Your options are limited when it comes to trimming down your energy bills, but you have options nonetheless…
Here’s how you could turn your fuel bill frustrations into financial savings, whether British Gas started charging 12.5% more for your electricity in September 2017 or you’re among the 70% of UK households on expensive Standard Variable Tariffs – from the likes of EDF Energy, nPower, E.On, Scottish Power or SSE. MoneySupermarket claimed those providers are almost £300 a year more expensive than the top 20 British tariffs. And you don’t necessarily have to settle for it.
1. Switch energy supplier before winter
If you can afford to pay your outstanding bills, switching to a cheaper tariff could save you as much as £250. You could change suppliers every 28 days if you really want to. But shopping around at least once a year, on comparison websites like GoCompare, USwitch or MoneySuperMarket, will make sure you’re getting the best deal from small suppliers or companies like First Utility, Ovo or Co-op Energy. If you have 42 days or less until your current plan expires, you don’t even have to pay exit fees.
The cheapest energy plans tend to be those that are capped for your entire contract or off-peak rates – ideal when you use more energy overnight than during the day.
To switch, call your new supplier and give them your current meter reading. You’ll also need to tell them how much gas and electricity you use in kilowatt hours, as shown on your recent bill or annual energy statement. Plus, your postcode, bank details and the name of your current supplier and tariff.
2. Cool food before putting it in the fridge
Can’t switch because you have a prepayment metre and owe more than £500 for gas or electricity? Make your appliances run more efficiently to keep your energy costs down by using less energy. Position your oven and freezer away from your oven, for example. Defrost your freezer to stop ice building up and only put cold food in the fridge, so it doesn’t use more electricity to work extra hard.
3. Avoid smart meters
Smart meters show you how much you’re spending on gas and electricity in real time, by measuring your usage. Scottish Power said the cost of installing them was one of the reasons for their 7.8% price hike.
See, you don’t pay up front for your smart meter. Roughly £6 a year is added to your energy bills to cover the cost and it could take years for any energy savings to outweigh the installation costs – especially because it’s hard to change your spending habits long term.
4. Claim for Warm Home Discount if you’re eligible
Do you claim means-tested benefit such as Universal Credit or Jobseekers’ Allowance? You might be able to claim for the Warm Heating Discount – a one-off £140 discount on your energy bill in winter, taken off your bill, not paid in cash. Energy companies with 250,000 or more customers must take part in the scheme, including British Gas, Scottish Power, SSE, E.On, EDF Energy and npower.
Alternatively, you might qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment if you were born before 5th August 1953 – giving you between £100 and £300 towards your heating bill costs.
5. Dispute your bill
When you’re overcharged or your final bill doesn’t match your smart meter, call your energy supplier to try to recover your money – use these numbers to connect with customer service teams: