Energy bills are about to rise for millions of households across the UK as British Gas and EDF confirm price hikes.
The average standard variable tariff bill now stands at £1,151 per year, and other suppliers could well follow suit in the coming weeks.
But instead of just accepting the price hikes and paying out more, there are easy and quick things you can do right now to cut your bills – by more than £200 a year in some cases.
Switching your energy provider is the easiest way to save and you cold knock £200 off your bill
British Gas confirmed a price hike on Tuesday of 5.5 per cent, or £60 a year, for those with a standard variable tariff from May 29th while EDF then said prices would rise by 1.4 per cent, or £16 a year, from June 7.
Switching energy bills is the biggest way for most people to make a significant dent in their gas and electricity bills but there are lots of other ways to save money.
Here we’ve picked out seven of the easiest, if you have any better suggestions please leave them in the comments box.
1. Switching energy firms could cut £269 off your annual bills
If you’re paying your provider’s standard variable tariff, and you’re with one of the big six energy firms, chances are you’re overpaying.
Not only are prices on the rise for the big six, these bills are typically the most expensive tariffs on the market and consumers with one are likely to be paying more than they need to.
The average cost, with the recent price hikes factored in, is £1,151 and currently the most expensive provider is Npower, at an average of £1,166 per year. This is £269 more expensive than the cheapest energy tariff available.
Even if you’re not with a big six firm, if you’re paying your provider’s standard tariff you may still be paying too much. Therefore it’s always worth checking if there are savings to be made by switching, and you can do this quickly online.
You might still be able to save money on your energy bills if you stay with the same provider
If you do switch remember that if you’re in the fixed-term period of your current contract you may have to pay an exit fee. Factor this into the overall savings, in some cases you’ll still be making a saving but if not it makes sense to stick with your current provider until the end of the fixed period.
You won’t have to wait until the fixed period is completely over either as if you’re in the last 49 days the fee will be waived.
Mark Todd, spokesperson for Energyhelpline said: ‘Customers who stay on standard tariffs are literally burning their money when they turn on the heating.
‘To beat the price rises and pay a reasonable bill I urge you to take a few minutes to switch today.
‘Energy is the easiest big bill to switch and using a comparison service you can compare the whole energy market. There are over 70 suppliers now to choose from.
‘EDF customers who pay by cash or cheque are confronted with an even higher price rise: 2.3 per cent (£28) on a typical dual fuel bill with their average bill rising from £1,220 a year to £1,248 a year. These customers really do need to switch and move to direct debit if they can.’
|Provider||Tariff||Annual average cost||Average annual savings||Cancellation Fee|
|Brilliant Energy||Fair Deal 3.7b Fixed 1 Year Paperless Billing||£867||£269||£29 per fuel|
|Together Energy||Together Fixed April19||£872||£263||£30 per fuel|
|Utility Point||Just Up 18 Wk14||£875||£260||£36 per fuel|
|Brilliant Energy||Fair Deal 3.5b Fixed 1 Year Paperless Billing||£876||£259||£29 per fuel|
|Brilliant Energy||Fair Deal 3.5b Fixed 1 Year Paper Billing||£882||£253||£29 per fuel|
|Brilliant Energy||Fair Deal 3.7b Fixed 1 Year Paper Billing||£887||£249||£29 per fuel|
|Brilliant Energy||Fair Deal 3.7 Fixed 1 Year Paperless Billing||£887||£248||£29 per fuel|
|Solarplicity||Solarplicity’s 12 month Fixed April 2018||£887||£248||£30 per fuel|
|Solarplicity||Solarplicity’s Standard Variable||£887||£248||NA|
|Brilliant Energy||Fair Deal 3.3 Fixed 1 Year Paperless Billing||£890||£245||£29 per fuel|
|Brilliant Energy||Fair Deal 3.7 Fixed 1 Year Paper Billing||£897||£238||£29 per fuel|
|Brilliant Energy||Fair Deal 3.3 Fixed 1 Year Paper Billing||£900||£235||£29 per fuel|
|Brilliant Energy||Fair Deal 3.5 Paperless Billing||£903||£232||£29 per fuel|
|Zebra Power||Zebra Fixed Rate April 2019 v1||£904||£232||£30 per fuel|
|Brilliant Energy||Fair Deal 3.2 Version elec||£904||£231||£30 per fuel|
|Brilliant Energy||Fair Deal 3.5 Paper Billing||£907||£228||£29 per fuel|
|So Energy||So Lion||£907||£228||£5 per fuel|
|first:utility||Smart First June 2019 Online||£907||£228||£30 per fuel|
|Pure Planet||100% green||£908||£228||NA|
|Source: Energyhelpline, 11/04/2018. Average savings calculated against the average Big Six standard tariff including announced price rises from EDF, E.ON and BG. Tariffs listed here are those widely able to switch to, the cheapest on the market is £807.|
2. Grab free energy efficient measures for your home
Homes which have the correct energy efficient measures in place such as loft insulation will be able retain more heat and therefore use less energy.
A quarter of a home’s heat is lost through the roof if there is no insulation, according to the Energy Saving Trust, and a semi-detached house could make savings of £130 per year with it.
Installation costs for both loft and cavity wall insulation are around £700 but it may be possible to get this done for free.
Several of the big six energy firms offer free insulation – even if you’re not one of their customers – so it’s well worth contacting your supplier, and the rest of the big six, to see if you’re eligible.
3. If you’re in credit to your supplier you can ask for the money back
Households that pay for their energy via direct debit pay a certain set amount each month for their gas and electricity.
This is worked out based on a number of things including regular readings given and (if you’re new to the house), how much the previous person used on average.
But this also means that for some months of the year – usually when it’s warmer so during summer and spring – your energy account will be in credit.
This is your money and it is possible, if you want the cash, to contact your supplier and ask for this to be transferred to another account.
Some energy firms offer in-credit interest on balances, and this may be higher than you can find in a savings account but it’s always worth checking to make sure you’re earning as much as possible.
However, if you are going to do this, and then during the winter your bills rise, you need to make sure you have the cash on hand to meet the increased cost.
The same rule applies if you’re switching suppliers and you’re currently in credit. The remaining money should be paid back to you automatically but if not, check the balance and ask your old supplier to refund you.
4. Cut your energy usage
It sounds simple enough but if you change the way you’re using your gas and electricity, and if you’re able to reduce your usage, your bills will go down.
This can be from a number of different factors, including; turning off appliances when you’re not using them, turning the thermostat down, wearing an extra layer if it’s chilly, only having the heating on when you need it, and using energy efficient appliances.
Small changes can make quite a big difference. If you turn your main central heating thermostat down by 1˚C, for example, then you could typically save around £85 to £90 a year – if you live in a typical three-bedroom semi-detached house with gas central heating.
While turning off the lights when you’re not using them and when you leave the room can cut around £15 off your annual electricity bills.
Paying via direct debit and using an online account could cut £10 or more off your annual bills
5. Paying via direct debit and with an online account may be cheaper
If you’re able to pay your energy bills via direct debit, so one fixed payment is made per month, this could be cheaper than other methods.
Having an online account, and choosing paperless billing, can also cut your bills, often by around £10-20 per year.
It’s easy to make these changes to your account as you just need to contact your provider. In order to pay via direct debit the firm will need to perform a credit check to make sure you’re in a position to make the monthly payments.
6. You can still save money even if you don’t switch suppliers
There are still savings to be had even if you don’t want to switch suppliers and depending on your provider, how long you’re been a customer, and what your current tariff is – the savings could be significant.
While typically the biggest savings are still to be had by switching providers, if your current supplier is offering a cheaper tariff than the one you’re currently on, you could switch to it and cut your bills.
To find out if you could save, contact your supplier and ask if what the cheapest tariff available is, if it’s less than your current deal then ask it if you can switch.
There are free energy efficient measures on offer such as loft insulation from some providers
7. Claim back cash if your gas man is late or doesn’t turn up
If you’ve booked an appointment for someone from your energy firm to come to your house and read your gas meter, you’ll be in line for a £30 pay out if they don’t turn up within the four-hour slot.
Then if the money isn’t paid within 10 days, you can claim for a further £30 and receive £60 compensation in total.
If this happens contact your energy firm and tell it what has happened and how much it needs to pay you. If for some reason it doesn’t agree, you can make an official complaint to it. It then has eight weeks and after this point you can escalate the complaint to the Energy Ombudsman.
Similar rules apply if your water supply is cut off. If it’s a planned interruption and lasts for more than four hours, the provider must give 48 hours written notice and must restore your water supply in the time stated.
If you weren’t notified you should be able to claim £20 in compensation and if the water isn’t turned back on in the given time, you should be entitled to a further £20. Then if the money isn’t paid within 20 working days, a further £20 should be paid. For full details on your firm’s rules, check the Ofwat website.
QUICK MONEY SAVER: CAN YOU CUT YOUR BILLS?
Energy firms are constantly battling to pinch customers from each other.
Shrewd consumers can take advantage of this by reviewing deals every year to ensure they are on the cheapest deal. Even moving every other year will save you significant amounts.
If you are one of the millions of people who have NEVER switched (i.e. stuck with your original supplier), then you should save a big chunk of cash. A tenth of switchers saved as much as £537 in 2017, according to energyhelpline.
You only need to be interested in the tariff that is going to be cheapest where you live, so do your own postcode comparison in minutes using the tool above – or here – to find the best price.
Read more about other quick tricks to make sure you are getting the best deal on your household bills here