How To Get Cheaper Gas And Electric Quotes
Finding a cheaper energy supplier can seem like chasing a moving target. All you want to do is have a fair priced reliable gas and electricity supplier who isn't going to rip you off when you're not paying attention.
In the UK energy market we have 60 or so domestic energy suppliers that you can choose from. You are probably already familiar with the Big 6 but are less aware of the smaller suppliers.
The Big 6 Suppliers
The big 6 are made up of British Gas, E.ON, SSE, EDF, Scottish Power and NPower. These are the gas and electric companies most people in the UK are supplied by.
The table below shows the Big 6 as of Q3 2018 in order of the largest by number of customers shown as a percentage of the market.
|Energy Supplier||Market Share %|
Medium Sized Suppliers
Ofgem class energy companies as a medium supplier of energy after they achieve a greater than 1% market share. The quarter 2018 figures show that the medium suppliers now supply 17% of the market.
|Energy Supplier||Market Share %|
|Green Star Energy||1%|
The rest of the smaller energy suppliers in the market numbering less than 50 make up the rest of the 8% of energy companies.
Before the Big 6
Prior to 2010 only the Big 6 energy suppliers existed and served all of the UK market. The third quarter of 2018 the official Ofgem figures show the Big 6 losing a quarter of the market to smaller new suppliers.
|Energy Supplier||Market Share %|
Who is the Cheapest Energy Provider?
If you take a look at our page showing the current cheapest gas and electricity suppliers you will notice that there is an archive of the cheapest energy suppliers. Over time this changes but there are a few broad rules you can use to get the cheapest quote.
The largest suppliers are unlikely to offer you the lowest priced tariff. That's not to say that now and then they offer a good value deal but if you are looking for the absolute cheapest cost for your gas and electricity then the Big 6 are not the ones to get a quote from.
|In March 2019 the cheapest tariff was from Utility Point costing £883. By May 2020 Yorkshire Energy had the cheapest energy costing £743. The utility with the best deal changes over time and that savings can be significant. Switching at least once a year will save you money.|
As new companies enter the market they have no brand awareness, no-one has heard of them so you are unlikely to think of them when you switch. To attract customers they offer super low tariffs so when you use a price comparison service they show up first.
So it's the smaller newer energy companies I should switch too? In general yes for paying the lowest monthly cost over the course of a year. However if you are struggling to make ends meet then switching to a smaller provider usually means that you will have to pay your first monthly payment the day you join. This could mean a bill from your old supplier and new supplier in the same month.
If you have enough in your bank account to cover a more expensive first month then over the following months your monthly payments will be lower so you will save money compared to being with your current more expensive provider.
To get the absolute cheapest tariff you need to be aware of some of the issues you could face and not let it deter you from switching to a provider that will mean you save money on your energy bills.
How do I find the Cheapest Energy Provider?
|The 'Tariff Gap' or the difference between the cheapest and most expensive tariff is usually in the £100's. For example the March 2019 tariff gap was £601, a year later in March 2020 the gap had grown to £711.|
If you were willing to do a 'shed load' of research you could look at all the tariffs available from the 60 or so energy providers to find the cheapest. No-one in their right mind is going to do that, companies don't make it easy to find their prices and some don't show them online at all.
To give you an idea of how much effort is required the automatic switching service Switchd keeps 20,000 energy tariffs upto date.
Using an Energy Price Comparison Service
The most common method of finding a cheaper price is to use one of the energy price comparison services that provide quotes based on your location, usage and whether you are on a prepayment meter, economy seven, dual fuel to name a few considerations.
It is recommended that you use an Ofgem accredited comparison site as these sites follow Ofgems Confidence Code.
- Energy Helpline
- The Energy Shop
- Money Supermarket
- My Utility Genius
- Simply Switch
- Switch Gas and Electric
- Unravel It
As part of the research I have done to create this site I tested all of the accredited comparison sites and found that EnergyHelpline produced the most consistent lowest priced tariffs. They are able to achieve this as they have one of the largest switchable databases of around 20,000 tariffs.
Make sure that you enter your usage in kWh for gas and electricity for your annual usage. These figures should be available from your current energy supplier by looking at your latest statement.
|Having accurate energy usage figures for your Gas and Electricity in kWh will get you the most accurate quotes.|
When you do a comparison it will be based on the region you live in which is why they ask you for your postcode. It doesn't matter so much about knowing who your current provider is if you know roughly how much you pay a month as you can use this figure to get an idea on how much cheaper a potential new supplier is.
Compare the Whole of the Market
You may have heard the term 'compare the whole of the market' when it comes to comparing gas and electric price tariffs. By default most energy comparison services will show the tariffs that they can help you switch to.
You will generally be able to get an even cheaper gas and electric quote if you select the option to show all tariffs even the ones that they cannot switch you to.
It requires a bit more work on your behalf but if you are internet confident enough to do this you will be able to find cheaper tariffs they cannot switch you to themselves. You can go directly to the energy suppliers website and enter your details to get another quote and switch directly with the new energy supplier.
What if my current good deal is coming to an end and all the quotes are more expensive than my current deal?
If your current 1, 2 or 3 year fixed energy deal is coming to an end you need to find a new deal or risk defaulting onto your current energy supplier standard variable rate plan.
Standard variable rates (SVR's) or evergreen tariff is usually an energy supplier's most expensive tariff. This is the energy tariff you are moved onto when your fixed deal comes to an end.
To avoid paying a lot more for your gas and electricity you need to get gas and electric quotes from an energy comparison site.
If energy prices have fallen since last time you fixed your energy price then likelihood is that if you do a quick energy comparison you are going to find a cheaper energy deal and end up paying a lower monthly amount on your direct debit.
If energy prices have increased, firstly well done for fixing your prices back then to protect yourself from such price rises. However unfortunately fixed energy deals do not last forever (3 year fixed energy tariffs are the longest in the domestic energy market) and when they come to an end you have the choice of sticking with your current energy supplier (bad idea unless they have a great deal to switch to) or compare to find another deal.
When you have to find a new energy deal where prices have increased you are not going to find a cheaper deal than you are currently paying. You switch to a gas and electric tariff from your current supplier (don't default onto their standard variable rate, it's very expensive) and pay a higher monthly direct debit or you compare the market to find a better deal than your current supplier is offering.
Unfortunately you can't wait until energy prices come down again, you have to get your energy from one of the suppliers. The only way make sure that you are getting the best deal you can is to do an energy comparison.
If energy prices are high it is worth considering a variable rate tariff or a 1 year fixed deal with no exit fees. That way when prices do start to fall again you can switch again without fees to a much cheaper deal.
Is Cheapest Always Best
Getting the lowest priced energy deal is usually the most important factor but customer service is also a consideration for many. It doesn't matter which energy company you deal with, even the one you are with right now, you can still get problems.
If you never need to contact your new energy provider then the cheapest company can be a hassle free experience. However if you are unlikely enough to be that person who experiences problems and you have to contact the energy supplier then saving those few extra pounds can seem moot.
To get the absolute cheapest tariff do a manual comparison and choose the whole of market option (you may need to switch directly yourself).
For a cheaper gas and electric quote that is more straightforward use a price comparison service and let them switch you.
To save (but not as much as the first 2 options) without any ongoing hassle use an auto energy switching service.
I regularly switch which is the main reason I created Safe Energy Switch. I have experienced being a customer with many different energy providers. To give you an idea and keep in mind this is my own personal experience and yours is likely to differ here are some of the energy companies I have dealt with recently.
I was with Ecotricity for a number of years and the customer service I experienced was fantastic. They would answer the phone quickly, resolve issues and not pass me from pillar to post. However they are not the cheapest which is why I switched.
I spent about 6 months as an Outfox the Market customer. I knew their customer service wasn't great but I was gambling on never having to contact them. The switch to them went fine but they went through a period of increasing prices and changing Direct Debit frequently.
They were difficult to get hold off and when you did you would spend what seemed like ages talking to someone who never resolved your problem. I left them because of the poor customer service even though they were slightly cheaper than the next company I switched to.
People's Energy are basic, no frills and cheap. However the reason I switched to them was because of their ethos. They have Green electricity, treat customers well and give 75% of the profits back to customers. So far my experience with them has been great and I hope they will continue to provide a good service at one of the lowest prices...
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...although you have to continue comparing and if needs be switch to another energy provider should you find you are paying more than you think you should be paying. It is the only way you will know for sure if you have the best energy deal available.
Automatic Energy Switching
You can now auto switch energy suppliers using one of the many auto switching services available online. Essentially they are the same as standard energy price comparison sites except you only enter your details once and the switching service continues to keep checking and then switching you if they find a cheaper deal.
This type of automatic energy switching service is suited to those who do not want the hassle of having to keep on comparing and switching themselves. Whilst this type of service will suit many others wanting the absolute cheapest energy tariff will need to manually compare and if needed manually switch to get the cheapest price as no provider can switch you to every deal available.