Frequently asked questions

Tariff Categories

Environmental / Green Tariffs

These tariffs let you do your bit for the environment. There are a number of ways in which they work but there are two main options:

  • Where a portion of your bill is paid into a fund, which invests either in renewable energy projects (such as solar power, hydro-electric generation or wind farms), or in reforestation projects.
  • Where the supplier matches the amount of energy that you buy from them, with an equivalent amount of energy from renewable resources.

The specific details of individual schemes may be found on the relevant tariff results pages. In general, these tariffs will be more expensive than the cheapest deals around because Green energy normally costs more to produce. In most cases however, if you have not yet switched supplier, you should still be able to save money whilst helping support the environment. Worth a look!

Internet Only Tariffs

These tariffs are available only over the Internet. You will typically be able to handle your whole account with the supplier online.

No Standing Charges

Most energy bills have two components: a standing charge which you pay irrespective of the amount of energy you use, and price for each unit of kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy that you consume. With No Standing Charge tariffs, you only pay for the energy that you use. Many suppliers now offer both options.

No Standing Charge tariffs usually have split unit rates where the price of each unit of energy consumed varies with your annual usage. In these cases, the Standing Charge is usually recovered through the higher priced units you consume first.

To check whether No Standing Charge tariffs are your best option, please feel free to search and compare these tariffs with other products listed in our database.

Reward Schemes

Many suppliers are now offering an attractive range of additional benefits above and beyond just savings on your energy bills. If you are a collector of reward points, such as AIRMILES, holiday rewards or retail rewards, then this option is for you.

Search All Tariffs

This option allows you to search the entire tariff database. Results are ranked according to the total cost of your estimated bill. Tariffs with additional features, are highlighted individually.

Payment Options

Why are there so many Payment Options?

There are 2 main reasons.

  • Firstly, suppliers are required by their licence conditions to offer a range of payment methods to consumers. It is a regulatory condition of their right to supply.
  • Secondly, certain suppliers are beginning to offer an increasing range of payment options as a way of differentiating themselves through providing greater flexibility to consumers.

Because different payment methods have different cost implications for suppliers, they will normally charge different rates depending upon how you pay.

What payment method would you recommend?

If price is your main consideration, then monthly direct debit will almost always be the best way to pay, and it is also the most convenient.

What is a Direct Debit?

Direct Debit payments are made automatically from your bank account to your supplier on a pre-arranged date either each month or each quarter. You must have either a bank or building society account to operate a direct debit payment scheme. You will also need to complete a direct debit mandate, which your new supplier will forward onto your bank.

Direct Debit payments are protected by the Direct Debit Scheme, which means that:

  • You can cancel a Direct Debit at any time by writing to your bank or Building Society;
  • The supplier must give you prior written notice, usually 14 days, if they want to change the date or the amount of the payment;
  • If your money is ever collected incorrectly, your bank or building society will give you a full and immediate refund, even if the supplier made the error.

Monthly Direct Debit

The direct debit amount will normally be calculated on the basis of your actual or projected annual energy bill and divided into 12 equal monthly instalments. This amount is normally reviewed once a year and your monthly payments are adjusted accordingly.

Advantages

  • Allows you to budget more effectively and to spread your payments over the course of the year;
  • Ensures that you will not forget to pay your bills, hence avoiding potential hassles with payment reminders and disconnection notices;
  • Direct Debit payments are protected by the Direct Debit Scheme;
  • It is almost always the cheapest way to pay.

Potential Disadvantages

  • The only downside with monthly direct debit is that you give up some flexibility in the way you manage your finances.

Variable Direct Debit

Variable Direct Debit is different to Monthly Direct Debit in that your actual energy bill is deducted from your bank account at the end of a fixed calendar period in which you use the gas or electricity. This calendar period varies depending on the tariff, you signed up for, and can be a quarter, a half year or a year.

Advantages

  • All the advantages that apply to Direct Debit payments generally, will also apply to Variable payments. The main difference is that you only pay for the gas or electricity that you use, in the period in which you used it.

Potential Disadvantages

  • Your bill payments will continue to be lumpy, with higher bills in the winter than in the summer;
  • Certain suppliers will charge more for energy paid by variable direct debit because they do not get the same cashflows benefits that they get from fixed monthly payments.

Cash/Cheque

Also known as Standard Credit, this is where you receive your estimated or actual quarterly bill by post and pay it in the normal way, either by cheque through the post or by cash through your post office. This payment method also includes the option of paying by postal order.

Advantages

  • Allows you to keep control of your finances.

Potential Disadvantages

  • Does not have the convenience of automatic payment schemes such as direct debit, standing order or continuous authorised credit card transactions;
  • Has potential hassles with payment reminders if you forget to pay your bill;
  • Due to expenses incurred for processing cheques, postal orders or cash, this is a more expensive way of paying for your energy bills, compared with other payment methods.

Credit/Charge Card

There are two main ways to pay for your energy with your credit or charge card.

  • Calling your supplier, following receipt of your bill and charging it to your card:
  • Or, having the bill automatically paid with your card under a Continuous Authorised Transaction (CAT).

With CAT schemes, your actual or projected annual energy bill is divided into periodically equal instalments (monthly or quarterly) and automatically billed to your card.

The details of which schemes and cards apply to different tariffs are summarised on the tariff results pages.

Advantages

  • Other than the potential savings on offer, credit card payment also gives you an additional interest free credit period, which can be anything up to 56 days, before you have to pay your bill;
  • It allows you to obtain additional benefits applicable to the credit card of your choice, such as Air Miles, or Barclaycard Reward Points.

Potential Disadvantages

  • CAT schemes allow the supplier to alter the timing and the amount of the payment prior to informing you. However, they are still obliged to inform you, in writing, that the change has been made;
  • CAT schemes do not offer the same level of protection as Direct Debit Schemes. If errors are made with your payments you need to rely on your supplier correcting them;
  • If you want to cancel a CAT, you need the authorisation of the company debiting your card. This will normally happen automatically if you decide to cancel your contract;
  • If you forget to pay your credit or charge card bill on time you will have to pay interest on the unpaid bill at the monthly rate applicable to the card.

Charge Card

Charge card payments are administered in the same way as credit card payment schemes. The main difference is that you must clear your charge card account by the due-date; therefore your interest free period is shorter. However, if you pay your energy bill using your charge card, you will benefit from any loyalty schemes offered by the charge card company.

PC Banking / Telephone Banking

This option allows you to pay your bills either by calling you bank, or online.

Prepayment Meter

Prepayment schemes are ones where you pay up-front for the energy that you use by inserting coins, tokens or cards into your meter.

My Details

Why do you need to know my Postcode?

As energy prices vary by area, we need to know the postcode where you want your new energy supply.  This is to determine the best energy offer available to you.

Why do you need my current supplier's name?

This information will help us identify the tariff that you are currently on. As prices vary by supplier, we need to do this so that we can calculate the savings that you can make by moving to a new supplier or tariff.

Why do you need my current payment method?

This information will help us identify the tariff that you are currently on. As prices vary depending upon how you pay your bill, we need to do this so that we can calculate the savings that you can make by moving to a new supplier or tariff.

Why do you need to know my annual bill?

To match you to the tariff best suited to your needs we need to know how much energy you consume. You can either provide this information directly or provide us with your annual bill. From the combined details of your annual bill, current supplier and current payment method, we can calculate your annual consumption.

Why do you need to know the amount of energy that I use?

To match you to the tariff best suited to your needs we need to know how much energy you consume. You can either provide this information directly or provide us with an estimate of your annual bill from which we will calculate your annual consumption.

Competition

When did competition in the gas and electricity markets begin?

Competition was introduced into the domestic energy markets in Great Britain in phases from April 1996 through to May 1999, initially for gas and then for electricity. All households in Great Britain are now free to choose their suppliers of electricity and gas.

Changing Supplier

Why should I consider changing supplier?

You could save yourself a considerable amount of money. In addition to the savings, most suppliers now offer a range of additional features with their product offerings which can not only make it more convenient for you to pay your bill (e.g. by PC banking ), but also allow you to earn loyalty points (for instance, AirMiles, Retail Clubcard Points, etc.). In addition to each supplier's tariff, we have a catalogue of all the available payment options and product features. This allows you to pick the product you want easily and quickly.

How much can I save by switching suppliers?

The amount you save depends on a number of factors:

  • The amount of competition in your area;
  • How aggressive the pricing policy of your existing supplier is;
  • How much energy you use;
  • How you pay your bill.

If you look at the home page on our website you will see the average and maximum savings that customers using our service have achieved in the previous 60 days. These are real-time figures so are always current.

Will there be any interruption to my gas or electricity supply?

Absolutely not.  Your new supplier will use exactly the same wires, pipes and meters that you currently use. Your new supplier will also contact your existing supplier to arrange for the transfer of your supply. The only thing that you will notice is that your bill will come from your new supplier.

What about customer service?

If you want to apply to a new supplier we recommend that you check the description of the new supplier that we have compiled for you. You can do this by following the links from the tariff results pages. These descriptions will contain information on the range of services offered by the new supplier. You can also obtain information on a suppliers level of customer service, such as call centre availability, by calling the supplier direct.

Also on the results page after carrying out a search you will see a star rating beside each tariff, click this and you will see on a real-time basis what existing customers think of the service provided by a particular supplier.

Choosing a New Supplier

What should I take into consideration when choosing a supplier?

There are multiple factors that you should consider in working out which product and supplier is right for you. These include prices, payment options, contract terms, and any other benefits and services on offer. Fortunately, this service has pulled together all this information in one easy to use website, in order to make this easier for you.

Changing Your Current Supplier

Do I need to contact my existing supplier if I want to switch supplier?

Your new supplier will arrange the transfer for you. You do not need to contact your previous supplier. Once you have signed up for a new supply contract, your new supplier will let your previous supplier know on what date the change is taking place. You should ensure that you pay your final bill promptly. If you pay by direct debit or standing order, please make sure you cancel these arrangements once the final bill has been paid.

Who reads my meter when I change supplier?

Your meter reading needs to be taken when you change supplier. Your new supplier will either arrange for your meter reading to be taken, or they may ask you to take the reading yourself. Details of the final reading will be sent from your new supplier to your old one, so that your previous supplier can send you a final bill.

Please keep a note of your meter reading on the date that you transfer supplier. You will need this information if you do not agree with your final bill.

What happens if I am in debt to my previous supplier before switching to my new supplier?

If you do not pay your final bill promptly, the new supplier may be asked to add the outstanding amount to your next bill. You may also incur additional charges for late payment.

Can my current supplier prevent me from switching to a new supplier?

As long as you are not in debt with your existing supplier, they cannot prevent you from switching.

Contracts

Will I need a contract?

If you are changing supplier you will have to enter into a contract with the new supplier. The contract will specify the price you will pay and the terms and conditions of supply.

Can I cancel a contract once I have applied for it?

After signing up to a new energy supplier or new tariff, you are entitled to a 'cooling off' period of between 7 to 14 days. Each supplier has different periods and you will see this in the confirmation letter or email that you recieve from both us and the new supplier. During this period, you can cancel the contract without penalty. After the 'cooling off' period has lapsed, you will have to give the supplier notice of your intention to end the contract. The notice that you need to give will depend upon the type of contract you took. Most contracts require 28 days notice prior to termination.

How many different types of contract are there?

There are two basic types of contract; rolling contracts or fixed term contracts.

What is a rolling contract?

A rolling contract (sometimes also called an evergreen contract) is one that carries on until you cancel it. During the period of the contract, the price of electricity can go up or down in accordance with the terms of the contract, unless the price was noted as being capped or fixed and in which case this will relate to the specified period. You can end this type of contract at any time on 28 days notice if you are moving to another supplier, or 2 days notice if you are moving house.

Since mid 2008 more and more rolling contracts have an early termination fee that is payable should you leave the particular tariff within a specified period. You will see this clearly marked with any information related to the tariff.

What is a fixed term contract?

This contract is fixed for a given period, perhaps one or two years. If you terminate a fixed term contract early, you may be liable to pay an early termination fee. In most instances a supplier will only charge an early termination fee if you leave the tariff and move to another supplier or tariff. If you are moving home you will not have to pay an early termination fee.

What happens if my new supplier increases its prices or changes contract terms?

The supplier must provide at least 10 days notice in writing to announce significant changes in the terms of contract. You will then have a further 14 days to decide and let your existing supplier know whether you intend to end your contract and switch to another supplier. If you do decide to move within this timeframe, you will continue to be billed for the energy you use at the old contract terms until such time as you transfer to your new supplier. You will not be liable for any cancellation fees.

If you are unhappy with any price increase, please come back to us to see if we can get you a better deal.

Moving Home

What should I do about my suppliers before I move?

You need to give your supplier at least two days notice before you move. Your supplier will then arrange for a meter reading to be taken or, more likely, ask you to give them the meter reading. This will be used to calculate your final bill. If you do not tell your supplier that you are moving, you may be liable for the bill at your old address until the earlier of:

  • 2 days after you notify your supplier that you have moved, or;
  • the date that the meter at your old address is next read, or;
  • the date the new occupiers enter into an agreement with a supplier for the supply of the old premises.

Do I incur any charges if I am moving house?

No. You need to give your existing supplier at least two days notice of your move. Other than that, you will not incur any penalties for early contract termination in these circumstances.

How can this service help me when I am moving home?

If you are planning to move, visit this service. We can then help you find and sign up for a new supplier at your new home. We will ensure that your supply starts on the day that you move into the new property.

Safety

Who is responsible for safety and supply interruptions?

Your supplier must provide you with a 24-hour emergency number which you should call if you think there is a safety problem with your meter, the electricity cables, gas lines or other equipment running into your home. You should also call this number if you experience any energy cuts at your home.

Your supply company is not actually responsible for the wires, cables and pipes that supply energy into your home; this is the responsibility of the local distribution company. If you have a power cut which is not restored within 24 hours, then you are entitled to claim compensation.

What should I do if there is a gas leak?

The company responsible for all gas emergencies is Transco. Their national Freephone number for emergencies is 0800 111 999.

Difficulty with Paying Your Bills

What should I do if I have difficulty paying my bills?

Under the terms of their supply license, suppliers must offer you help and advice if you have difficulties paying your bills. You should contact your supplier as soon as possible to discuss available options if you think that you may get into difficulties paying your bill.

How can my supplier help me?

Your supplier should discuss with you the best way to pay your bill. They should be able to provide you with the following services:

  • Arranging a payment plan to clear the debt in instalments;
  • Installing a pre-payment meter, if it is safe and practical to do so. Each time the meter is credited, a portion of the credit is used to pay off the debt;
  • Accepting deductions from your social security benefits;
  • Providing information about how you might be able to reduce your bills by using electricity more efficiently.

What happens if I can't pay my bill? Could I be disconnected?

If you are in debt to a supplier, and you refuse to accept any arrangements your supplier puts forward to try and clear your debt, your household may be disconnected until such time as you make arrangements to clear your debt.

Energy suppliers have a commitment to avoid disconnecting customers who are elderly, disabled or chronically ill, during the winter months.

Is there anything else that I can do?

If you have difficulty paying your bills, and are unhappy with the way your supplier has handled your problems, you should contact the consumer watchdog Consumer Focus to see if they can provide any additional advice.

Regulation

Who regulates the suppliers?

The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets - Ofgem - is the independent regulator of the two energy markets. New suppliers need to be authorised by Ofgem before they can supply you with gas and/or electricity. Ofgem will ensure that suppliers are able to supply sufficient energy to meet the demands of their customers.

Who is Consumer Focus?

Consumer Focus is the statutory organisation campaigning for a fair deal for consumers in England, Wales, Scotland, and, for postal services, Northern Ireland.

Advice for inpiduals on energy and post is given by Consumer Direct (08454 04 05 06).

They are the voice of the consumer, and work to secure a fair deal on your behalf. They were created through the merger of three consumer organisations energywatch, Postwatch and the National Consumer Council (including the Welsh and Scottish Consumer Councils). The new approach allows for more joined-up consumer advocacy, with a single organisation speaking with a powerful voice and able to more readily bring cross-sector expertise to issues of concern.

Their aims are set out in their Forward Work Plan and they've already made considerable progress towards the aims set out in it. They are also strengthening our relationships with our key partner organisations and individuals.

Consumer Focus has strong legislative powers. These include the right to investigate any consumer complaint if they are of wider interest, the right to open up information from providers, the power to conduct research and the ability to make an official super-complaint about failing services.

With around 170 employees, they aim to be the strongest advocacy body in the history of the UK consumer movement.

They are not an advice agency nor are they a statutory regulator. Other bodies such as Consumer Direct, Citizens Advice, local authority trading standards and the Office of Fair Trading play these roles.

What is the Gas Consumers Council?

It is a statutory body representing the interests of Gas Consumers in the UK. They offer free help and advice. They can be contacted on 020 7931 0977, or by post at Gas Consumers Council, Abford House, 15 Wilton Road, London, SW1V 1LT.

What are the Electricity Consumers' Committees?

They are groups representing the interests of electricity consumers in their local areas by providing help and advice to anyone who has a problem with their electricity company. In total there are 14 Committees spread across England, Scotland and Wales. Each has between 10 and 20 volunteer local members and a chairman.

Services for elderly, disabled and chronically sick customers

What services are available?

All energy suppliers are required, under the terms of their licenses, to produce and comply with a Code of Practice that sets out services for elderly, disabled and chronically ill customers. Suppliers must provide additional help to such disadvantaged customers on request. Ofgem is responsible for monitoring adherence to this code.

Who qualifies for additional help?

You can get special help if you are a domestic customer and either a pensioner, disabled or chronically ill. There are also special services for the blind and deaf. If you qualify for special assistance, we recommend you inform your supplier of your status.

What information do the suppliers need?

Energy suppliers are required to keep a record of customers who are of pensionable age, disabled or chronically ill. If you qualify, it is in your interest to notify your supplier of your status. This information will allow your supplier to identify your special needs and give you special advice and assistance. For electricity, the supplier may, with your consent, pass this information onto the distribution company that maintains the cables, wires and pipes that supply energy to your home. This will enable the distribution company to notify you well in advance of a supply interruption.

What sort of additional help is available?

If you qualify, you may be able to obtain special arrangements with respect to the use and positioning of your meter, additional security measures associated with identifying anyone working for the supplier who enters your home, and with respect to where your bills are sent. Suppliers are also required not to disconnect vulnerable customers, with outstanding bills, during the winter months.

Energy efficiency

How can I use energy more efficiently?

We have created an entire section on Energy Efficiency and this is available by clicking here.

Where else can I find information on energy efficiency?

There are many sources of information but often that advice is linked to some form of commercial product or paid for service. We would recommend contacting the Energy Savings Trust who special in providing specialist, non-biased advice. They have been around since 1992 and are a social enterprise with a Charitable Foundation. Their website is available by clicking here

What is Economy 7 electricity?

Economy 7 allows you to benefit from 7 hours of cheaper energy during night hours. Economy 7 requires a special Multi-Rate meter to be installed at your home.

Your Meter

What kind of electricity meter do I have?

There are 3 main types of electricity meter. A single rate meter (which is the most common ); a multi-rate meter, which allows you to take advantage of cheap-rate electricity at night (Economy 7), and a pre-payment meter, where you pay for the electricity in advance of using it.

Will my meter change if I switch electricity supplier?

No. You don't have to touch your meter at all when changing electricity supplier although you may be asked to read it. If you wish, you can decide that you would like to have a different type of meter, such as moving from a single rate meter to either multi-rate or prepayment. Contact your supplier if you want to change your meter.

Who reads the meter when I change supplier?

That depends on your new supplier. The supplier may either arrange for someone to come and read your meter, or may ask you to read your meter yourself. Either way, it is useful for you to make - and keep a note of - the reading to ensure that you agree with the final bill from your old supplier when it arrives.

What if my meter is not measuring my consumption accurately?

If you think there is a problem with your meter, rather than your bill (which may be based on an estimate) you should contact your supplier. The supplier will be able to perform a simple test to ensure that the meter is working properly. If you are still worried about the meter's accuracy, you can ask your supplier to have the meter examined by Ofgem's Meter Examining Service, which is a free test. If you have been overcharged, your supplier will have to repay you the amount overpaid. Be aware though, that an examination may find that you have been undercharged, in which case the supplier has the right to charge for the extra energy that you have used.

What do I do if I want to move my meter?

You need to contact your supplier. Unless you are registered as a vulnerable customer, you may be charged for this service. If you qualify as a vulnerable customer, the service will be free of charge.

The Final Bill

How is the final bill calculated?

The meter reading taken at the time you change supplier will be used to calculate the final bill from your previous supplier. The final bill will be adjusted to account for any under or overpayments due from previous estimated bills. The final bill will show the payments you have made, how much energy you have used and any balance outstanding.

What if I disagree with the final bill from my previous supplier?

If you feel you have been overcharged, you should contact your previous supplier and give them the meter reading from the day you changed supplier. It is up to your old supplier to resolve the issue with you. If you are unhappy with the response you get you should contact energywatch; who are in a position to investigate the matter further. The energywatch website address is www.energywatch.org.uk.

By when do I have to pay my final bill?

You should pay your final bill within 28 days. If you have difficulty paying it, your old supplier may agree that you can pay the bill in instalments. Alternatively, your new supplier may agree to let you transfer the balance onto your next new bill. Be aware that you may incur additional charges for late payment.

The Supply Number

What is a supply number?

A supply number, also referred to as "S" number, is a unique reference which identifies the electricity meter at your property. The Supply number contains information (i.e. meter type) required by your new supplier.

Where can I find my supply number?

The supply number appears on your bill. In almost all cases each household will have only one supply number per meter.

What does a supply number look like?

The standard format for an electricity supply number is:

supply number

The top line of the supply number contains information about whether you are a domestic or business consumer, and which tariff you are on. It will therefore change as you change your supply details.

The bottom line of the supply number contains information about the local electricity distribution company responsible for maintaining the cables and wires carrying electricity into your home, plus a unique reference number to identify the meter in your property. The bottom line of information will not change when you switch supplier.

Dual Fuel

What is a dual fuel offer?

A Dual Fuel offer is one where a single company supplies you with both gas and electricity.

Who can I buy dual fuel packages from?

Any supplier with both a gas supply, and an electricity supply licence can offer dual fuel packages. Click the dual fuel button on this service's home page to find the supplier and deal best suited for you.

What are the benefits of signing up to a dual fuel contract?

There are two main benefits; price and convenience.

  • Companies offering dual fuel packages will sometimes offer you an additional discount if you buy both gas and electricity from them. This can vary from being a fixed reduction in the overall bill to a special rate for one or other of the fuels you take.
  • The benefit of convenience associated with dual fuel is that you only need to deal with one company should there be a bill query, complaint or when moving home. Certain suppliers will also offer the convenience of a single bill.

What if I don't use gas at my home?

In that case, do not worry about applying for a dual fuel contract. Check out this service's range of electricity offers instead.

Can I switch from a dual fuel contract to separate contracts from different suppliers?

Yes, provided that you give your dual fuel supplier the required amount of notice (usually 28 days). You should also bear in mind that you may lose existing discounts if you change your supply arrangements with your current supplier. Other terms and conditions of supply may also change.

How will I receive my gas and electricity bills?

That very much depends on the supplier. Most will still bill you seperately for each fuel, but some will provide a single bill or statement for both fuels. Where suppliers offer a single bill, this information is shown on the relevant tariff page.

Can I opt for different payment methods for the different fuels in a dual fuel contract?

Yes, you can. However, you may be giving up some of the convenience that goes with opting for a dual fuel contract.

Is dual fuel the cheapest option?

Dual fuel deals are not necessarily the best deals on the market if you are only interested in the lowest price. Use this service to compare the results from dual fuel searches with those for individual fuels to see what suits your circumstances best.

What if I have difficulty paying my dual fuel bills?

The rules governing the supply of each fuel require the supplier to offer help to customers who run into difficulty paying their bills. This can range from offering different payment schedules through to installing a prepayment meter. Furthermore, if you are in debt to your supplier, you may be prevented from switching to another supplier on either fuel.