Hey, let`s talk about switching your energy provider…..what`s that? You`d rather cut your toenails with scythe? Well ok we`ll admit it`s not the hot topic of the century and there`s plenty of other things to occupy your precious time so why would you to talk about it now? Well what if there was something in it for you? Would that interest you?
Let`s take a look in more detail….
So what`s in it for you? Well the Telegraph seem to think that there`s about £400 in it for you every single year. Well ok it`s not going to take you on the holiday of a lifetime but what could you do with an extra £400? Well it could come in very handy at Christmas or, if you happen to take that holiday, then a bit of extra spending money certainly wouldn`t go amiss either. But in reality £400 split down over the year worth about £33 a month which, in this context is even less impressive. Still, better in your pocket than some energy company fat cat. You`ll part with the money sooner or later so you might as well make them work for it after all
So you`ve decided to become an awkward disloyal punter then, good for you - one back in the eye for the man (or indeed the lady) who keeps on putting your utility bills up. Yeah let`s be rebels and stick it to `em! So...erm...how exactly do you do that then, after all what do you really know about changing energy providers? What it you make a complete bugger of it and end up paying more? What if you get locked into a deal that`s good for a year but ties you in for another five years of rotten high energy bills. You can feel your resolve waning at the thought of it all now can`t you?
Well don`t despair because help is at hand, well at your fingertips at any rate, as one former prime minister once said the answer is education, education, education and you can get your energy education from our old friend… the internet. Yes it`s time to go compare the market with a meerkat and find a deal that could see U Switch quite easily and make a small killing.
Now if you`re wondering what on earth all that means let`s be clearer about it. The TV is thick with adverts for comparison websites advertising people who will compare all the available deals for you and put you onto the right path. They won`t even charge you for it because they will be paid by a grateful energy provider who just secured your business for a while. But it doesn`t stop there because now the website has your details so they can let you know what available when your insurance is due for renewal or when it`s time to find a new broadband deal or TV package. Suddenly that £400 that you saved on your energy bills might be joined by another £200 from your broadband package according to the comparison website Ctrlio and the Association of British Insurers think another £150 is available just by shopping around. £750 just by filling in a few forms in online, worth a few minutes work don`t you think?
The energy comparison websites seem to think so, that`s why so many have been created over the last few years, Ofgem has a list of 11 comparison websites that they approve as a good place to look when comparing deals because they adhere to the Confidence Code. It`s certainly worth looking at the website at ofgem.gov.uk before you take the plunge with any old website.
Ok so now you`re educated, let`s get down to the nitty gritty, what kind of a deal do you want? What do you mean you don`t know? Oh for heaven`s sake you just spent all your spare time getting educated didn`t you? Well it seems that facts and figures aren`t everything and perhaps it`s time to apply some good old common sense to the matter. We worried earlier that we might get drawn in by something that looks like a good deal only to be held captive later on in a contract that we can`t easily (or cheaply) escape from so it`s a good idea to ask some hard questions before signing on the dotted line or indeed filling in a direct debit mandate. What kind of questions? These:
How long is the energy price going to be fixed for?
How long will I be tied into a contract for when the introductory offer ends?
What will it cost me to get out of the contract if your prices go up?
Is the fixed rate cheaper than a variable rate that I can change any time?
Once you get used to the idea of changing your provider you might find that you don`t want to be tied into a contract because you can keep the price low by migrating to the cheapest provider every couple of months. On the other hand you might just find that you don`t have the time and you want a fixed price for a fixed time and offset the rate rises with your monthly savings. When all is said and done the decision is yours alone.
Once upon a time, life was very simple, you paid the gas board for you gas, the electricity board for your electricity, that water board for your water and that was that. Ah the good old days the good guys wore white, the baddies wore black and Britain was on strike. Then another former Prime Minister thought it would be a giggle if we sold off the national utility companies creating lots of market competition and driving prices down in the process. Well the best laid plans of mice and men etc…
So now you can buy your gas from you electricity company, your electricity from you gas company and your cheese from a retired Brit-Pop star. Has the world gone mad? Very probably but since when did that matter? The fact is there are no end of people in the 21st century who are prepared to sell you something that you they would have had nothing to with in the 20th - David Hasselhoff flogging frozen waffles? The case for the prosecution rests....
The energy market is no exception either, it makes sense that in a world of wholesale energy production that buying in bulk leads to buying cheaper and if it works for the energy providers why not make it work for you. The majority of energy providers will sellyou gas or electricity and if the more of it they can sell the cheaper they can buy it for. So it`s perhaps no great surprise that an energy provider will offer you an incentive to buy their gas as well as their electricity.
There are some good arguments for going for a dual fuel tariff, even if you could get your bills down slightly by using separate providers. For instance according to cable.co.uk it can cut down on household admin - one smart meter / one bill to pay and it can work out cheaper if you can find the right deal.
There are as ever arguments against to, for instance, a dual fuel tariff is often fixed whereas a single variable tariff can be swapped one at a time - if you`re comfortable with your gas bill but your electricity bill is horrific you can simply change the offending service for a cheaper one. Be careful though, with exit fees of between £10 and £40 a time you could easily blow that saving you thought you were making.There`s also this question of household admin, maybe you aren`t especially pushed for time and you want to check through your bills thoroughly to get a better understanding of where an alternative economy might be made, does somebody you know spend too long in the shower in a morning perhaps?
So now you`ve had a think about changing energy providers why not take a look at what`s on offer and see what you could save just by filling in a few lines of text. Energy comparison site USwitch claim that 84% of us don`t change when we can so unless you do, perhaps it`s time to be a rebel and make a change.