.

This article first appeared in the weekly email on 01 February 2017.