As British people, we often have the tendency to be skeptical when free money is on the table. We’ve seen hundreds of scams and cold-call campaigns reach our homes only to become cold to their advances, but what if this is preventing us from really saving money? Gas and electricity bills really do have the potential to be lowered a great deal by simply switching the tariff that you are on. Since 1990, when the energy markets were privatized by Margaret Thatcher’s government, people throughout Great Britain have had the right to switch their energy provider whenever they so please. Read through this article and find out why you should be switching your tariff.
How many people are switching?
According to The Guardian, switching numbers are up 30% this year, making the total figure, up to September, 3.5 million switches in 2017. This is definitely an improvement, and it is clear to see more people are educating themselves about their bills, but there is still a huge way to go until we are all in the savings. It is said at least 10% of people that switch their energy tariff will save £618 or more per year, but people still don’t seem to want to take advantage of this.
There are roughly 30 million households in the UK, which means just over a tenth of people have switched in 2017 (not taking into account that some of those switches were made by the same household).
How much can you save?
There is no set figure as to how much you will save by switching, as every situation is completely different, but there’s one thing for certain, you will save something. You’ll be set to save the most if you are currently on an expensive tariff, namely those who have never switched before or have been reverted to a standard variable tariff.
The amount you are set to save will rely on a number of variables. These include:-
- Your current tariff
- Your new tariff
- Your yearly usage
- Your meter and payment type
- Where you property is located
How do you switch?
Switching tariffs has taken many forms in the last few years, but none more popular than the comparison engine. Comparison companies will take care of the switching for you and display the cheapest deals available to you in an easy to understand manner. In our opinion, it’s definitely the best way to compare energy tariffs.
In using one of these websites, you’ll be asked for a few basic details so they can make your estimate as accurate as possible. Most companies will be able to switch you over with as little as your name, address and bank details, but there are a few other bits of information that can be extremely useful, especially for your initial comparison. These can be:
- The name of your current tariff
- Your yearly usage/spend amount
- Your meter type
How long does it take?
Your part is extremely small. All you need to do is provide the switching company with your personal details and your desired tariff and that’s it. Once you have passed your details over, your role is over and you will later be informed as to when the switch has been completed. In terms of the switch on their end, this can now take no longer than 21 days due to OFGEM’s regulations.
The average switch time at present is around 15.5 days, but it can often be much quicker. After this date you will also have a 14 week window known as the ‘cooling off period’. This is your right as a consumer to change your mind about the contract you’ve just signed up for. Within this time you are legally within your rights to cancel your contract with no financial repercussions. After this point, however, prematurely cancelling your contract will likely incur some form of exit fee. Most companies charge around £40 per fuel.
What supplier should I choose?
It is not so much a question of which supplier you should choose, but of which tariff you should choose. There are tonnes of suppliers across Great Britain, some more ‘well-known’ than others, but don’t let their independent status put you off; all energy is exactly the same and each supplier has to be monitored and approved by OFGEM to even sell you anything.
When you carry out your comparison, you should go for the best tariff available to you on the market, with little care about who is actually supplying it. That said, you should actually first check the customer service ratings of the potential supplier before you go ahead with anything. The last thing that you want is to be calling numerous call centers and spending your entire weekend on hold.
In terms of ‘quality’, there is absolutely no difference between opting for British Gas and an independent supplier like iSupply Energy. They both do the same job, the price difference comes through their own structure and the way that they source energy.
Photo: Getty Images
Some links in this post may be paid.