Compare Cheap Energy Prices and Suppliers
Following the ups and downs, the mergers and acquisitions, the buyouts, sell-offs and changes in policy of the UK energy market can be a bit a little confusing. However, if you’re thinking of switching energy suppliers there really is no option but to buckle down and do the homework necessary to try and make sense of your options. On the bright side, the UK energy landscape does have one thing going for it: it’s very competitive, meaning that if you invest a little time and energy in research it won’t be difficult to choose the best energy provider in the UK.
You can use a reputable comparison site such as Money Supermarket which is probably the fastest and easiest way to compare Gas and Electricity prices. When you use Money Supermarket it will also direct you straight through to a chosen supplier if you choose to switch.
Once you have made your decision and chosen the best energy supplier in the UK you could even consider using a service such as uSwitch to switch providers without the hassle of having to communicate between your new and old provider yourself.
The uSwitch service is extremely pain free and there is no cost to use the service. If you want to go that one step further and really save those pennies you could also use uSwitch through one of the highest paying cashback services, TopCashback which pay up to £28 cashback to switch energy provider in the UK.
Which is the Best Energy Tariff?
Before you get started it’s important to know the different types of tariff that are out there, some may come under different names but the majority fall under the below labels. When making a decision to switch you need to clarify what exactly you will get with the tariff you choose and if there are any charges or exit fees to change from your current supplier.
Read the terms and conditions of each tariff carefully as they will differ between energy suppliers in the UK.
- The Variable Tariff: With a variable tariff the price you pay for electricity fluctuates with what it costs the company to produce that electricity. That means that when things like oil are cheap your rate will likely decrease. On the other hand you have no protection should the price of source materials skyrocket.
- The Fixed Tariff: The fixed tariff will keep the cost you pay per unit at a stable rate. You’ll pay a bit more when the price of source materials are low but you’ll save when the cost of source materials rise. Unlike variable tariffs, however, you’ll be locked into your contract for at least a year. So think before you take this option.
- Capped tariffs: Capped tariffs are a kind of hybrid between the variable and fixed tariffs and thus can be somewhat confusing. If it costs the producer less to generate power then you’ll save, also knows as a variable tariff. However you’re going to pay a higher base rate than you’d pay with a standard fixed tariff so you may wind up saving little or nothing.
- Pre-Payment Tariffs: These tariffs are available for people who like to prepay for their gas and electric, you will have a prepayment meter which is usually situated outside your property and you will be given a card or token that you can top up via certain supermarkets or at the Post Office. The prepayment gas and electric tariff is usually chosen by individuals who find it easier to manage their finances by monitoring exactly how much they are spending. Please be aware this tariff is usually the most expensive option with the most expensive rates.
- Green Energy Tariffs: Most utility providers in the UK that offer a Green Energy tariff are usually concious about reducing their carbon footprint and normally somewhat involved with generating their own renewable energy. A Green Energy Tariff can mean one of two things, the supplier will match your usage with that from a renewable energy source or it will contribute to a green energy scheme on your behalf. These tariffs are great if you want to do your bit for the environment.
Now that we’re all on the same page regarding tariff options here are some other things to keep in mind when searching for a new energy provider.
What to Consider when Switching Energy Providers
- Switching is normal: Large companies are constantly looking for better deals, you should too. Don’t be shy about taking advantage of competition and an ever-changing market to secure yourself the best deal possible.
- The company you knew probably doesn’t exist anymore: A lot of people pick a brand based on what they grew up with. Problem is, while the brand name may still exist chances are better than good the company has been sold and resold so many times it no longer exists, at least as you knew it. So keep an open mind and look at what everyone has to offer.
- Determine your level of risk aversion: If you’re a bit of a gambler you may want to go with an unproven provider and a variable tariff. If you’re more of a ‘play it safe type’ you’ll probably want to go with a fixed tariff from a provider with a proven record of outstanding customer service, even if it costs you a bit more.
- Take the time to look at comparison websites: There are a lot of them out there, including diverse-energy.com, and they’re good sources of information that can help you make an informed decision. You’ll do well though to verify any claims made on these sites that seem too good to be true or run contrary to the facts as you understand them.
- Listen to what others are saying: Often times the best source of information about a company is their current customer base. Many consumer websites will have information on various energy companies as well as space for people to air their grievances and the company’s current customer satisfaction rating.
- Be thorough: Simply reading a few brochures and asking your next door neighbour isn’t really going to be enough to get a clear picture of your options. Because the energy landscape shifts so frequently today you really need to step back and conduct a thorough examination before making any decisions.
- Make sure you read any contracts before you sign: This may seem like the kind of common sense thing everyone does, but in reality many people just buy the marketing and neglect the fine print. However, the devil, as the old saying goes, is in the details. And nowhere is that more apparent than when it comes to signing a contract with an energy provider.
- Explore alternatives: Often consumers searching for a new energy provider will fail to investigate alternative producers; those who generate their power from wind, sun, water or other renewable or otherwise sustainable sources. Power is power though, and so it’s worth looking into alternatives. You may be pleasantly surprised.
- Install a smart meter: Installing a smart meter can help you save money regardless of which company you choose to be your energy provider. A smart meter will show you which hours of the day your energy use spikes and provide you relevant information on your energy consumption habits. This will in turn allow you to make adjustments to your lifestyle that can save you money.
- Be patient: The one factor that will, more than any other, determine if you find the right energy provider at the right price will be your level of patience with the process. It never pays in the long run to be in a hurry when it comes to such things as you’ll almost always wind up paying more than you should. So take a deep breath and accept that the process will take some time.
The search for the right energy company is not the straightforward process it was in your parent’s time. Privatization and other forces have turned what was a simple to understand energy landscape dominated by one or two players into a multifaceted cornucopia of competing companies large and small offering energy produced by everything from splitting the atom to harnessing ocean waves. In the end though the best deals always go to the best informed. So make sure to investigate all your options and you’re sure to find a dependable product at a fair price.