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Comparing energy prices yourself at home can feel like a minefield. With lots of technical terms that often vary between suppliers, and a ton of anagrams from kWh and SVTs to MPRNs and MPANs, comparing costs properly and fairly can be difficult. However, it’s important to remember that unlike with other utilities such as internet or TV services, you won’t experience a loss in utility quality by switching to a cheaper or more cost-effective provider, so there’s no excuse to stay with the same company forever if they’re not offering the best deals on the market.
Last update: March 2021

The last thing to remember when comparing energy deals is the difference in rates advertised and the impact of your household and personal circumstances on your actual bill means that you can’t always take the headline rates at face value when comparing, whether you are comparing electricity prices or gas prices.

How do I compare energy prices?

With a plethora of technical terms and anagrams, fairly comparing energy deals can be hard. Here, we walk you through the jargon, process and teach you what to look out for.

The first step in the process is to take stock of what you have currently. Make sure that you have all your key information to hand before gathering prices, reviews and recommendations online. This information will affect the quotes that you’re eligible for and the costs that you’ll see, so make sure that it’s as accurate and up-to-date as possible.

What information do I need to switch energy supplier?

To get started, you’ll (ideally) need to have the following bits of information to hand:

  1. Your postcode and the first line of your address
  2. Your current supplier(s) and tariff (including whether or not you’re on Economy 7
  3. Your current charges and payment method – do you pay by prepayment meter or direct debit?
  4. Your current charges and payment method – do you pay by prepayment meter or direct debit?
  5. Your household size, type and monthly or annual energy usage
  6. Your energy: do you need gas, electricity or both for your home?

Once this information is ready, read on to discover some of the key things to look out for when you compare utility bills.

There are several factors to consider when comparing energy prices and tariffs – even if you’re comparing tariffs from the same provider!

Energy costs breakdown

For the large majority of tariffs, there will be several quoted figures for you to consider.

Unit rates and kWh

Your unit rate is the price paid per unit of energy used. So for example, a unit rate of 16.05p would be chargeable for every one kWh (killowatt-hour) of energy that you use. It’s a common misconception that this means you’ll be charged the unit rate for each hour that you use energy for, but it’s simply a measurement of your energy usage: 1kWh is the amount of energy required to power an 1,000-watt bulb for one hour.

For a frame of reference, the average kettle uses between two to three killowatts of energy, so it would take quite a few cups of tea to get this to 1,000 killowatts of energy! It’s then that you’d be charged for 1 kWh of energy usage (only for your kettle!). Your fridge freezer would use between 250-450 kWh per year, so you’d be charged for between 250 to 450 kWh. Using the 16.05p unit rate, this would add up to an annual cost of £40 to £72 a year just to run your fridge-freezer.

Standing Charges

Sometimes known as Standing charges or daily standing charge, this is a fixed amount that is charged every day, regardless of the volume of electricity and/or gas used that day. This charge is to cover the cost of sourcing and supplying energy to your home, and is charged even if your house is empty.

One key thing to bear in mind is that if you’re currently on or looking for a dual fuel tariff, you will pay two daily standing charges: one for your electricity supply, and one for your gas supply.

COVID-19

More than ever, our team of experts remain on deck to help you make savings on your energy. We understand how deeply the lives of many are affected by these trying times and we want to support you the best we can. More on your energy supply during COVID-19 in our article.

Standing charges vary considerably, with a small minority of newer providers getting rid of them completely. But, be wary of this, as the costs of supplying energy and maintaining infrastructure might then be hidden in the unit rate. For electricity, the charge can range from 5p to 60p a day, and for gas it’s slightly higher at 10p to 80p per day.

Exit fees

Finally, it’s really important to keep an eye out for exit fees. While these only apply to fixed tariffs rather than variable or standard variable tariffs (SVTs), exit fees can be an unexpected cost if you do decide to switch tariffs for a better deal but you’re locked in to a contract currently. For dual fuel tariffs, with UK supplier exit fees known to go as high as £200 – £100 electricity and £100 gas.

Which energy supplier is the best?

While everyone’s definition of the ‘best’ is different, we like staying impartial and trying to find the best deals to suit each of our customers, based on their circumstances. Often, what’s best for one household isn’t for another, so we could never apply the blanket term of ‘the best’ to any individual energy supplier.

However! According to the annual Which? Energy survey in October 2020, these three are the best UK energy suppliers, based on customer satisfaction and feedback from more than 8,000 UK energy customers.

Position Company name Customer score
1
Octopus Energy
83%
2
Pure Planet
78%
3
So Energy
75%

How does switching energy suppliers work?

Switching energy suppliers sounds difficult, but a lot of the hard work goes on behind the scenes! For customers, all you need to do is get in contact with your preferred new energy supplier, and they will handle the switching process and get in touch with your old supplier to cancel your supply agreement – this avoids any awkward phone calls for you!

On the transfer day, simply take your meter reading – or readings for dual fuel tariffs – and send these to your new supplier. They’ll then share this with your old supplier, and your final bill will be generated. After this, your new supplier will take on your energy, and your old supplier will either give you a refund if you’re in credit with them, or send you a final payment request.

After this, you may need to give your new supplier your MPAN and MPRN – your meter point reference (for your gas supply) and meter point administration numbers (for your electricity supply).

How much can I save by switching energy suppliers?

According to the money advice service, switching energy providers can save you up to £300 a day. If you combine this with implementing cost-effective and energy-efficient measures in your home, this can go even higher! So it’s always worth checking to make sure that you’re getting the best deal on your energy.

How long does it take to switch energy providers?

It doesn’t take long at all to switch. All you need to do is speak to your new provider who will handle all of the paperwork in the background, and will inform your new supplier.

Your new supply will start after your cooling-off period which is 14 working days. After this, you’ll be switched over as soon as your provider is able – usually within 21 days.

It’s worth noting down the following:

  1. If your energy doesn’t switch within 21 days
  2. You are switched by mistake or without asking
  3. Or a supplier is late refunding a credit balance after your final bill

Then you will be owed ‘automated switching compensation’ which is between £30 to £60, and will need to be paid within ten working days. Again, if this doesn’t happen, further compensation will be due.

How to switch dual tariff energy?

Switching dual fuel is the same process as switching electricity or gas on their own. You simply find a new energy deal (or deals), inform the new supplier and they will take care of the switchover process for you.

Is it more complicated to switch gas and electricity together?

No, it’s the same process. You can make it more complicated by switching from two providers to two new providers (one for each fuel) but, ultimately, the process is the same whether you switch just electricity, just gas or both.

You can certainly make it easier for yourself by switching from two current providers to one dual fuel tariff, and a lot of the time you’ll see a cost saving managing your energy this way rather than with two separate tariffs, as some providers offer discounts.

Ultimately, the process is the same, and we can help you switch to the best energy provider for your household and personal circumstances.

  1. Give us a ring on 0330 054 0017 for a less than 10-minute chat
  2. Our energy experts will then carry out a free price comparison to find your the best deal available in the market
  3. We then take control of the switching process, whether you switch gas on its own, electricity on its own or switch to a dual fuel tariff.

What is a dual fuel tariff, and why should I consider switching?

A dual fuel tariff is when a household puts their gas and electricity with one supplier, using one contract instead of one for each. This is much easier to manage as a customer because you:

  • Have one monthly bill and one payment, instead of two
  • Will often benefit from a cheaper tariff
  • Only have one supplier to deal with, if there are any issues.

Would you like to know more about comparing energy prices? Great! Check out some of our related articles

  1. Gas prices
  2. Energy prices europe
  3. Compare energy deals
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Written by eleanor

Updated on 31 Mar, 2021

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