The decision by npower last week to hike its prices by about 15% marks the end of steady or declining energy bills for British consumers. And with fuel costs rising, npower’s competitors are expected to follow suit in the coming weeks. Now is the time to look at whether you are getting the best deal on your energy needs.
Late last week nPower announced that it is increasing the price of electricity by 12.7% and gas by 17.2%, citing the rising cost of fuel in Britain as the main reason. Unfortunately, high energy bills are set to become a fact of life so it is important to shop around for the most competitive product.
“The best thing customers can do is immediately change to the cheapest available tariff which, in many cases, is British Gas Click Energy 4. If people want to fix their prices though, they should look to Scottish Power Online Energy Price Fall,” advises Paul Schofield, head of utilities at price comparison site moneysupermarket.com.
This is good general advice. However, the best deal will depend on where you live and how much gas and electricity you use. There is little doubt that we will all have to pay a little more for our energy needs but it should be possible for most of us to find a better deal than we are currently on by taking a few easy steps.
The first thing to do is to find out how much energy you actually use each month. Check your bills over the last year or contact your supplier to see how much gas and/or electricity you used. Your energy usage and your locality will determine what is the best deal for you.
“British Gas Click Energy 4 is the cheapest product on the market for an ‘average’ house in 13 of Britain’s 14 regions, but for people in small homes it is other providers, such as Scottish Power, Atlantic and E.ON, that lead the way,” says Mr Schofield.
Whichever energy provider you choose, or even if you stay with your existing one, be sure to avail of its online tariff rather than the standard tariff. By doing this you can make significant savings. Exactly how much you save will depend on where you live and how much energy you use, but it could be over £200 a year.
If you cannot or do not want to avail of an online tariff, you can still save money by switching from paying quarterly by cash or cheque to paying monthly by direct debit. Paying by direct debit could save you in the region of £150 a year.
Of course, one of the best ways to reduce your energy costs is to use less energy. As well as saving you money, you will also be doing your bit for the environment and the fight against climate change. For some advice on how to do this, have a look at the feature we published a few months back on How to save money on your energy bills.
As Britain increasingly relies on imports of gas and coal to meet its fuel needs energy prices are only likely to rise. However, with a little research and consumer savvy you should be able to offset the worst of these price hikes.