Following my appearance on BBC’s “Watchdog”, I’ve been bombarded with questions about when consumers should switch energy deal to avoid getting hit with a price rise.
The simple answer is now.
In the past few weeks, more than half of the big six energy suppliers — British Gas, npower, ScottishPower and SSE — have all announced energy price rises averaging just under 10%. I fully expect the other two, E.ON and EDF, to follow up with price hikes of their own.
So, why switch now if soon every supplier will have put its prices up?
Because you can protect yourself from price rises with a fixed price tariff. Signing up to a ‘fixed price’ or ‘fixed rate’ energy contract means you’ll pay a slight premium on energy prices, but also guarantees these rates won’t go up for the duration of the contract. This means that you can shield against any hikes for close to three winters.
Having said that, although there are currently quite a few competitive fixed price deals out there, I have no doubt that these will disappear in the not-too-distant future.
What are the best gas and electricity deals available now?
This really depends on your personal circumstances, including where you are and how many people you live with. The easiest way to find out is by running an energy comparison. This only takes a few minutes and is a simple process that could not only save you a lot of money, but also protect you from price rises.
Currently, the longest fixed price plan available is EDF Energy’s Blue+Price Freeeeze March 2017. This deal would cost the average user £1,340 per year and has no early exit fee — which means you’re free to switch again if a better deal comes along. The offer is likely to be pulled should EDF raise their prices.
It’s also worth mentioning that First Utility, the UK’s largest independent energy supplier, has promised to freeze its prices this winter.
Tom Lyon appeared on yesterday’s edition of BBC’s Watchdog. During the programme he helped three households compare gas and electricity prices. You can watch the full episode here for more switching tips and to find out how much each household saved.