Energy bills: Could you cut your fuel costs by switching to the best deals?

Too many customers are sat on standard variable tariffs wasting a collective £1.7billion a year, according to a recent report from the Competition and Markets Authority.

Meanwhile falling wholesale prices are finally filtering through and smaller energy suppliers are rocking the market, forcing increasingly competitive deals.

This means there has never been a better time to switch to a new provider and save money on fuel bills. Those stuck on expensive legacy deals could stand to save as much as £300 a year.

Bills: If you've never switched supplier then you could save a substantial amount by moving to a different firm.

Bills: If you've never switched supplier then you could save a substantial amount by moving to a different firm.

Figures from Energy UK reveal that 1.3 million customers moved from a large supplier to a small one during the past 12 months - the equivalent to 41 per cent of all switches.

This has forced the hands of the largest big six suppliers, which have all recently launched new tariffs in response to cut-price deals from smaller rivals.

Potential savings for households are now huge - some can shave off more than £400 a year from their bills - particularly for those that have never switched before.

And you might be surprised by how simple the switching process can actually be.

Those on the hunt for a better deal have heaps of choice whether it is a long-term fix, variable rate or tariff from a smaller or green supplier you are looking for, with tariffs cut to well under £1,000.

Although the savings from switching are not quite as big as they were a few years ago switching should remain a key part of your personal finance maintenance.

If you are one of the millions of people who have NEVER switched (i.e. stuck with your original supplier), then you could also save a big chunk of cash.

If you want to cut straight to comparison, you can compare energy tariffs, with the choice of entering your own energy use, using our energy price comparison tool - click here

Latest energy news

Arming yourself with as much information as possible will help you to save money on your bills: 

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Things to remember 

Your bill will show two costs - a fixed standing rate charge and the price per unit (or Kwh of energy used).

Online plans paid by direct debit are still the most competitively priced and if you have never switched, choosing one of these will save you the most money.

You can either opt for a variable rate tariff, where the price can go up or down or a fixed rate tariff which gives you a secure price on each unit of electricity you use for a set period.

Historically variable rate tariffs have tended to be cheaper. But at the moment the cheapest rates are currently offered on one-year fixes and all of the Big Six have pledged to freeze even their variable rates until 2015.

However you will still pay a premium if you want long-term price security.

But, some may still find that they save money switching to a fixed tariff, particularly if you've never switched and are not signed up to a duel fuel and paying by direct debit.


1) Regular meter readings. Make sure you check every time you receive a bill, rather than relying on an estimate by your energy provider's estimate.

2) Change to online bills. You could save up to 10%.

3) Avoid prepayment meters if you can, and swap to a billed meter. Even if you have to pay to get one, it's probably worth it for the savings you'll gain.

4) If you're in financial trouble some companies offer special deals, which help ease any difficulties you might be facing. But don't just assume this will be the cheapest option - make sure you still do your homework.

5) Dual fuel (gas and electricity from the same supplier) is not always the cheapest option.

6) Monthly direct debit payments could save you 5-10% as companies are more confident that customers won't default and earn interest on any overpayments. Check any extra payments are refunded at the end of the year.

5) Swat up on how to lower your energy use 

Here's a few top tips to help you save more money by cutting your gas and electricity use

Should you fix?

Tariffs of this type will fix the rate you pay for a period, typically 18 months - but you can fix for as long as four years at the moment.

You will usually pay slightly more than the cheapest deals to buy long-term security, and be careful as some do come with exit fees if you do want to leave early.

There is no guarantee fixing will be best for the long-term but it gives certainty over bills as household finances are squeezed.

Remember: This doesn't mean you will simply pay a fixed amount. Your bill will still depend on the amount of energy used - you just pay a certain amount per unit.

Price comparison services, like the one here at This is Money, allow you to specify which type of tariff you want.

Would you be better off ditching the Big Six?

Anger towards the Big Six energy suppliers who make up 90 per cent of the energy market over mid-winter price hikes and bad customer service, has understandably encouraged many households to consider a smaller provider.

Although the larger companies dominate the energy market some of the smaller providers actually offer cheaper deals.

Over recent months small providers such as First Utility, Ovo Energy and Spark Energy have been dominating the best buys tables.

Ovo Energy has recently grabbed headlines by becoming the first provider to offer a tariff costing the average household less than £1,000 a year.

In a recent Which? survey small suppliers Good Energy and Ecotricity topped the tables for the best service with an impressive 82 per cent score, closely followed by the likes of Utility Warehouse, Ebico and Ovo Energy.

The Big Six however only averaged a satisfaction rating of 40 per cent.

Who is cheapest?

Comparison website uSwitch has supplied an up-to-date cheapest fixed tariff best-buy table (below), which lays out the top plans for customers paying by direct debit in arrears.

Bill sizes are based on the average medium user - remember the cheapest tariffs can be variable rates, leaving you open to price increases. But fixed deals currently dominate the best buys, and you could get an average bill below £1,000.

Provider and tariff 

Tariff  type

Rank (medium user)

Avg. low user (gross)

Avg. medium user (gross)

Avg. high
user (gross)

EDF Energy - EDF Energy Simply Fixed May17 (msm exclusive) Fixed





Avro Energy - Simple and Connect Fixed 2 £527.16 £743.70 £1,024.20
Sainsbury's Energy - Fixed Price May 2017 Fixed





So Energy - So Duck Fixed 4 £536.64 £749.72 £1,026.03
GnERGY - Fixed June 2017 Fixed 5 £518.36 £751.00 £1,052.00
Flow Energy - Connect 6 Fixed 6 £530.29 £751.97 £1,039.86
Places for People Energy - Together - September 2017 - fixed 32 Online Fixed





GB Energy Supply Limited - Fixed 12 - Ruby Fixed





GB Energy Supply Limited - Premium Energy Saver Variable





Avro Energy - Simple and Save Variable 10 £531.19 £765.99 £1,069.35
Source: MoneySupermarket, correct as of May 6 2016   

Energy switching: The background

Suppliers tend to charge more for electricity to those customers who live in their 'home' region - the areas where they enjoyed a monopoly before energy deregulation. So switching away will almost always save you money.

Prices are different all over the country and the cheapest supplier for you will depend where you live. You only need to be interested in the tariff that is going to be cheapest where you live, so do your own comparison to find the best price.

However, although some tariffs incur cancellation penalties if you leave before the term expires, it may still make sense to switch now and accept the penalty if it is small and your potential savings are big.

How to switch your gas and electricity

The simplest and often best way to switch energy bills is to use an online service, which can compare the tariffs on offer for you.

One way of doing that to find the cheapest energy supplier for you is by using This is Money's fuel bills switching service, powered by Energy Helpline.

We have chosen Energy Helpline as our partner because they are a long-standing, well respected firm with evidence to show that they can get our readers the best deal.*

The service shows you the tariffs available and how much you could save by switching to each one, it allows you to choose what suits you and can rank suppliers by customer service and price.

Switching is quick and easy and can be done online. All you need to do is put your postcode into the box to the right and follow the simple steps. The service is free to use and in a few minutes can tell you whether you can save hundreds of pounds.

There's no need to fill out any paperwork or sign a new contract - it does the hard work for you.


  • Sorted your energy bills? The next step is making sure you are not overpaying for your broadband, TV and phone contract. Skip to the next bills guide to find out how to make sure you are getting the best deal

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