In an energy fix? You CAN move before prices go up over the next two months
- Around a quarter of a million people are at risk of paying too much for energy
- A total of 77 cheap deals are set to finish at the end of January or February
Around a quarter of a million people are at risk of paying too much for their gas and electricity as their cheaper fixed-rate deals come to an end over the next two months.
A total of 77 cheap deals are set to finish at the end of January or February meaning consumers will be shunted on to their provider’s more expensive standard energy tariff unless they switch to a new fixed-rate deal.
Price comparison website Energy helpline has calculated that each customer could be hit with an average price increase of £72.50 a year meaning a combined rise in bills of more than £18million.
Too much: Around a quarter of a million people are at risk of paying too much for their gas and electricity
But if these consumers switch to their provider’s cheapest available rate, or switch suppliers altogether, they could save an average of £334 a year.
Mark Todd, director at Energy helpline, says: ‘As energy suppliers revert customers to standard tariffs at the end of their deals, prices generally rise, sometimes by huge amounts. It’s crucial that customers don’t become frozen in their ways and instead keep alert.
‘The best thing for people whose deals comes to an end in the next couple of months is to start switching now. Energy is the easiest big household bill to switch. It only takes five minutes and there are lots of highly-rated, good value deals available.’
Websites such as Energyhelpline and uSwitch can easily show what are the best deals to switch to and how much you can save on their existing rates.
For example, someone on EDF Energy’s Blue+Heating Protect tariff will be paying on average £1,042 a year.
But when their deal expires at the end of the month they will automatically be moved on to a standard tariff that would result in an equivalent bill of £1,177 a year, an increase of £135. If they instead switched to the cheapest fixed-price deal on the market – currently available from Utility Point – they would pay on average just £826 a year, saving an impressive £351.
Do not worry if you feel that you have left it too late to switch your January deal or that it is too early to start switching your February deal – neither is the case.
Explains Todd: ‘If your current rate expires at the end of this month, so long as you have started the switching process before then your existing provider can’t hit you with its standard variable rate. This means you can arrange a new low-cost deal and continue to pay your current rate right up until the moment your new rate starts.’
If your current energy deal does not expire until the end of February, then you can still take action now. There is a 49-day switching window which means even if you are locked into a fixed rate until the end of February then you can start the process seven weeks before your current deal ends.
Cordelia Samson, energy expert at uSwitch, says: ‘Now is the time to take action. In the past six months we’ve seen the lowest-priced deals becoming even cheaper.
Households can take advantage of more than 50 fixed deals available for less than £1,000 per year and switch now. If you switch to a fixed deal this time, make sure you also sign up for a reminder to alert you when the plan is next due to expire – to keep you firmly in control.’
Some switching firms now automatically switch you over to the best deals without you having to get involved. The likes of Flipper, Look After My Bills, Switchcraft and Weflip all cater for ‘passive switchers’ who want a better deal but want someone else to find it for them.
If you are looking to switch to a supplier you have not used before or are unfamiliar with, then it is worth checking out the quality of their customer service including ease of switching, transparency of bills and how easy it is to contact them.
Every three months Citizens Advice compares energy suppliers across five categories and ranks them. Top rated companies are So Energy, EDF Energy, Octopus Energy, SSE and Engie.