How to slash hundreds of pounds off your energy bill - Martin Lewis

Many consumers are seeking ways of cutting their energy bills Picture: PA
Many consumers are seeking ways of cutting their energy bills Picture: PA
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Are you ripping yourself off?

At least 11m people in the UK are overpaying on their energy bills, usually by hundreds of pounds a year.

Sorting it is one of the biggest and easiest savings you can make – yet the majority still don’t do it. More so, even if you’re scared of switching firm, right now you may be able to save hundreds of pounds and stick with your existing provider.

So as we’re in the core of winter, carpe diem. Are you one of the 11m massively overpaying?

Anyone who’s with a big 6 company - British Gas, Eon, EDF, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE - and is on their standard tariff (which is almost everyone who hasn’t switched in the last
year).

Even if you’re not with them, as prices have dropped rapidly in the last year, many can still save.

One big issue here is many people assume energy companies have one price. They don’t.

They can have lots of different tariffs – yes that does literally mean they charge different people totally different amounts for the same thing. So the key is to ensure you’re one of
those being charged less not more.

To prove the point, those on British Gas and EDF standard tariffs as I write this, are paying around the price cap figure of £1,178 a year – for typical use (if you use more or less, you’ll
pay more or less roughly in proportion).

Yet both providers, have another tariff at under £900/year, for the same use, and they’re fixed deals – so you know for a year the rate won’t rise. That means it’s £280/yr cheaper for
the same gas, same electricity, same safety and same service – just a different price. And better still both these tariffs allow not only new, but existing customers too, to get them –
as long as you do it the right way.

Of course those willing to move company can save even more. Currently, the cheapest deals on the market are around £830/yr for typical usage. So if you’re willing to switch firm, move
to that and you could be paying £350/yr less.

On the back of me talking about this on telly the other day Melanie got in contact, “Just watched Martin Lewis and did an energy comparison. By staying with my supplier I can save £355/yr. Thank you”.

You can’t just get these deals – you have to do it the right way.

Energy firms don’t just move you to its cheaper deals. These are generally reserved for pro-active switchers.

This is all about using a comparison site like my www.cheapenergyclub.co.uk which is whole of market (and includes a ‘stick with my existing provider’ filter). It also gives £25 cashback per dual fuel switch, which you wouldn’t get direct, or any www.ofgem.gov.uk approved comparison sites. For Northern Ireland use www.consumercouncil.org.uk.

There are two reasons to do this:


1) There is no one cheapest provider. I’ve been talking average prices, but who your cheapest is depends on where you live and how much you use. A comparison site works it
out for you and tells you the exact saving.


2) Some (though not all) cheap tariffs – including the cheapest from British Gas, EDF and E.on, are ONLY AVAILABLE via comparison sites. You can’t just call up the firm and ask for
it. This also gives you the advantage of seeing how the deal stacks up for you, as who is cheapest depends on where you live and how much you use.


Though beware, as comparison sites are now allowed to only show you tariffs that pay them, which means you may not see all the deals (for the sake of transparency my Cheap
Energy Club defaults to all deals).


Switching and saving tends to beat sticking and saving. My point here isn’t that you should stick with your existing provider. Generally the best thing is to do a comparison. Often you’ll find it’s firms you’ve not heard of with no customer service track record that come top as they’re trying to build market share.


If that worries you, you can scrolls down to find the cheapest company with a decent customer service reputation (or use ‘good customer service’ filters if the site has them).
There are lots of mid-sized firms with really good ratings and really cheap prices. Yet the reason I started with the big 6 deals, is that I know many are scared of switching
firm, and as right now we’re in a rare sweet spot where you can stick and save, that’s a decent option for action.

Don’t worry if you’re short of info to do a comparison. Even if you just know you address and existing providers name you can do it. Of course it’ll be more accurate if you have your exact tariff details and can plug your usage in too.

But overall the sin of inaction is usually bigger than the sin of inaccuracy – so if you don’t know the comparison site will estimate it for you. This will only take you a few minutes. Then it's
switched over in 17 days.

And if you’re worried about the practicalities of switching - well if you’re sticking with the same company, very little changes. Even if you do switch to another company, while it’s the
same pipes, gas, meter, safety – you don’t lose supply – the only difference is price and customer service.


Those on prepayment meters can save too – but not as much. If you pay by a key or card meter, as many of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable do, then outrageously there’s nowhere near as much competition, and you pay more – though prices have been capped which has helped a touch. If you do a comparison there are often
savings to be made, but often less than £100.

If you can, try and switch to a billed meter. It’s free to do with one of the big six providers, and you’ll usually be credit scored to check you’re capable of keeping up with payments.


Martin Lewis is the Founder of MoneySavingExpert.com. To join the 13 million people who get his free Money Tips weekly email, go to www.moneysavingexpert.com/latesttip