News Article

Play it safe or make the switch?

by Eileen O'Haire | 21 September 2020

 

What is a good deal on your energy?

Switching suppliers is all about getting a better deal to save you money. But how do you know what a good deal looks like?

We measure energy in kilowatt-hours (kWh). Currently, the average electricity price is around 14.5p and gas is 4.2p per unit of energy (per kWh). The rate you are paying is given on your bills. But there are a lot of factors that can affect whether you can get the best or even average(!) rates. Some factors include your location (as some rural areas are more expensive) and how you pay your bills. You could ask your neighbours what they pay per unit, or use a tariff switching service to find out what rates are available near you.

The cheapest way to pay is online and by direct debit, but not everyone is able to do this – maybe because they are not internet-connected, or they have a pre-payment meter, or simply that they would prefer a physical bill sent to them every quarter.

 

Getting the best deal possible (even if you’re not online)

  • Shop around – unfortunately, loyalty to a company isn’t always rewarded. Staying with the same company for 20 years won’t get you the best deal on offer, they often switch you to an expensive variable tariff when your set term is up.
  • If you don’t ask you don’t get – Get a cheaper tariff without switching suppliers by asking your current company to switch you onto a better tariff. They can be quite helpful if they know you are thinking of leaving them!
  • Switch tariffs over the phone – Warm and Well work with UK Power which offers over-the-phone switching for those of us who don’t use the internet. Ring our freephone helpline 0800 500 3076 or follow the links on our Switching Supplier page.
    Note – When you switch over the phone you have a 14 cooling off period if you change your mind.
  • Move to a Duel Fuel Deal – companies often offer a discount when you buy your gas and electricity from the same company.
  • Give regular meter readings– by giving your exact usage the fuel companies won’t overestimate your bills and charge you more. Under-estimation can also be a problem as you can build up debt without realising it.

 

What are the different meters, and can I still switch?

Pre-payment meters

Generally, you will end up paying more if you have a pre-payment meter – though some people prefer it as you can pay ahead of time which can help with budgeting. If you are happy that you can always cover your bills it may be wise to consider a standard meter.

Can I switch suppliers on my pre-pay?

YES! As long as you don’t have any debt outstanding you can switch suppliers for a better deal. You can ask for the debt to transfer with you but usually, you have to clear the debt (even if it’s just a few pounds) before you can move suppliers.

Standard meter

You can request a change over to a standard meter if you have no outstanding debt on your pre-payment meter account. A standard meter is just your regular meter on the wall, that allows you to measure and pay for the fuel you use after you’ve used it.  Generally, these get better rates than pre-pay and it pays to look around.

 

Get support when you need it

Our Energy Advocate Service offers free help and support if you’re struggling to pay your fuel bills and are building up debt. They can discuss your options with you. Our Energy Advocates can be contacted via the Warm and Well helpline on 0800 500 3076.

Register onto the Priority Service Register (PRS) for free-fuel suppliers, water companies, and Western Power Distribution (WPD) Network offer a priority service to households with vulnerable members of the family. You can request large print bills, to have your meter read, and will be personally notified if there are any power cuts or disruption to the service. Registration is simple, please ask one of our advisers on the Warm and Well helpline 0800 500 3076.

You can also download our free guide on Understanding Your Fuel Bills, which gives some detailed information that will help you keep on top of your energy payments.

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