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Cheap Gas & Electricity

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Archna | Edited by Steve N

Updated Daily

With winter here and the cold weather starting to bite, now's the time to sort your energy – most can save £300+/year. Plus, do it now and you can lock in a cheap rate for the cold months ahead.

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

Price hikes are here, so lock in to a cheap energy deal NOW

cheap energy

British Gas's price rise has now hit – the last of the announced big-six supplier hikes this year. Here's what each has done...

  • British Gas. Its 12.5% hike to standard electricity prices hit on 15 September. If you've dual fuel, that's a 7.3% increase on average.
  • E.on. It hiked electricity prices by 13.8% and gas by 3.8% on 26 April – an 8.8% increase to standard dual-fuel prices on average.
  • EDF Energy. On 21 June, standard dual-fuel prices rose by an average 7.2%, with gas up by 5.5% and electricity by 9%. This follows a 1.2% hike back in March.
  • Npower. Its price rise hit on 16 March, with standard gas prices up by 4.8% and electricity by a massive 15% – a 9.8% hike on average.
  • Scottish Power. Standard tariff customers saw prices rise on 31 March. Its dual-fuel tariff went up by 7.8% on average, with gas rising by 4.7% and electricity by 10.8%.
  • SSE. On 28 April, its standard dual-fuel tariff increased by an average 6.9%. Electricity rose by 14.9%, while gas prices were unchanged.

If you're on a standard tariff with any of these companies, it's likely you're massively overpaying - so act fast and lock in to cheap deal now.

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 £25 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 - £1,132 - -
Cheapest tariff Outfox the Market (1) £807 None None
Cheapest fix Together Energy

£832

£30 / fuel None
Cheapest big name one-year fix First Utility £898 £30 / fuel £25 dual fuel / £12.50 single
Cheap long fix (18 months) Green Network Energy (2) £895 £30 / fuel £25 dual fuel / £12.50 single
Tariffs correct as of 14 December 2017. Based on calculations from regulator Ofgem for medium usage. All tariffs assume monthly direct debit. Varies by region. (1) This is a variable tariff, so your rates can rise or fall at any time. Outfox the Market charges a monthly membership fee depending on your level of usage instead of a standing charge. (2) Only available through Cheap Energy Club or MoneySupermarket.

Energy switching Q&A

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

Energy Q and A

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

Energy club logo

Our Cheap Energy Club is designed to keep you constantly on the cheapest tariff – fighting the fact most cheap deals only last one to two 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 £25 cashback on top for a dual-fuel switch or £12.50 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, including a filter that lets you search for tariffs by your current supplier or by big name suppliers only.

save energy now

Cheap Energy Club also let you filter which tariffs will 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 around two-thirds 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 in 2018.

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 £320/year. New boilers typically cost £2,300 – a fabulous freebie.

  • insulation
  • 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 £150/year. We've heard of certain cases where damp has formed after having cavity wall insulation installed, so make sure it's appropriate for your home.

  • 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 £135/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 new regulatory caps on how much prepay customers can be charged mean prices are coming down, those on key or card meters are still pretty hard done to, certainly compared to those on billed meters. If possible, switch to one of these. 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 billed meter, or if you can't, how to save on prepay, see the full Cheap Prepaid Gas & Elec guide.

Want green energy? Most can still save – though not as much

If you want to do your bit for the environment, there are plenty of 'green' tariffs available. You'll usually pay a premium on the very cheapest fixes for green energy, but you can still save £100s/yr over big six standard rates.

These tariffs come in 'different shades of green'. Some suppliers promise to match your usage with energy generated from renewable sources – such as solar, wind or hydroelectric – while others will put money into renewable energy developments to boost the amount of green energy in the UK's national network.

Typically, it's only the electricity that's fully renewable. A few suppliers have started to offer 100% renewable gas, but it's rare.

Save £235/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 60% of people are on Cheapest deal Can you get £25 dual fuel cashback via our Cheap Energy Club?
British Gas

£1,101

BG HomeEnergy Plus Cover Jan 2019 – £995 (1)

Sainsbury's Price Freeze Dec 18 – £1,002

Yes


Yes

Co-operative Energy £1,158 Co-op Lite Online Mar 19 – £999 No
E.on £1,123 Go Online 1 Year v4 Online – £929 Yes
EDF £1,142 Online Saver Jan19 v2 – £1,032 No
First Utility £1,132 Smart First Jan 19 Online* – £898 (2) No
Npower £1,166 Fixed Energy Online March 19* – £1,050 Yes
Ovo Energy £1,037 2 Year Fixed (all online)* – £1,030 No
Scottish Power £1,148 Online Fixed Saver Dec 18* – £1,022 No
SSE £1,109 SSE 1 Year Fixed v14 – £1,033 Yes
Last updated: 14 December 2017. Assumes you pay by monthly direct debit. Costs vary by region. Assumes average usage: 12,000 kWh gas and 3,100 kWh elec per year. (1) You'll also get basic boiler cover for 12 months with this tariff. Only available through price comparison websites. (2) Only available at this price if you have a smart meter installed by First Utility within the first six months of applying. Not available in the North Scotland or South West England regions.

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 £25 cashback. Use the 'My Current Supplier' filter in our Cheap Energy Club to see all your supplier's deals and find the EXACT cheapest one for you. For many (not all) of those above, you can get £25 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

direct debitEnergy 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.

On a fix? You can switch again penalty-free in the last 49 days of your deal

In 2013, Ofgem introduced new rules to protect people on fixed tariff deals. This included banning suppliers from charging exit fees in the last seven weeks of fixed-term deals.

If you're near the end of a fix, you can't be charged exit fees for moving to a new deal – provided your switch completes within 49 days of your current deal ending – despite what some suppliers say.

Renters can switch too

If you rent your home, you could save £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.

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

tenancy agreement

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 three million owed refundsenergy refund

If you switched energy firms before 2014, if you were in credit, you should've been given that money back. Yet for years, many energy firms pocketed the cash. Sometimes they claimed they couldn't contact you as you'd moved house, otherwise they just kept schtum.

In 2014 it was revealed that about three million people were owed a refund by an old supplier. Energy regulator Ofgem now "expects suppliers to do more" to return the cash when people switch away from them, so it should now be automatic.

Energy UK has set up the website My Energy Credit which aims to help people claim money back from their old energy companies, though it's mainly focused on the big six. Our quick questions should also help...

How do I get my money back?

How do I contact my energy supplier?

What if they don't play ball?

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 light bulbs, 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 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 Hard check
First Utility Hard check
Flow Energy No check
OVO Energy Hard check
Utilita No check
Last updated: December 2017

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.

Smart meters can help stop this as they send meter readings automatically to your supplier, so you only pay for what you use. Yet if you get them, then switch supplier, most meters will lose this functionality - though don't let this put you off switching. See the Smart Meters guide for more.

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.

1.3 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.

Prices have fallen recently and the average annual cost is now around £675 – but you could still save on your bills. 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

man complainingThis 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 to help people get complaints justice.

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

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