Updated: Monday 14 May, 2012
By Martin Fagan
It is a good idea to check you are on the cheapest electricity deal available in order to cut those soaring energy bills, but where do you start?
We’ve all just had a bumper round of electricity price hikes and energy bills have reached eye-watering levels. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in the last decade electricity prices have risen by 109% while gas prices are up 181% during the same period. So it’s understandable that many people are shopping around to find a cheaper electricity deal available for them in their area.
To do this quickly and smoothly, the key is to go online and compare all the different deals that energy suppliers have on offer in your area - this will save you the most money in the long run.
To start off with, you should dig out your most recent electricity bills.
From there, you will be able to see which company currently supplies your electricity and the name of the tariff that you’re on. This will form the basis of your comparison so you can compare like with like.
You will also be able to work out your average electricity usage from the bills and find out roughly how much you are spending each month/quarter/year on electricity with your current deal.
Your energy bill will also tell you your payment method - direct debit, online, cash, or cheque.
When it comes to the comparison process, all this is important information which could affect your quote. This is because opting for “paperless billing” - having you bills and all correspondence sent via email rather than through the post - can knock up to 10% off your bill.
Now you have all the information to hand, go online to a price comparison website such as Energychoices.co.uk and compare the different electricity tariffs available in your area, as prices do vary depending whereabouts in the UK you live.
The comparison service is straightforward and easy to use.
All you have to do is enter your postcode into the search box and select whether you are looking for just an electricity tariff or whether you want to look at dual fuel tariffs - both electricity and gas.
You will then be asked to fill in a short form which will ask for information such as your current supplier, your average usage and how you want to pay for your energy.
A moment later, the service will show you cheap electricity deals available and a summary of the savings you could make by switching provider or tariff.
Once you have selected the tariff you feel best suits your circumstance, then all you need to do is click “continue” to switch to your new electricity plan.
You don’t need to do anything else; your new supplier will contact your existing supplier and will organise a smooth switchover.
When selecting a new electricity tariff an important question to consider is whether you are looking for a fixed rate-tariff or one that could go up or down with energy prices.
Fixed-rate tariffs offer security and peace of mind that your bills will cost a certain amount for a certain period of time. This way you’ll be able to manage and budget for your electricity bills each month. You will however have to pay more for a fixed-rate tariff. Think of it as an insurance premium you pay in order to prevent to cost of your energy rising over the fixed rate period.
On the other hand, online tariffs are some of the cheapest deals around. These, however, do not promise to stay the same but could easily go up or down in line with the supplier’s standard tariff as the price of energy fluctuates on the wholesale markets.
As they are online, these tariffs are much cheaper than a supplier’s standard tariffs. You’ll also be able to completely manage your account online, editing payment details and even entering your own meter readings. To find out how to read your meter, read our guide .
Having to enter your own meter readings also eliminates the risk overpaying on an estimated bill and then having to wait weeks for a refund. It also makes you more conscious of the amount of energy you’re using each month and you’ll be more likely to cut down.