Martin Lewis of Moneysavingexpert: The heating’s now off so suppliers are cranking up prices
- Credit: Archant
You've turned your heating off, so energy suppliers are cranking up their prices. Here's how to beat the price rises, writes Moneysavingexpert's Martin Lewis.
Spring has sprung. The weather's warming up, and the last thing on anyone's mind is their energy bill.
That means the energy firms have got you just where they want you – it's the perfect opportunity for them to pump up prices – and they're doing just that.
The only way to stop this is to get up off your backside and take them on. We live in a world where the do-somethings get far cheaper prices than the do-nothings.
So it's time to do something. Someone with typical bills on a bog standard tariff right now can easily save over £300 a year.
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What price hikes are happening?
• British Gas: The first big announcement was from British Gas – it's putting up both gas and electricity prices for those on its standard tariff by an average 5.5% on May 29. This is equivalent to around £60 added on top of a typical annual bill.
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• EDF: On the tails of British Gas's announcement, EDF snuck in to say it would increase its standard price on electricity by 2.7% (gas prices won't change) on June 7, equivalent to around £16 on a typical annual bill.
• Eon: This is what I call a backdoor price hike – not announced like the others, because its energy rates won't change, but nonetheless what it is doing increases your price. On April 19, it ditched some dual fuel (ie gas & electric) discounts and upped some standing charges – equivalent to an average rise of £22 a year.
So that's three who have announced at the time of writing, yet energy firms often bleat like sheep and follow the herd, especially when British Gas leads. So by the time you read this, more may have announced hikes.
Be a do-something not a do-nothing
It's no secret that British Gas and all the other Big Six providers aren't cheap. In fact if you're sitting on their standard tariff, frankly you're being ripped off and, with typical bills, you could cut the costs from around £1,140 to a little over £765 for the same usage. That's a saving of £375, and with higher usage this can be even larger.
Switching energy supplier is not complicated. In fact it only takes minutes to find your cheapest deal and then it can switch in as little as 17 days.
To those who worry about switching: please don't. It's the same pipes, gas, meter, safety, and you don't lose supply – the only difference is price and customer service. And there's no break in supply when you do switch.
As your cheapest depends on where you live and what you use, there's no single winner.
Don't be afraid to scroll down
The huge number of new entrants to the energy market is actually putting many off switching.
And to an extent there's good reason for this. The energy market is swamped with new firms, and often at launch they offer super-cheap deals to build a customer base; yet feedback is limited or poor.
If that worries you, simply scroll down the comparison site results to firms you've heard of or one which has a good customer service feedback rating.
If you won't switch, at least call up your energy firm
Of course there are some vulnerable customers who, rather than being apathetic, are unable to switch due to confusion, lack of online access or fear.
The flaccid current 'vulnerable customer' price cap only reduces their costs by a relatively trivial £70. This means disgracefully, a wealthy, savvy man like me still pays far less to boil a kettle than a struggling 90-year-old grandmother.
Yet for those who can switch but just don't want to, there is another route. Every Big six provider has a cheaper deal than its standard tariff – so (through gritted teeth) let me say, if you won't switch as you're loyal to your existing firm, at least ensure you're on its cheapest tariff. Call them up and ask them.
And for those who are struggling to pay at all…
Too many have to choose between heating and eating.
So make sure you're on the cheapest tariff, but if that isn't enough call the www.energysavingtrust.org.uk on 0300 123 1234 (England and Wales and Northern Ireland) or 08088082282 (Scotland) to see what help is available to you.