How to get cheaper gas and electricity right now
When it comes to keeping your energy bills low you have two choices, use less or pay less. You're probably here now for the latter, everyone wants to pay less for their energy but are often put off by the hassle of finding a cheaper gas and electric supplier.
Before we go any further you might want to check to see if you are a higher than average energy user to find out why you might be using more gas and electric than a similar sized household.
Why are you paying too much for your gas and electric?
Energy companies make lots of money and they make even more because most people can't be bothered to shop around. They think it's too much hassle, too difficult or just too confusing.
Why do you think you are on hold for ages when you phone up your supplier? Why do they spend what seems like ages telling you about how they use your data and how you are important to them and then put you in a cue with hold music only to interrupt intermittently to tell you that you can find answers to your questions online, like you haven't already tried that first.
Why do you think the first generation of smart meters didn't allow you to switch to a cheaper supplier. Your not telling me that happened by mistake. They spent millions, built and tested the smart meters over many years and no one spotted that they couldn't handle switching suppliers.
No I'm afraid the big energy companies want you to stay a loyal customer. They know that the longer you remain with them the more they can charge you.
The cheapest gas and electricity supplier
Now there are energy companies that are consistently low on price and they do this by undercutting the bigger energy companies. Outfox the Market and Utility Point are two such suppliers. Sure they have issues and customer service is on the whole poor, but if you never need to contact them you can be quids in.
I used to be an Outfox the Market customer but I left after they made some pretty big gaffs which scared off lots of customers. However they have been the cheapest supplier in the UK for the last year or so. I know this as I check the prices on EnergyHelpline which compares the whole of the market and they have the most comprehensive supplier database in the industry.
So why aren't you switching?
• It's too difficult or complicated to switch energy suppliers
• I feel safe with my Big 6 supplier
• New energy suppliers seem to be going under frequently
• What if I switch and they increase the prices soon after
• I don't want to keep on having to compare and switch
If you have one or more of the above concerns then you can avoid these problems by using one of the energy switching sites. I think I have compiled the most comprehensive list of auto switch services for the UK and many of the switching sites now cover the whole of the market.
The advantage of using a secure automatic energy switching site is that they do the comparisons and alert you when it is beneficial for you to switch and then do the switch for you. Less hassle and more money saved.
And if you are still not convinced you are getting the cheapest deal you can always manually verify it yourself by checking the EnergyHelpline database (don't forget to select the show me all generally available plans).
Your energy bill is one of your biggest ongoing expenses and staying with the same energy company through loyalty or just plain laziness isn't going to ensure you are plugged into a source of cheap energy.
Unless you check reasonably regularly, once or twice a year, it is unlikely you are currently getting a good deal from your supplier. Even if you do switch there is no guarantee that you are going to be on the best deal in a years time.
Compare the Best Energy Deals
I follow the energy prices prices and regularly compare energy providers to find the best energy deals as part of keeping this site updated with the latest information. I know that over the course of 2019 that wholesale energy costs came down which in turn allowed energy companies to offer cheaper energy deals to attract new gas and electric customers.
Notice how I said new customers? There's two reasons for this and you have probably already realised this but your energy company is slow to respond to drops in the price of wholesale energy but quick to increase prices. Your energy company also doesn't automatically switch you over to the best deal if there is a cheaper offer. The regulator had to step in just to get energy companies to acknowledge to their existing customers that they have a better deal available let alone switch you.
Switching can seem Daunting but it will Cut Your Bills
I compare and switch but I don't do it as often as I should. I was with British Gas but found that if I switched to Ecotricity I could reduce my bills and get a warm feeling from knowing Ecotricity was being produced by real wind farms and solar panels in the UK and supporting smaller producers.
It was good to help the planet and Ecotricity had great customer support but over time their prices were too high compared to the new energy companies entering the market so it was time to switch supplier.
I switched to Outfox the Market and got a great energy deal and I could still take comfort from the fact that Outfox were supplying me green electricity through REGO certificates that ensured my money went to adding green energy to the grid.
Outfox the Market the market weren't great at customer service and they made a few decisions that lose them customers including me. They switched to higher direct debits in winter and lower in summer and they did this in the middle of winter so customers found that suddenly their direct debits were much higher.
They didn't time it well or communicate this message very well. I could see the sense in it but people like to pay the same each month so they can budget.
I switched to People's Energy who were not the absolute cheapest but they promised to treat customers fairly and offer 75% of profits back to customers.
It's important to point out that while all this seems like a lot of stress and hassle the amount I pay for gas and electricity has been much lower than I would have been if I hadn't done anything at all. It's like a game you see, you have to keep chasing your tail and the energy companies know many people will just give up and stay put and that when they have you paying over the odds for your energy.
Now I don't advocate for any particular company although I do rather like People's Energy ethos but won't stay loyal if prices go too high above the cheapest tariffs. I do advocate comparing and switching or if you want someone else to do the work for you then using one of the auto energy comparison and switching site such as Switchd or Look After My Bills.
Information you need to Switch to a Cheaper Energy Tariff
The comparison sites need to know your postcode as this decides which energy region you are in. Unfortunately prices vary across region in the UK even for the same supplier. You also need to know how much energy you use over the course of a year for gas and electricity in kWh. This is to ensure you get an accurate quote based on your usage. If you don't know or don't have a bill handy then use 12,000 kWh for gas and 3,100 kWh for electricity. It wont give you a personalised quote but it will show you which suppliers are cheaper than others.
A search at the time of writing this a comparison of the whole energy market for dual fuel tariffs shows me that the cheapest switch would be to Utility Point and their 'Just Up 20 Wk04 Direct tariff' costing £67.30 a month. The deal is fixed rate for 12 months and has a £36 per fuel early exit fee if you decide to leave before your 12 month contract is up.
Taking a look at a similar 12 month fixed tariff offering from Outfox the Market shows a few pence more per month at £67.39 but they have no early exit fee. It's a few pence more expensive but means that you could leave without consequences should you decide to before the contract ends.
All things being equal this it would seem the Outfox the markets 'Fix'D 20 2.0' tariff is a better deal. However if you do a search for Outfox the market reviews you quickly see that they appear to have a few customer issues in the past but seemed to have turned things around somewhat.
You'll find that many energy comparison sites and auto switch sites do not include energy suppliers with a bad customer service record. I have to opt to view all tariffs when I compared rather than just the ones the comparison site recommended for all the other suppliers to show up in the results.
As I mentioned earlier I am with People's Energy and to date have had a good experience. They haven't bumped up my direct debit payments and instead allow me pay a fixed monthly amount knowing that I will create a small debit in winter as I use more fuel and a small credit in summer.
Looking further down the results I see People's Energy 2 Months Upfront 20 Tariff coming in at £67.72 a month, not much more than the other two cheap energy tariffs. That's cheaper than the current variable rate 'The People’s Tariff' I am on so I could stay with my current supplier and move to their cheaper tariff and save some money.
Now if I wanted to switch energy supplier to one of the Big 6 the cheapest tariff available is Eon's 'Fix Online Exclusive v23' tariff at £72.84 which is more than £5 a month more expensive for the privilege of being with a bigger company.
You can't get this deal if you are already with Eon or going to them direct. It's only available through an energy comparison site so it pays to compare.
Compare energy deals by using an energy price comparison site as some cheap energy offers are only available through gas and electric comparison sites.
You should take customer feedback into account when considering a switch and not just look at price. It could save you a lot of hassle in the future. To save you time take a quick look at the best energy suppliers in the UK which is an aggregated customer feedback table showing who really does provide the best customer service.
I just don't want to switch
If you really don't want to change over to a cheaper energy company then at least call up your current supplier and check to see if they have a better deal. If you haven't already done this then it is likely you could save some money without having to move.
What else can I do to cut my energy bills?
I like to think I'm pretty switched on when it comes to reducing how much I spend on gas and electricity. In a typical 3 bed family home my current energy Supplier (December 2019, The People's Energy Company) estimates my annual usage at 2,226 kWh for electricity (3,100 kWh is the national average) and 7,236 kWh for gas (12,000 kWh is the national average) which classes me as a low energy user.
The reason I'm telling you this is that a household with 2 adults and 2 children can reduce their energy usage. Without going into too much detail I used draught excluders around external doors, Low energy light bulbs (LED), fitted low flow showerhead and reduced the hot water and heating temperature on the boiler.
If you are the sort of person who likes the comfort of all day heating in winter then definitely switch to a cheaper energy supplier.
If you are still not convinced I will leave you with this little fact. The current cheapest energy provider on 31st October 2019 is Outfox the Market's One Variable 7.0 tariff at £841 a year.
The most expensive is Ebico's Zero Green Fixed V4 at £1,482 for the same amount of energy used for a year. That's £641 difference in cost. That's the equivalent of you paying over £50 more a month by direct debit for the exact same energy.