Managing your energy bills

Figuring out if you are getting the best deal on your energy bills and comparing energy suppliers can be daunting, but there is help available.

You can find a few simple tips and pointers below, but please visit the Money Saving Expert website if you are looking for the latest deals and advice – we think they have the most comprehensive and up-to-date information in the UK.

Consider switching tariffs or providers

First and foremost, and even if you are in contract, it can be beneficial to regularly compare tariffs and providers to see if you have the potential to make a saving. It’s a relatively simple process if you use an Ofgem approved comparison site such as Money Saving Experts’ Cheap Energy Club or Uswitch – you may find that you can switch to a cheaper tariff with your current provider. There is no obligation to change once you have the comparison results.

The Ofgem website has a list of other accredited price comparison sites: Switching energy tariff or supplier.

If you have a set term contract, you may find that you must pay a fee to come out of it early – make sure you take this into account when looking at your comparison results. It is also worth checking for any money owed on your existing account, whether that’s to you or your provider.

When starting a comparison, you’ll need to know the following:

  • who your current supplier is and how you pay them;
  • the name of your current tariff and whether it is fixed until a certain date;
  • if possible, your actual annual usage over the last 12 months for both gas and electric;
  • the type of meter you have, such as a smart meter, a prepay meter, a dial or digital meter, or a variable rate meter (this usually has a cheaper rate at night, then a standard rate during the day);
  • if you are on a prepay meter, consider if you could pay by direct debit and switch to a standard/billed meter;
  • if you are eligible for any financial support, such as the Warm Homes Discount or the Priority Services Register.

Most of this information should be available on your existing account, on a bill or annual statement, so check there first. Also, look at your meter to see what type it is and to get a current meter reading – this can be useful for checking that your existing provider has the right reading.

Most comparison sites will guide you through the process of entering the information they need, and they tend to explain how to obtain that information too. Once you have some results to check through, make sure you look at customer reviews to get an idea of how ‘good’ each provider is – don’t just pick the cheapest.

If you find a better deal and decide to switch, your new and existing providers should handle the process for you. You should have 14 days to opt out if you change your mind.

For more detailed advice, please see Uswitch’s guide to switching.

See if you can get a smart meter

Smart meters automatically send your meter readings to your energy supplier, and they provide you with an accurate overview of your energy usage in pounds and pence. They are bringing an end to estimated bills and the need to send meter readings yourself. And best of all, they are being rolled out across the UK free of charge by most energy providers.

If you don’t already have a smart meter, we recommend contacting your energy supplier about getting one installed. They will need to send an engineer to your property to do this, so you will need to book an installation slot. Obviously, if you are renting, you should check with your landlord first.

For more information, please see these articles:

Understand your energy bills

It is important that you can fully understand the details on your energy bills to make sure you are being charged the right amount, and to see if you are over or under paying each month.

Each supplier will have a different layout for their bills, which can confuse things. Fortunately there are guides available to help explain everything: