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Energy FAQs: gas and electricity prices and rates

Our collection of questions and answers for energy prices and rates. Will energy prices go up or down in 2018? Why is your electricity cheaper at night? Looking to calculate your energy costs? We can help.

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Are electricity prices set to fall in 2018?

In 2017, seven of the major electricity suppliers announced price rises - with some going as high as 12.5%. That's the equivalent of £76 a year added to a household's annual bill.

There is little to suggest that this trend will not continue into 2018, although energy regulator, Ofgem has said it is their aim to curb the amount of households affected by price rises by pushing suppliers to move customers off of standard variable rate tariffs.

Either way, it's a good idea to run an energy comparison to see if your deal is the best out there for you — you could save up to £491.

Why are electricity rates cheaper at night?

Electricity rate costs are the same regardless of the time you are using it, unless you are on an Economy 7 tariff.

If you're not on an Economy 7 electricity tariff (or similar time-of-use type tariff such as economy 10), then your rates will not change unless your supplier changes them — by announcing a price rise, for example. However, they must provide 30 days notice if they are planning a price change to your tariff.

If you do have an Economy 7 electricity meter and tariff, then your electricity rates are cheaper at night, usually between midnight and 7am. However, the prices in the daytime (during all other hours) are often much more expensive, making any potential savings from running appliances like dishwashers and water storage heaters during these hours negligible.

What are my electricity prices per unit?

The energy deal you are on, and the energy supplier you are with, determine your cost per unit of electricity (measured in kWh).

To find this per unit cost, you'll need to check your most recent energy bill or simply call your supplier to ask. Once you know your plan and supplier, you can compare your electricity prices to check for better deals.

If you're struggling to find the right info on your bill you can use our handy guide.

You can also scan your energy bill quickly and instantly using the uSwitch app for a faster way to switch.

Are my electricity bills a variable cost?

Yes — as the amount of electricity you use can change each month, the amount you pay monthly can change, too.

Additionally, if you have never switched your electricity supplier before or have recently moved home, then you are almost certainly on a variable rate tariff with your energy provider, which means your electricity costs can vary greatly month to month if your energy supplier announces a price rise.

If you would prefer to keep your monthly bills as consistent as possible, you can pay your bills by monthly direct debit. Monthly direct debit is set by taking an average of your predicted annual costs and spreading it across 12 payments. That means you'll pay as much in the winter as you do in the summer — you'll still pay for what you use, but averaged across the year so there are no bill shocks come February.

How do I calculate my electricity bills?

You can calculate your electricity bills by looking at the amount of energy you use in kWh (kilowatt hour). Your electricity costs are measured as the price per kWh (i.e. the amount you pay per kilowatt hour).

If you look at your bill you can see how much your electricity costs you, and it will show you the total kWh usage fr the period the bill covers.

A kWh is essentially 1,000 watts of energy used in an hour. If you have a computer that uses 100 watts of energy and you use it for 10 hours, then that will have cost you 1kWh. You can calculate the cost per kWh by simply multiplying the wattage on an appliance by the time you use it for.

You can learn more in our guide to electricity and gas prices per kWh.

How is electricity measured?

Electricity is measured in kWh (kilowatt hour). 1kWh is 1,000 watts used in an hour. The price you pay for electricity will usually be billed as per kWh.

If you have a 60 watt television and you use it for 50 hours in a month, you can measure it as 3kWh (60 x 50 = 3,000). If your electricity costs 30p/kWh, then it could have cost you 90p to run your television for a month.

Will electricity ever be free?

Some experts have argued that renewable energy such as solar and wind could have the power to one day provide electricity to homes for free. Currently, renewable energy makes up a small but growing proportion of the UK's energy supply.

If you are looking for cheaper electricity right now, you can compare deals and switch suppliers to get the best possible deal.

Will gas prices come down in 2018?

Globally, gas prices are set to reach a four-year high in 2018, so it is very unlikely that gas prices will come down.

How do I get the cheapest business electricity rates?

Most businesses use an agent to help negotiate a commercial electricity deal as it takes time and expertise. uSwitch's business energy team can do this for you and help you find the best deal to switch to. The service is free to use.

Simply request a call back from the uSwitch for Business team and they'll get back to you at a time convenient to you. On the call, tell our business energy expert what your priorities are; whether it's to find the cheapest deal or to get your power up and running as quick as possible, and they'll be able to connect you with a range of business energy suppliers best suited for you.

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Why pay more for the same energy?

Find and switch to a better energy deal in minutes