How to get the best deal on your energy

In the UK many more households could be getting a better deal on their gas and electric but do not switch suppliers because of the perceived difficulty in doing so and not believing the effort is worth it.

A study by the Energy Policy Research Group at Cambridge University found that 29% of respondents thought switching was too much trouble whilst 27% didn't see the benefits of switching.

How much can I save by switching?

Our comparison of energy switching services found that customers could save between £248 and £479 and Ofgem the regulator states that the average saving is around £100.

Savings from switching suppliers varies as higher energy usage households could save more than single occupancy homes such as flats just because they spend more on their gas and electricity bills.

It also depends on which tariff and which supplier you are currently with and who you are switching to. We tracked the difference in the cost between the cheapest and most costly deals for the average UK household from March 2019 to December 2020. Our results showed that the difference between the best dual fuel deal and the worst consistently remained around the £7-800 a year mark.

Let me make that clear, the difference between the lowest and highest prices for the average UK household was between £743 and £883 a year. I'd encourage you to take a look at the figures for yourself. If you happened to be on the most expensive deal and you switch to the absolute cheapest you could save as much as £883 a year and that's for the average UK household.

The point is that the amount you can save can vary greatly but even if you based switching on Ofgem's conservative figure on average you'd save £100 by switching. You could save more but you would only find out if you did a comparison for yourself to find out.

Is it difficult to switch energy suppliers?

According to a September 2020 Which survey 90% of those asked said that they found switching with an online comparison site found it very easy or fairly easy. Comparison sites are designed to help you find a better deal and also do the switching for you.

Respondents to the survey found automatic energy switching slightly easier with 92% saying it was very or fairly easy. They also found that switching over the phone and direct on the suppliers website to be more difficult.

Why switch energy suppliers?

According to the Energy Policy Research Group the number one reason for changing utilities was cost. They found that 73% of people changed suppliers due to lower prices. It's not really a surprise to find that higher bills Incentivise households to seek out a better deal elsewhere when the Big 6 charge more than the smaller companies.

Of those surveyed they also found that people are looking for fixed price energy as more than a third (36%) of consumers stated that they changed to a capped price or a company offering price guarantees.

Lower prices and more stable and predictable monthly bills help households budget and many customers are finding that paying a fixed monthly direct debit is both cheaper compared to quarterly paper billing and offers reliability.

Where can I find the best energy deals?

Safe Energy Switch monitors prices and publishes the best tariffs from providers. A majority of the best energy deals in 2019 and 2020 were from the smaller suppliers. Towards the end of 2020 some of the branded utilities, ones that you will probably have heard about have started to compete with the smaller suppliers who have been undercutting the Big 6 on price.

Notably some of the more recognisible names such as Shell Energy have started to appear in our top 10 cheapest deals. Generally however over the last 6 months as you can see from the table below that most of the lowest priced tariffs have been from the smaller suppliers that are less well known to the general public.

Outfox the Market
Avro Energy
London Power
PFP Energy
Utility Point
Igloo Energy
NEO Energy
Together Energy
Yorkshire Energy
Pure Planet
Shell Energy

In the last half of 2020 (July-December) 15 suppliers have dominated the discount energy market appearing in the top 10 over the 6 month period. Outfox The Market and Green have had the greatest number of low cost rates available.

Some of the cheapest have also been from names that are becoming more recognisable to consumers such as Simplicity, Avro Energy, PFP Energy and Utility Point as well as London Power although they only serve the London area.

Yorkshire Energy the once no nonsense provider has since ceased trading and their customers moved to Scottish Power. It is important to note that all of the Yorkshire Energy customers were not cut off and any credit they had built up is protected so they will not lose out financially.

If you were to switch to a smaller company should they cease trading you are protected and once you have been moved to another supplier you are free to switch again. From a customers perspective they are fully protected in the UK.

The easiest option for finding a better deal to switch to is by using a comparison website or automatic switching service. A comparison site is more likely to have a better deal unless you use one of the paid auto switching services.

Consumer review site Which found that there were cheaper exclusive deals from suppliers that were only available on comparison sites compared to going direct to the supplier. I've noticed this too but it tends to be the larger firms that do this so it is worth checking out a comparison service if you were looking to switch direct with a supplier. It's always worth doing a quick comparison to check you are getting the best deal.

None of the Big 6 or some of the more visible smaller suppliers such as Bulb Energy are nowhere to be seen in our cheap tariff table. It is unlikely they will ever appear in the list as they do not compete on price although the British Gas venture into the budget supplier market with Evolve is hoping to do so. So far however they are still too expensive and they have terrible customer feedback, just take a look at our comparison of suppliers.

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How to compare for the best energy deals

The best energy deals never offer free gifts or cashback. The gifts are gimmicks and the cashback is just added to a higher gas and electric bill. Most people just want a good price, a supplier that they can get in contact with if needed and possibly do your bit by choosing a Green supplier.

Gas and electricity deals can be easily found by comparing. Some deals however have to be switched to via the suppliers website. Out of the two options customers that have switched found it the easiest and most straightforward by using a service that compares gas and electricity providers.

It takes about 5 minutes to do a simple comparison and it will be more accurate if you use your annual kWh consumption figures from your latest bill. If you don't happen to have those figures then you can just select the average usage household option as the suppliers are always listed in price order with the cheapest first. If you want more details on how to compare take a look at our guide on how to change energy supplier.