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I switched energy supplier and saved

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 3 November 2016 at 10:05 am

The first thing I had to do was work out how much energy I had used last year. That wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be as, rather helpfully, my current energy provider does give me an annual statement and puts on each month’s bill a note of my previous year’s energy usage.

So my gas use was 15,979 kWh and my electricity use was 772.43 kWh. The average use is 12,500 for gas and 3,100 for electricity, so I was a little over average on my gas and very much below on my electricity (probably because I have a large PV system and am very careful about how I use my free generation).

The next step was to put these figures into an online engine. There are plenty around and they are all much of a muchness.  Interestingly the one I did use had a note on the first page that I might be able to save up to £679 (wouldn’t that have been great!).

One thing worth noting is that if you use the ‘how much do you pay’ option on the online service you may not get very accurate results. Often the direct debit payments aren’t a true reflection of usage as at the end of each year you find yourself in debit or credit (usually the latter) so it’s always best to use the kWh numbers if you can find them.

That’s really about all you need to do. You can choose if you want to see all potential tariffs or whether you want to choose renewable energy only ones. You can choose ones which the online service can help you switch to or ones that you would need to contact yourself.  You can choose ones that will still allow paper statements. The most important thing to check is whether the new supplier can give you the Warm Homes Discount (WHD) (if you are eligible for it). This is particularly important if you are helping elderly relatives to switch as some suppliers can’t do this.

I didn’t need to worry about the WHD and I particularly wanted renewable energy (and not nuclear!) and I wanted the switching service to help me with the process.

The best one they came up with is likely to save me £225.60 per year. It’s not the £679 that some people may be getting, but it’s certainly made the half hour it’s taken me to do it worthwhile.  It’s with Bulb energy and they are predicting that my total cost of energy for the year will be £636.28 and I will pay £53.02 per month.  So I am switching, going green and saving money all at the same time.

But will you save money, I hear you ask. The easy answer is that if my energy use this year works out to be the same as last year then yes I will definitely save. If we have a particularly cold winter and I increase my energy use then I may end up paying more, but I would have ended up paying more with the old supplier too.

Also see: Was switching my energy supplier worth it?

Image credit David Dodge

More information about Energy Saving and Renewable Energy on YouGen.

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Comments

4 comments - read them below or add one

NEF Gabby

NEF GabbyComment left on: 1 December 2016 at 8:58 am

Malcolm

Thanks for noticing. I suppose this is one of the benefits of bills now showing actual consumption. These are definitely correct as I check meter readings on a pretty regular basis and I have been witnessing a slow decline in use as I put more energy saving measures in place.

I do try to be as energy efficient as possible and I think that's probably easier with electricity. I have LEDs throughout, am careful to use the microwave instead of the oven where possible, use a flask to keep hot water rather than boiling the kettle constantly and I always use the time save features on washing machine and dishwasher.  I also set the washing machine and dishwasher to come on in the middle of the day when I am not here and will, hopefully, be getting some PV generation.  We also don't have many real electricity guzzling appliances. (and I hardly ever hoover or iron!)

In terms of Gas I am a little surprised that I use so much, comparatively, as we also have a log stove in the living room. I think it's because we have a wet underfloor heating system in the kitchen and this is almost constantly on in the winter.  I also find it's the least controllable energy as other people can turn the thermostat up without me knowing!

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NEF Gabby

NEF GabbyComment left on: 1 December 2016 at 8:48 am

Dear Muymalestado

I understand what you are saying. It's not so much a case of switching every year, more one of checking every year.  We often see tariffs creaping up once people have switched to them or people being swtiched to the standard tariffs when they reach the end of a fixed rate.  This is quite similar to bank interest rates, as I said, we get a great deal with a bonus interest rate for the first 12 months and then you get switched to the usualy 0.1% and don't notice.

I think its just good practise to keep checking that you are on the best rate you can find on a relitively regular basis.

Gabby

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muymalestado

muymalestadoComment left on: 30 November 2016 at 11:46 pm

I also fully agree that switching should be worthwhile, but I cannot confirm that it is always easy.

First things: if you, as we, have not switched over a long period the 'first' switch is likely to yield a large saving. If you keep a careful watch on current offerings, as we, subsequent switches are worthwhile but yield much smaller savings. Logically it cannot be that energy costs less and less until you reach £0.00.

Now, for the not so easy part. Our first switch was long delayed because we have personal associations with the supplier staff - having prepared sandwiches for crews, late at night, in darkness, in blizzards while they went about finding and fixing faults.

That was nice and friendly but not financially prudent. The first switch was to e.on prior to their software being properly implemented. It took 12 weeks to settle, but did yield a £300+ per year saving. By the time we left e.on they were quite good on admin.

The second switch was to npower (I know, I know!) and the initial period was worse. The yield was of the order of £20 per year. Back to e.on took a month and yielded less than £10 per year. This last switch will yield just over £10 per year and last 1 year - but took 6 weeks to settle. We have reached the lower echelons of charging and now we switch because by not switching suppliers seem to bump customers up to higher and higher tariffs.

Once switching begins one is locked into watching for the latest offering - and that means switching which Switching Website is used, and accepting that small savings can be expected.

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Malcolm M

Malcolm MComment left on: 30 November 2016 at 6:39 pm

I fully agree that switching energy supplier is normally both easy and worthwhile.

I am however a bit puzzed by the imbalance and scale of Gabby's electricity and gas consumption.

I have a well-performing 3.6 kwp solar PV system (generating 3550 kwh/yr ), am careful about  maximising usage of PV-generated electricity and I still use 2100 kwh of imported mains electricity per annum, so Gabby's 772 kwh/yr is very very low.

I have a reasonably-well insulated 4-bedroom house and use 10,100 kwh/yr gas compared to Gabby's 15,948 kwh/yr

The scale of the imbalance between electricity and gas consumption would suggest further investigation is desirable to discover whether the consumption figures are correct.

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