Switch supplier to cut your energy costs

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As the cost of energy rises, more and more people are looking for ways to cut their utility bills. Almost three million households in the UK switched utility supplier in the first seven months of this year. In this article, we advise you on shopping around for the gas and electricity deals.

The benefits of the deregulation of the energy supply market have been slow to emerge. However, rising electricity and gas prices have prompted British consumers to take action. Between January 2006 and August 2007 seven million households switched utility supplier.

In response, energy supply companies have become increasingly competitive. Earlier this month British Gas has launched its Click Energy 4 tariff, which it claims makes it the cheapest utility supplier in the country. Last year, British Gas' market share dropped below 50 per cent for the first time.

With more than 20 gas and electricity suppliers on the market, we urge you to shop around. Many consumers who switch enjoy savings of over £150 a year.

“With winter drawing in all suppliers having lowered their prices, now is a good time for all customers to check whether they are getting a good deal for their energy,” says Alistair Buchanan, chief executive of energy watchdog Ofgem.

Despite improvements in the transparency of the various tariffs on offer, comparing energy suppliers for the best deals can be a complex task. However, there is help at hand. Energywatch publishes comparison tables two times a month comparing the various deals on offer.

There are also many commercial websites that compare deals and offer services that help you switch supplier. These include uSwitch.com and Saveonyourbills.co.uk. If you opt to use a commercial service such as these, make sure it bears the ‘energywatch Confidence Code' stamp.

When you shop around, you will also find a number of suppliers offering 'dual-fuel' deals. These offer the convenience of only having to pay one utility bill each month, but may not be the cheapest option for you.

Your first move when switching energy supplier should be to calculate how much you spend on energy each year. Look at your last four quarterly bills for gas and electricity to see how much you spent.

You should then contact all of the energy suppliers in your area and ask them to send you details of their prices. You should also be able to find this information online. From this you should be able to figure out whether you can save money and which supplier offers the best deal.

Bear in mind that some suppliers will offer reduced rates if you use a lot of energy. Also, your method of payment may also affect tariffs. Many utility suppliers offer discounts of up to 10 per cent if you pay by direct debit as it saves them the hassle of having to chase you for payment.

Switching energy supplier is just one way you can cut your utility bills. You can also cut prices significantly by becoming more energy efficient in your day to day life. A combination of the two could save you hundreds of pounds each year.

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