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Act today before it’s too late to get a good deal on your energy

Act before it’s too late to get a good deal on your energy

Most of us will be aware that something is going on at the moment with energy prices – the papers have been full of ‘experts’ keen to talk up a full-blown price hike based on an upward trend in online prices. At best the arguments being made are confused, but at worst they are highly misleading. I think it’s time to put the record straight.

We can’t get away from the fact that there is some uncertainty at the moment, but while wholesale prices have gone up it is important to view this in context. Firstly, wholesale prices are still comparatively low compared with 2008 when household energy prices rocketed by 42%. Secondly, we don’t know whether we are looking at a short-term blip or an ongoing trend. The truth is that suppliers would need to see a consistent trend in substantially higher wholesale prices before they could justify a general price hike and we are far from seeing that yet. That’s not to say it won’t happen, and I have no doubt that we will see energy prices on the rise again, but I would be very surprised if it’s this year.

Online plans however are a different ball game. They are far more keenly priced and also far more likely to reflect any volatility in the market. Online prices have been creeping upwards recently as suppliers pull their most competitive deals and replace them with more costly versions. And while this could be blamed entirely on rising wholesale costs, I think anyone doing so is missing another important point. The coalition Government has already indicated that suppliers will need to start displaying their lowest tariffs on bills and Ofgem is currently looking at cost reflectivity. The natural reaction to news like this is for suppliers to start narrowing the gap between the cheapest online prices and the more expensive standard prices and I think that a lot of the recent changes we’ve been seeing can be attributed to this as much as to wholesale prices.

But when it comes to the impact on our energy bills, it doesn’t matter what is causing the change so much as what consumers can do about it. And there is still some really good news here – although prices are creeping up, online plans are still coming in at around £300 a year cheaper than standard plans. The average annual household energy bill for those online is £900 compared to £1,194 for standard plan customers. This is still a significant saving, but one that will gradually be eroded if suppliers continue to chip away at their online prices. So my advice to consumers is very simple. Don’t hang around – sign up to an online plan today before all the competitive deals are pulled. If the deal you take is a fixed price online plan this will guarantee your prices for the length of the ‘fix’ – great if it lasts for over 12 months given that prices could be on the up again next year.

But even if it’s not fixed, you will still benefit from lower prices straight away and will enjoy a certain level of protection. This is because suppliers are closing their existing plans to new business, but leaving existing customers on them while bringing out a higher priced new plan. Customers already on the plan are left paying the lower price, at least for the time being, so there really is everything to gain and very little to lose by snapping up a competitive online deal today…

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  • Raymond Cohen

    I,m at present with British Gas,I pay my bills (Gas & Electric) monthly as they come due. I handle my account online.

    I,de like to consider moving my supplier, but it,s difficult to make a comparison, as I’ve only been with this supplier 5 months,(and each of the monthly payments have ofcourse been different

    My account details are
    :-Energy Smart Online Saver
    Paperless Billing

    Could you advise me if I should Switch ?

    I remain R Cohen

    • Ann Robinson

      Hello Raymond,

      I’d suggest that you either do comparison on our website or give our call centre a ring on 0800 404 7961 – that way you’ll be able to get the best idea about whether or not it’s right to switch. Or you could email editor with a contact phone number and we’ll call you!

      Because you’ve only been with your supplier for 5 months, it might be best to put in some details about your home and lifestyle when you do your comparison so we can get the most accurate picture of your usage. Alternatively, you could wait until you get your next energy bill, because it should have an annual estimate which will give you a pretty accurate picture of your usage.


  • David Barnes

    I work in the Gas industry at a large gas compressor station , We are aware that the price of gas and the market fluctuates everyday and its bought cheap and stored then resold when the price goes up , its common pratice ,Our whole station running schedule is set not by enginneers but by the accountants .
    The whole gas indutry is just a big con and your made to think that “They” buy gas at a wholesale price but that price is never the same we have 6 large turbines that push gas into the network and its summer time and we have 3 running becuase gas is cheap and they store it ,come winter time we will only run the 2 turbines as the price of gas goes up again so they sell the stored gas and make huge profits , The goverment should get involved and stop this better still we should not pay any sort of tax on any fuel that you need to heat your home and just live

  • Dougy Hankinson

    Having moved into my flat 1 1/2 months ago & after finding that British Gas & Scottish Power provided the gas & electricity respectively, my first instinct was to switch supplier.

    Both tried to get me to go to them for Dual Fuel, but I prefered Atlantic. Have been with them before & I like the customer service that is provided (without the hard-sell tactics!).

    One thing that annoyed me with British Gas was that they took out an advance payment of £20, then the normal direct debit within a few days. I hope they are quick enough to gice me this money back.

    Also, when the transfer date came I cancelled the Direct debits from my bank account for BG & SP. Within a few days I received letters from both, stating that the Direct Debit had been cancelled from my bank, they don’t miss a trick do they!!

    I am just waiting now for the final bills from previous suppliers, and then I can relax a bit…