Compare gas and electricity prices to save on your bills

Couple sitting on sofa and looking to compare gas and electricity prices

An estimated 11 million UK households pay too much for their energy. Here is why it pays to compare gas and electricity prices to make sure you’re not one of them.

Here are two quick questions. When did you last compare the gas and electricity prices on your bills to the best ones available? And do you know how easy it is to switch to a cheaper deal?

In Great Britain, energy prices are regulated by Ofgem, which is shorthand for the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets. On 1 October 2020, Ofgem lowered the price cap it imposes on energy suppliers every six months to ensure they are charging fair prices. 

But that doesn’t ensure you are paying the lowest price. In fact, it is estimated there are still more than 11 million households who are on expensive standard variable tariffs with one of the ‘big six’ energy providers: Centrica (British Gas), E.ON, npower, EDF Energy, ScottishPower and SSE.

What is a standard variable tariff?

Ofgem has two definitions for a standard variable tariff (SVT): ‘a supply contract with an indefinite length that does not have a fixed-term applying to the terms and conditions’ and, more revealingly, ‘an energy supplier’s basic offer’. The second is more shorthand: it might also mention that an SVT is typically a supplier’s most expensive tariff and can cost hundreds of pounds more each year than the cheapest deals either on the market or from the same supplier.

Yet a recent Ofgem report stated that 53% of UK homes were on their supplier’s standard plan, and approximately half of those had been on the same expensive tariff for more than three years.

Why? Well, customers end up on an SVT for a number of reasons: they didn’t choose a specific deal in the first instance; their cheaper fixed-rate deal expired and their energy supplier moved them to a standard deal (this is common practice); or perhaps they recently moved home.

Fixed-rate deals are cheaper and give households peace of mind that they do not need to compare gas and electricity prices more than once a year. And the best energy deals are still more than £200^ cheaper than the energy price cap of £1,042^ per year for average usage.  

How to compare gas and electricity prices

The Telegraph Energy Comparison Service provided by Energy Helpline makes it easy to compare energy prices. All you need are a few basic details such as the name of your current supplier and how much you are paying, and they will compare the prices of all available gas and electricity deals.

Your results will be displayed in order of price, showing you the biggest savings you can make on your bills. You can rank suppliers based on their service ratings, which are based on complaint levels, call-centre hours and online services. Low energy prices don’t always mean low service levels.

You often get discounts for dual fuel deals (this means you get your gas and electricity from the same supplier), plus the convenience of only dealing with one energy bill. But if you just want to find the cheapest electricity provider, for instance if you have Economy 7 or oil heating, you can look at those prices by themselves.

  • Spending more time at home can result in energy bills rising - Switch now and you could save up to £641*

How to switch gas and electricity providers

If you like what you see, you can switch providers online or via the Energy Helpline UK call centre on 0330 162 3966. They will contact your new supplier, who will arrange the changeover with your old supplier and keep you up to speed with what is happening with your energy supply.

Telegraph Financial Solutions The Energy Switching

˜Ofgem state of market report 2019 https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/state-energy-market-2019

^Costs are for an average UK home paying by monthly direct debit on a standard gas and electricity tariff. Average usage is currently defined by the energy regulator Ofgem as 12,000 kWh of gas and 2,900 kWh of electricity per year. If your usage is higher or lower than this, the rates will be fixed and the amount you pay will depend on your usage.

*10% of customers switching their gas and electricity bills with the Telegraph Switching Service and Energy Club between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 saved £641 or more.

Prices correct as of 08/10/2020.

The above article was created for Telegraph Financial Solutions, a member of The Telegraph Media Group. For more information on Telegraph Financial Solutions click here.