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Checking your Tariff and Switching Fuel Supplier

Checking your Tariff and Switching Fuel Supplier

Our Home Energy Advice Team can provide advice and assistance to ensure that you are getting the best deal.

You can contact our team on 01259 450000 or email: fuelenergyadvice@clacks.gov.uk.

Checking that you are with the right energy supplier and on the right tariff can be confusing, as there are more than 40 different domestic energy suppliers offering a bewildering variety of tariffs.

One of the easiest steps to take is contacting your existing energy supplier to find out if you are on the cheapest tariff for how much energy you use.

Discounts

Some energy companies offer discounts for prompt payment and 'dual fuel' (ie having electricity and gas with the same supplier). In general, the very cheapest deals require you to pay by monthly Direct Debit and also to manage your energy account (or accounts) online. Our guide on how to pay for energy looks at different payment methods.

The larger energy suppliers are also obliged to provide a discount for vulnerable customers called the Warm Home Discount. If your household income is £16,000 per year or less, eligibility for this should be considered when comparing tariffs since some energy suppliers offer this to certain groups while others don't. If you are unsure about this, contact our Home Energy Advice Team.

Price comparison sites

If you decide that you are not happy with your current energy supplier, it is important to shop around. The best way to do this is by using internet price comparison sites.

OFGEM, the UK Government's regulator has a user friendly website for comparing prices and switching supplier: Be an Energy Shopper . This takes you through the steps involved, however please note that it does not deal with the Warm Home Discount.

Refer to the website to see all the OFGEM accredited price comparison sites .

When using a comparison site it is best to use your actual annual consumption figure. This is available from your bill or statement. Using this figure gives the most accurate comparison and ensures that any payments set by a new supplier will be accurate.

It is important to realise that the actual price you pay can increase or decrease depending on usage for example your use of heating depends on the weather. If after you have set payment levels, your supplier informs you of an increase which you consider to be unreasonable, you should contact your supplier and provide them with current meter readings. They will review your payment level, taking into account your actual usage.

Advice for customers who use prepayment meters

If you use prepayment meters for your fuel, it is important to do separate comparisons for your gas and for your electricity. Suppliers do not offer 'dual fuel' discounts for customers who pay by prepayment meters and different suppliers may be the cheapest for prepayment electricity and prepayment gas.

Tariffs

Make sure that the comparison site you are using includes all the available tariffs.

Most comparison sites obtain commission from the prospective supplier and some comparison sites will only show the ones they obtain commission from. Check the one you are using shows all the tariffs available and watch for boxes to tick if you want to see all available tariffs.

If you do not have either the actual consumption figures available for the year or if you are unsure of your monthly energy costs, then a comparison can be done using an estimate of whether you are a low, medium or high user.

The table below shows how these correspond to typical situations and annual usage figures in kilowatt hours (kWh).

Energy price comparison table
Category of UserLowMediumHigh
Typical situationSmall flatLarge flat or medium houseLarge house
Electricity/ year (kWh)2,0003,1004,600
Gas/year (kWh)8,00012,50018,000

No one supplier will be cheapest for all customers. The best deal for you will depend on many factors including:

  • how much electricity and gas you use
  • how you pay for electricity and gas
  • whether you can manage your accounts online or not
  • whether you prefer a variable, fixed or capped deal

Some useful questions to consider prior to changing supplier

  • What are the unit prices (pence per kWh) and for how long are they guaranteed?
  • Which payment methods are available?
  • Do different payment methods affect the unit prices?
  • How much is the standing charge?
  • How does the supplier rate in general for customer service?
  • Does the supplier have a high rate of complaints?

The switching process

If you are using a comparison site to change to a new supplier this can usually be done from their website and the only other action required by you would be to provide a meter reading at the time of changeover.

Alternatively, you can contact your chosen supplier and advise them that you want to change your supply to them. In this case the only other action required would be to provide a meter reading at the time of changeover.

You will be required to settle the outstanding bill with the old supplier based on the meter readings provided.

If you have substantial debt with your existing supplier they may block the transfer process. This should be discussed with your chosen supplier as it may still be possible to transfer to a new supplier.

Ensure you cancel any direct debit or standing order to your previous supplier after the transfer process has been concluded.
This whole process should take around 4-6 weeks to complete and your new supplier will be able to update you on progress. If you sign a contract but later change your mind there is a 7 day cooling off period in which you can cancel the contract without a penalty.

Always remember

  • Do not change supplier if you do not want to.
  • Be cautious of the claims salespeople make regarding the savings to be made by switching. Investigate yourself.
  • Do not invite door step salespeople into your home.
  • Always ask for identification.
  • Do not sign anything on the doorstep; be sure to read over information first.

Further information can be found on our Trading Standards page.

For Further Information Contact

Home Energy Advice Team
Kilncraigs, Greenside Street, Alloa, FK10 1EB
Tel: 01259 450000
Email: