Who does not want a good deal, especially for big items like gas and electricity? I recently discovered that UK’s popular price comparison site uSwitch is not that accurate when it comes to domestic gas and electricity. Here are my tips in finding the best deal:
1. ONLY use uSwitch for initial search as it compares prices based on general average consumption pattern. It is not accurate enough.
uSwitch ask you for your post code, current supplier names, current method of payment for the bills, current plan names, your usage in the form of the cost of your last bill for example, how you heat your home (by gas or electricity?) and what you cook with. They then give you a list of companies and tell you how much you will save if you switch.
However, uSwitch do not analyse how big your property is and nor do they analyse your energy throughout the year. This makes a big difference, especially when your case is not the same as an average household in your area, which uSwitch has assumed you to be in its analysis. e.g In my case I live in a flat but my area is dominated by 4 bedroom family houses. Through calculation, I discovered that uSwitch recommended the wrong plan and provider for me.
Hence I recommend you
to just take a few company names from the top of the list and follow step 2 to do a bit more research yourself.
2. Understand how UK energy suppliers charge. The 2 most common ways of charging are:
A. With threshold but no standing charge
When the energy usage is below a set threshold per year, e.g 625 kWh, consumers are asked to pay a certain per unit price. Above that threshold, they have to pay another price (which is usually lower).
B. With standing charge but no thresholdConsumers are asked to pay a standing charge per day. There is no threshold and the per unit charge is lower than option A.
3. Find out the unit price details of your shortlisted companies.
This information is easily be available online these days.
4. Find out the unit price details of your current supplier
Your can find the price you are charged currently from your bill. But most importantly, check to see if they have new offers!
5. Establish which way of charging suits your property type and energy usage.
Generally speaking, if you do not use much energy, option A is a better choice for you. If you have a big house and use a lot of energy, option B suits you more. Of course there is only one way of finding out- by calculation.
It is easier than you think! I did mine in 5 minutes.
8. Dual Fuel
Generally speaking, you get better discounts when the same company supplies both your gas and electricity.
7. Price fix
I know most price comparison websites recommend price fixing but I am sceptical about this. The per unit prices for the price fix deals are generally higher- in my case I found it costing over 30% more per quarter. These days the price fixing period is usually around 12 months only. I am not sure if it is that much of a bargain anymore.
8. Other bits and pieces that will save you money:
A. Paperless billing- you can usually get a percentage off the total bill.
B. Direct Debit discount
9. Exit charge
Some deals come with an exit charge. This means you will be charged if you leave the policy before a defined date. Beware!
10. Customer Service
If you can afford a little more, choose a company that has a better system and better customer service. This saves you time and money in long run. I had experience during with a company that failed to do a simple transfer for 2 months. It was a total waste of my time, energy and thus money. It is not worth it!
What is your experience with uSwitch and energy suppliers? Please feel free to share!