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Posted on November 16th, 2015
  1. Become a seasoned tariff checker

For many the rule of thumb today is to work smarter, not harder, and this simple yet effective principle can be applied to getting a better deal on your current gas tariff.

Whilst many of us choose to shop around for a bargain when it comes to our mortgage, car insurance and food shopping, many more think that their gas supplier is already offering them the best deal. However, by considering a switch and fixing your deal with a new tariff, and perhaps a new supplier, you could actually save hundreds on your annual gas bill, meaning you have more to spend elsewhere.

Whilst saving money on your tariff sounds like a win-win for you and your family, you may be thinking is it worth going through the motions to switch?

The answer is of course yes, and switching your gas supplier and tariff is one of the simplest and most efficient ways to cut your energy bill. The savings can in fact be huge, especially if you’ve never dared to challenge your current provider and switch before.

Saving heaps of cash is the biggest draw for savvy consumers looking to shave their energy costs down further in time for the autumn/winter season, and with even savvier tools available from independent comparison firms, switching doesn’t have to mean ringing countless suppliers in search of a better deal.

In addition to getting gas and electricity at a much cheaper rate, customers looking to switch can also take advantage of fixed term deals enabling them to protect themselves from future price hikes for a fixed period.

What to do before you switch

Whilst there are a number of handy tools available online to make the switching process that bit smoother, there is also a selection of ‘to dos’ that every consumer looking to switch should tick off before they compare and sniff out a more affordable tariff.

By following these steps you could find an even better deal ahead of the big freeze and secure fairer rates for the years ahead:

  • Get to grips with your current tariff – Having a clear idea about how much you currently pay for your gas and what benefits you are harnessing from your current supplier will ensure you have all the information you need to make the right decision when comparing deals and approaching competitor gas companies. As well as providing gas at a price, your current tariff may provide other services that other suppliers may or may not provide. Weigh up the pros and cons of your current deal and compare it to the perks that you could receive under a new tariff
  • Always read the terms and conditions – Whilst the long and legal jargon found in every terms and conditions document may be a bore, reading the T&Cs of your current tariff is important. Many suppliers enforce charges for switching and cancelling your contract, especially those that involve fixed terms and prices. Whilst exit fees are particularly common, many suppliers will allow you to leave up to 49 days ahead of your tariff end date without penalty. By reading your terms and conditions carefully you can avoid any nasty surprises and extra expenses that may crop up as a result of switching your current deal
  • Do your research regarding the tariffs currently available – There are a number of tariff options available from different suppliers, and understanding what is out there before you compare is vital. By getting a grasp of the market and current tariff conditions you can make an informed decision about whether switching is right for you
  • Understand the switch process – Knowing who to contact and what tools to utilise when switching will make the whole process far less daunting. Whilst switching supplier is easier than ever many people are understandably deterred from ‘rocking the boat’, please read our ‘The big switch – simplified’ section on page 3 for further details and rest assured that the procedure is so much simpler than you might anticipate.

 

Should I switch my tariff?

If you are looking to pay less on your monthly or annual gas tariff then considering a switch could certainly be the right choice for you.

Switching is a much simpler process than you may think, and by following the steps in the checklist above you can make sure you are sufficiently prepared to make the right choices about your tariff. As well as comparing tariffs from the Big Six suppliers, approaching smaller, independent suppliers may be a great option for many consumers.

There are a wide range of independent suppliers in the UK, many of which have to work harder to entice customers to join them, which means great deals and even better incentives. Astonishingly despite the range of extras and cut price tariffs provided by independent suppliers, fewer than 250,000 customers are currently taking advantage.

So how can these smaller, independent suppliers offer better deals than the energy giants currently dominating the market?

The government’s changing attitudes to independent suppliers have meant that they can comfortably offer the discounts and extra services that the Big Six don’t. The government recently removed a variety of obligations on small suppliers allowing them to rise higher in the current, highly competitive energy market.

Whether you are looking to switch to a tariff offered by one of the Big Six or a smaller, lesser known supplier, switching can work for also every consumer as long as you are certain that your current tariff doesn’t provide the service and fair pricing that you are looking for.

 

The big switch – simplified

All you need to start the switch process is your postcode, that’s right, it’s that simple! Many online tools such as uSwitch, Which? Switch, MoneySuperMarket, Simply Switch and GoCompare need just your postcode to get comparison underway.

In addition to your postcode, any comparison tool will also ask for the name of your current supplier and the name of your tariff – this information can be found on your latest bill. Having details of how much you spend on gas and your usage, preferably in kilowatt hours (kWh), will also help to make your search for a better deal more accurate and profitable. Again this can be found on your latest bill or annual statement, which is also available upon request from your current supplier should you not have this information to hand.

If you are looking for a quick quote, then you can skip adding this usage and tariff information, however, this will only provide a rough estimate regarding the tariff that offers the best value for money for you.

Following comparison each site will offer a step-by-step guide on what to do next, with many suppliers able to contact your current supplier and cancel your existing tariff on your behalf to make the process even more streamline.

 

What happens next?

After your new gas supplier has arranged the switch, they will request meter readings from you to determine the outstanding balance to your previous provider. You will then receive your final bill from your previous supplier, which will then be settled accordingly.

The switch process can take anything from two to six weeks to complete, and you will not have to face any time without gas during this transaction.

Top tips for saving more on your tariff

As well as switching suppliers, there are also a series of tips and tricks that can be used to make further savings on your current or new energy deal.

  • Switch to online statements and save up to 10% on your annual premium
  • Always opt for a billed meter, prepayment meters can cost more in the long run
  • Take advantage of seasonal incentives, the end of the warmer weather is the perfect time to get the switch process underway in time for the autumn and winter seasons
  • Compare gas and electricity separately as dual fuel doesn’t always provide the cheapest option
  • Pay by direct debit and save between 5% and 10%!
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