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Switch energy supplier to get the best deal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 May 2012 at 9:31 am

Have you switched energy supplier since the industry was deregulated? If the answer is no (and it will be for about half of you), you are almost certainly not getting the best deal. Energy companies have a complex maze of different rates, and the only thing you can be sure about is that if you've been a customer for a long time, you're not getting the best rate. They tend to be reserved for new customers - and for those who are on "dual fuel" arrangements (ie they buy both gas and electricity from the same supplier.

The good news is that most people who haven't switched supplier can save a lot. Switchers averaged £237 saving a year for a dual fuel account. And it's much easier than you think. There are lots of "switching" websites around, and you can move your account at the click of a button.

We recommend Which? Switch* because we like its independence, and that it is owned by the Consumers Association. It's also accredited by Consumer Focus. We also like the knowledge that it enables you to make choices that are based on more than price. If you want your electricity to be renewable, or if you are interested in finding out about service ratings of the various suppliers, Which? Switch* can help.

Bills have been rising at an extraordinary rate over the past decade. Households analysed** for the Committee on Climate Change last year found average bills rose by £455 between 2004 and 2010. Of this around £290 was due to increase in wholesale gas prices. Around £30 was to support investment in low carbon generation, and £45 for energy efficiency improvements in homes.

To minimise your energy bill pain, make sure that you're not spending over the odds. Click here* to check whether you are getting the best rates.

*This is an affiliate link. If you switch having clicked this link we will get a small commission which contributes to the costs of running this website.Renewable energy subsidies are often blamed for the significant upward trend in household energy bills over the past five years. But it's not true. The real cause is the increased cost of wholesale gas. 

**The 21 million that have dual fuel energy bills.


If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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2 comments - read them below or add one

Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 25 June 2012 at 8:16 am

Hi Richard

This isn't something that I've investigated yet (but now you've suggested I've put it on my list). 

The way the FIT works is that you get a cheque (or bank transfer) quarterly from your FIT supplier (who may be, but doesn't have to be the same as the company you buy electricity from). So the only metric that is significant in considering who you buy your electricity from is how much of your generated electricity you use at home.

The assumption is (for the purposes of calculating export tariff) that you will use half of what you generate. This is likely to be an over estimate for most household, but will depend on how much electricity you currently use during the day. I have a 2.1 kW system, and I work at home, and I still export about two thirds of what it generates (although we are quite a low usage household, and we do take care to put the washing machine etc on when the panels are generating most).

So if you look at the predicted generation figures for your solar PV, and take a third of it, that will give you a reasonable estimate of your savings (more if you use a lot of electricity during the day, less if your house stand empty all day.  Subtract that figure from your current annual usage in kWh and that will give you a reasonable figure to put into the switch  sites.

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Richard Taylor

Richard TaylorComment left on: 23 June 2012 at 11:15 am

Dear Cathy - From the customer side of things, I will have a brand new 4KW PV system shortly and am currently on a Scottish Power May 2013 fixed electricity only deal (with Econ7)  - no standing charge - with staged Day Rate Tarriff of First 225 kwh used each quarter @23.319p with remaining all/day @11.620p and a night rate @ 5.316p - all rates incl.VAT.

Before PV my annual electricity usage was high at about 11500 kwh with an annual bill of about £1200 and I am hoping of course to make substantial savings through FIT payments and my own daytime usage....and some but less of course through export.

Bearing in mind that my PV will only of course be potentially making savings for me during the more expensive day rate daylight hours, is there any advice about changing Tariffs to say perhaps a non-staged day rate tariff ? without standing charge ? etc....and if so is there a more PV friendly and thus more economical supplier or PV specific switching website you can suggest.

I hope you or perhaps some other yougen subscribers can help and point me in the right direction on this I suspect that having a PV system adds even more complexity to choosing the right tarriff and supplier/deal etc....and I'm not very good at Maths which does'nt help ! 



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