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Are you paying too much for Gas and Electricity? asks Dean Dunham

publication date: Oct 20, 2012
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author/source: Dean Dunham
Dean DunhamAs we turn on our heating after the summer we should start to consider energy prices. Here are the key facts that you need to know:

Is my bill going to increase?

If you are not on a fixed tariff the answer is almost certainly yes. Most of the energy companies have therefore announced rises, most notably:
  • SSE - 9 per cent
  • Npower - 9 per cent
  • British Gas - 6 per cenet
  • Scot Power - 7 per cent
If you are an EDF or Eon customer do not be complacent; whilst neither of these providers has announced increases yet, I am fairly certain that they will. Energy companies work on the domino effect, once one goes they the rest always follow!

What can I do?

Firstly don't panic about the price increases as it is a competitive market and there is usually a better deal out there. In this respect if you are prepared to "fix" your deal you will get a better price, usually saving around £200+ per year.

To find out what deal is best for you go through one of the energy price comparison websites. There are several sites on the market which are easy to find.

Are there any catches to fixing a deal?

The biggest catch with fixing a deal is the exit fee. This means that if you leave the deal before the end of the fixed period you have to pay a penalty. However, not all fixed deals have an exit fee and even where there is an exit fee it does not mean that it will be a bad deal for you. To determine whether a deal is good you simply need to consider whether the savings that you will make on the reduced bills will outweigh the exit fee if you decide to exit early in the future.

Are there any good deals at the moment?

There are lots of good deals on the market. The best that I have seen in the last week are:

  • Cheapest fixed deal with an exit fee: First Utility, but it has £60 (dual fuel) exit fee.
  • Cheapest no exit fee fix  Scottish Power costs more but lets you leave penalty-free.
  • Deals offered by the energy providers change daily so I would advise that you search the comparison sites.

I'm on a prepayment (key) meter, can I still save? 

Yes, though there are no competitive fixes for prepay customers. Yet as typical prepay costs are up to £1,400 per year and the cheapest deal's £1,200, you can still save a significant amount of money.

I'm in debt/credit, can I still move supplier?

If you are in credit there will be no problem switching. At present, if you are in debt on prepay meters you can only switch if your debt is less than £200- from 1 November 2012 this rises to £500.

Should I wait to see what happens with new Energy Bill

Absolutely not. At the moment we do not know exactly how consumers will benefit from the Energy Bill and therefore how it will work. If you want to be totally risk adverse try to fix a deal now where you do not have an exit fee, that way if the Energy Bill shocks us all and ends up actually benefitting consumers you can still take advantage of what it has to offer.

Finally, at youandyourrights we are campaigning for everyone to consider the elderly this winter, particularly those who cannot afford increasing energy prices. As I have explained switching to a cheaper deal is really easy but unfortunately this means surfing the internet, which is something that many elderly people simply do not know how to do. If you know an elderly person in this position please help them to switch.

For more information on energy prices and switching suppliers log on to Dean's website.