Energy providers have been making headlines lately with controversial price rises and a bewildering range of rates. Surveys suggest that a large proportion of households are paying over-the-odds for their energy but the sheer choice of tariffs can seem daunting - so how do you sift through them all?
Well the simple answer is there is no simple answer. Most of the major energy suppliers have several different products on offer and it's entirely down to the customer as to which one is best for them. So here are a few tips for getting the best deal. You can also get reliable information for research and price comparisons from sites such as Moneysupermarket.com.
A little bit of legwork can make a lot of difference. If you haven't paid much attention to your tariff up to now then chances are you're paying more than you need to. Simply entering a few basic details on a comparison site will give you estimates from many different companies. Even if you decide to stay with the same supplier you can always tailor-make your tariff.
Combine Your Bills
If your property has both gas and electricity that doesn't mean you have to have two different suppliers. Combined billing will cut down both your costs and your paperwork.
Fixed Payment and Fixed Price
These may sound similar but can mean very different bills. Fixed payment means monthly instalments of the same amount over the course of the year. This is generally how standard tariffs are paid but savings can be made by submitting regular meter readings to your supplier. These help calculate whether you have been charged correctly and, if you have been careful with your usage, which can often result in a rebate. Fixed price tariffs involve an agreed price for a set time, meaning you're safeguarded against any increases. This method involves the least amount of effort on your part - but you could lose out if the company decides to lower its rates. And look out for hidden charges if you decide to exit early.
Online Accounts and Direct Debit
Most providers now allow you to control your account online. This means you can submit regular meter readings and pay for what you use. Paperless billing usually means an extra discount, as well as the peace of mind from saving a few trees. Almost every supplier offers a discount if you arrange Direct Debit payment too.