Online plans are extrememly competitive compared to other types of tariffs. So, what's the difference?
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There are many different types of energy plan on the market, including 'standard' plans, 'green' plans and 'online' energy plans, so how do you know which one to choose?
They all have different features and benefits, but online plans are almost always the cheapest. We look at why this is and whether you should always choose online energy plans.
What is an online energy plan?
The difference between online energy plans and other energy plans is relatively small. They vary from supplier to supplier, but the most common factor you'll find with online energy plans is that you'll need to sign-up online.
However, some energy suppliers treat online plans like any standard energy plan - they will continue to send you paper bills and you'll manage your account as normal.
However, it's more likely that you'll manage your account online.
This means you won't get paper bills, instead you'll get an email and you'll also have to go online to give your meter readings.
It's more likely that you'll manage your account online
Typically online energy plans are managed online. Whereas you would usually receive your energy statements through the post, with an inline plan they appear online.
Likewise, instead of submitting meter readings over the phone many online energy plans will let you submit your meter readings online through a dedicated account on their website.
What are the benefits of online energy plans?
The great thing about online energy plans is that not only is it easier to manage your account, but they’re cheaper too. Online energy plans enjoy a host of benefits that don't always come with other types of plan:
Much lower prices:online energy plans are often hundreds of pounds cheaper than the same supplier's standard plan. This is because managing an account online is cheaper for your supplier too, as they don’t have to worry about sending out mail or staffing as many call centres.
Lower administrative costsmeaning the supplier can pass on the savings to their customers.
Good for the environment:if you choose to receive paperless billing, you can cut down on the amount of paperwork you receive. That means less clutter in your home and fewer trees being cut down.
Excellent discounts:large discounts are often available if you take an online plan, with even further discounts are available if you pay by Direct Debit.
Enter your meter readings online:most suppliers offer you the option of entering your meter readings online. It's quick, easy, and ensures that you will always receive accurate bills.
Could I save with an online energy plan?
Online energy plans are generally much more competitive than standard plans - which works out as a big discount off the average energy bill. If you’re not yet online, or not familiar with the internet, you may not be comfortable managing your account online, but if you’re internet-savvy and not yet managing your account online you are simpy throwing money away.
To find out if you could save money by switching to an online energy plan, simply compare gas and electricity prices at uSwitch. All online plans will be listed in the results, along with the savings you could make.
If you do go online there are still some steps you should take to ensure you are in control of your energy. Make sure you are on a Direct Debit payment plan so you never miss a payment. You should also make sure you look at every energy statement to understand your spending. If nothing else this will remind you to check you are still on the cheapest plan in future.
How do I know if I've got an online energy plan already?
Just because you signed-up online, or manage your account online that doesn't automatically mean you're on an online plan, as these features are available with standard plans too.
Look at the name of your plan - if it's got 'online' or 'web' in the name, that's a good clue that you're on an online energy plan. If you're in any doubt, call your energy supplier and check.
Either way the most important thing is you are getting the best deal for your energy. If you’re in any doubt just run an energy comparison using our switching service and we’ll show you all the best deals, whether they’re online or not.
I'm already on an online energy plan - does that mean I've got the best deal already?
If you're already on an online energy plan - congratulations, you're probably getting a good deal on your gas and electricity.
However, don't be complacent - even if you already have an online energy plan, it's a good idea to review your situation now and again and check that the plan you're on is still the best deal for you.
Energy suppliers bring out new plans all the time, so it's a good idea to compare gas and electricity prices regularly.
Why aren’t all energy plans online?
While it makes sense to opt for an online energy plan for you, they aren’t suitable for everyone. If you have only recently gone online, or are still not comfortable using the internet, then you may find online billing confusing.
Some of us may also prefer seeing our tangible bills in our hands. After all, it’s much easier to forget about an energy bill, or ignore its cost, when it’s just an email or alert.
Others may also find the idea of dealing with such personal details online to be dangerous, although energy companies operate at a high level of security.
There have been a number of complaints about the lower cost of online energy plans, from those who aren’t online and are charged more, that by making offline energy plans more expensive energy companies are subsidising cheaper online tariffs.