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Unfold Close   MONEY SAVING ON UTILITY BILLS

If you’re enjoying an ice cream in the sun, winter energy bills may seem distant, yet energy price hikes means this could be your last chance to switch to the cheapest deals, as they're disappearing. But, act now and you could save £300 a year.

We've shouted about it for years, but the cheapest deals are for switchers, vastly undercutting the rest. This guide tells you how you can switch.

CHAPTER  I -Now's a great time to switch energy tariff

Even though EDF, British Gas, Npower, E.on, Scottish Power and SSE shaved just over 5% off their gas prices earlier this year, if you're on a big six standard tariff, you're still massively overpaying.

And our research suggests the price cutting trend has reversed, and the cheapest deals are disappearing - likely due to Brexit and the weak pound. Back in May, someone with typical usage could lock their energy for just £724, and there were five firms offering tariffs under £750 a year. Now, the cheapest fixed deal is £758 for a year’s usage.

1.- Compare to find YOUR cheapest price (plus possible cashback)

The winner depends on where you live and your usage, so use our Cheap Energy Club top picks comparison to find YOUR exact winner (plus £30 switchers dual fuel cashback) – it only take five minutes. Here's an example of savings...

The Cheapest Dual Fuel Deals (based on typical usage)
Find YOUR cheapest & YOUR SAVING via Cheap Energy Club

TARIFF

SUPPLIER

COST/YEAR

EXIT FEE

CASHBACK VIA CHEAP ENERGY CLUB

Typical big six standard tariff (1)

-

£1,063

-

-

Cheapest one-year fix with no exit fees

Avro Energy

£758

None

None

Cheap one-year fix

GB Energy Supply

£780

£30 / fuel

None

Cheap two-year fix

Places for People

£842

£30 / fuel

£60 dual fuel / £30 single

Tariffs correct as of 14 July 2016. Based on Ofgem calculations for medium usage. All tariffs assume monthly direct debit. Varies by region. (1) Estimated average across the big six.

2.- Energy switching Q&A

Worried about the pitfalls of switching? Here's a quick video on how to avoid them- https://youtu.be/mm3IjUWgDTs  As well as the video, we've also answered the most common switching questions posted on TwitterFacebook and ourforum. See the answers below.

  • - Comparing shows a fix'll cost me more – should I still do it?
  • - I have a prepay meter. Can I switch or fix my energy tariff?
  • - Should I take a short, cheaper fix, or fix long? I can't decide
  • - How much did prices drop in 2016?
  • - Switching questions, including 'I'm in debt, can I switch?' and 'Is it a big hassle?'

CHAPTER II - Get CONSTANTLY cheap energy with MSE's free Cheap Energy Club

Our Cheap Energy Club is designed to keep you constantly on the cheapest tariff – fighting the fact most cheap deals only last 1-2 years before their rates rise. It does this by...

  • Finding you the cheapest deal. If you're already on it, great. If not, it'll help you switch. You usually get £30 cashback on top for a dual fuel switch or £15 cashback for switching just gas or electricity.
  • Then constantly monitoring your tariff. Each month, without you doing anything, we do a background comparison to check yours is still cheapest.
  • Alerting you when it's time to switch (again). If you can save money switching either because your rate's changed, or others have, we'll tell you.

Energy bills work a bit like phones – you have the standing charge (like line rental, you pay it regardless) and the usage charge (like calls). Many who go away for some of the year want to avoid a standing charge – so Cheap Energy Club now lets you compare all 'no standing charge' tariffs.

Cheap Energy Club's results also show which tariffs will and which won't be eligible for the Warm Home discount. This is a Government discount of £140 you can get during winter - if you qualify. It also shows which tariffs are made of 100% renewable electricity.

And finally, in the past our alert emails went just to the person who registered, but lots of you said you wanted somebody else copied in, so we've added that function too. Do it when you register, or add them to the account details page if you're already a member.

Comparison sites don't always show all tariffs by default

It's also possible to get cashback for switching from comparison sites. Bear in mind though that some comparison sites by default only show you tariffs you can switch to via them (ie, where they're paid commission). This filters out some results –Cheap Energy Club shows you ALL those available by default.

If you do use a comparison site always make sure you've selected the option to show all available tariffs to get the full picture before making a decision. 

For more help switching energy via comparison sites click here

CHAPTER III - Not switched for a while?

A recent CMA investigation into the energy market found that 70% of big six customers are still on expensive standard tariffs, paying an estimated £1.4 billion a year more on average than they would on more competitive tariffs.

To encourage switching, the CMA announced proposals to force suppliers to give Ofgem details of everyone that has been on standard tariffs for more than 3 years. This will be entered into a database to allow rival suppliers to contact customers by letter and offer cheaper deals based on their actual energy usage

But don’t worry about spam, the CMA say you will be able to opt out of being contacted by post, and you will only be contacted electronically if you explicitly choose to opt in.

These measures are expected to be finalised by the end of the year, and will likely be implemented at the beginning of 2017.

CHAPTER IV - Switch to monthly direct debit to save £75

Fixed monthly direct debit payments, where you pay a fixed estimate each month, can usually save you £75/year as companies are sure you won't default and they earn interest on any overpayments. So if you can do this, go for it. Depending on your supplier, any overpayments are refunded automatically or on request.

Plus don't assume dual fuel (getting gas & electricity from one supplier) is cheapest. When comparing, check the cheapest separate suppliers too.

CHAPTER V - FREE insulation & boilers

Energy efficiency can seriously cut bills. There are wads of freebies on offer from energy providers, from new boilers to loft and cavity wall insulation.

It's all part of their efficiency obligations to people in certain groups. The full Free Insulation & Boilers guide has more, but below's a taster of what you can get and what it'll save you.

  • Boiler replacement or repair. Heating accounts for around 60% of what you spend in a year on energy bills. The more efficient your boiler, the more heat it produces from each gas unit.

Depending on your boiler's age, a shiny new efficient one could save you up to £350/year. New boilers typically cost £2,300 – a fabulous freebie.

  • Cavity wall insulation. Most homes built since 1920 have a gap between internal and external walls. Filling the cavity with insulating mineral wool and foam means cold air's kept out, and warm air stays in. It can save an average three-bedroom home up to £160/year.
  • Loft insulation. Up to a quarter of your home's heat escapes via the roof, but you can solve this by laying mineral wool under the rafters, saving up to £140/yr.

CHAPTER VI - Got electricity only? You can still save

If you don't have a gas supply, don't think the rules are different. If you only have electricity you can still save serious cash using the comparisons. Use Cheap Energy Club or the other comparison sites listed above to compare electricity prices.

CHAPTER VII - How to save if you're on a key/card meter

While a push from the Government means it's getting better, those on prepayment (key/card) meters are still pretty hard done by, certainly compared to those who pay by direct debit. If possible, switch to a billed meter. You may have to pay, but the savings are usually worth it.

Often they won't let you though, due to credit score or income difficulties. For full info on how to ditch a prepayment meter for a credit meter, or if you can't, how to save on a prepay meter, see the full Cheap Prepaid Gas & Elec guide. If you can't get a normal meter, you can switch and save (compare prepay tariffs).

» Read more

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