Energy bills are one of the biggest ongoing expenditures that are eating up a larger percentage of people's income. Gas and electricity is something that we cannot do without so we have to do the best that we can to reduce this ongoing expense. One of the easiest ways of reducing costs is to compare your current tariff to see if there is a cheaper one that you can switch to.
Unfortunately people do not like switching, in fact less than a third of us have switched tariff or supplier. The reason for this is fear of something going wrong, not knowing how to switch and just plain old fashioned laziness. The big six energy suppliers love this state of affairs as they can keep on pushing up prices knowing that most people will just take it on the chin.
About 70% of people never switch tariffs and 75% of us are on their suppliers standard tariff which is usually the most expensive.
How much have the big 6 inceased there price
Electricity price rises for 2011
Your questions about switching energy suppliers answered
Your green energy options
If you've already switched then what else can you do
Let's take a look at the price rises in 2011 which were blamed on many things but I think we all know the real reason and it has nothing to do with wholesale gas and electricity prices.
Using a gas and electricity comparison site to switch to a cheaper tariff does not mean that you will be getting different gas or electricity. In fact the only thing that changes is the company that sends you the (cheaper) bill.
One factor that many people get confused by is that when you compare you are actually comparing the future price and not what you are paying right now. So when you enter in your details to make a comparison the comparison site will compare all the tariffs to find the one that will offer you the lowest cost bill for the coming year.
Most people should be able to save but the amount that you save is going to depend on what you are paying at the moment and how much gas and electricity that you use. For people currently on an inappropriate tariff for their current energy use the amount you save with a dual fuel switch can be in the hundreds of pounds.
Essentially there are two steps involved in switching. The first step is to compare the current tariffs on offer to identify the cheapest. This is all done through a gas and electricity comparison site where you can type in your details and make the switch from their. The only thing left to do after this is to take a gas and electricity meter reading when your current and new supplier contact you . The easiest option is to email them the details or phone them using the contact details that they write to you with.
Just like getting your annual car insurance policy you should compare every year to make sure you are getting the cheapest gas and electricity. I wouldn't recommend trying to switch more regularly than this unless you know that your current provider isn't going to hit you with a cancellation fee. Some companies charge a fee if you have been with them less than a year and want to switch, charges are usually around £30. If you are liable for one of these exit penalties then you need to make sure that you are going to save more by switching to cover the cost of these fees. Most people should not expect to be affected by these fees.
The whole process can take up to 6 weeks to switch, there are plans to speed this process up but for now expect it to be between 4-6 weeks before your new supply kicks in. If you are finding that it is taking longer then do contact your new supplier to find out what the hold up is. Remember the sooner you switch the sooner you will start saving.
As a general rule it is the online tariffs that will be the cheapest as is paying via a direct debit. Doing this can mean up to 10% savings. When comparing tariffs then you will usually find there are several options at similar prices so if you prefer not to switch to one that is managed online you don't have to.
If you are looking to save money then you are unlikely cut your bills by switching to a green energy supplier at the moment. Having said that as renewable energy becomes cheaper and oil more expensive then a green deal is likely to become more attractive. I in no way want to scare people away from switching to a 100% green supplier such as Ecotricity or Good Energy so I should for balance say that for those who want to switch for ethical reasons it will not cost a great deal more. I am currently with Ecotricity but Good Energy is just as good and my bills are currently roughly the same as when I was with British Gas.
Fun Fact: If you are living close to someone with solar panels on their roof it is likely that you will be using some of the electricity generated by their panels yet it won't cost you any more for using this green electricity.
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In 2010 the UK invested 3.3 billion dollars on clean energy technologies, half of this went on offshore wind farms. Germany invested 41.2 billion the same year, over 12 times as much.
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