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Shop For The Best Energy Deal

Big Energy Saving Week

Big Energy Saving Week

As part of Big Energy Saving Week (22-27 October) Consumer Focus and Citizens Advice are today urging energy customers to check on a Confidence Code accredited price comparison site to see if they can find a better energy tariff. The call comes as new figures show many people could be missing out on the best deal by not shopping around.

Six million households plan to cut back on their heating this winter because of worries about energy costs. Switching energy provider can help you to make big savings off your bills – and using a price comparison service enables you to find the cheapest and best deal for you easily by comparing all those available on the market. Yet new Consumer Focus research shows that only a third of consumers (33 per cent) use a price comparison service when switching.

The research findings show that it is more common that consumers switch after being contacted directly by an energy supplier (36 per cent) than using a comparison service. This is concerning as many suppliers don’t offer their best deals face-to-face or over the phone – as the cheapest deals are usually online only.

Consumers being contacted by their supplier will also not have access to information on the range of deals on the market. Therefore even many consumers who have switched may not be getting the best deal available, if they haven’t checked the rates available on a price comparison service.

Audrey Gallacher, Director of Energy at Consumer Focus, said:

‘Energy prices are a big worry for many households across the country and switching tariff and/or supplier is one way to help save cash off your bills. Yet many people either don’t switch at all or switch without knowing whether they’re getting the best deal available. Using a Confidence Code accredited price comparison site will put the information you need at your fingertips to help you decide whether to switch your energy firm.’

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive at Citizens Advice, said:

‘Just 15% of people have switched to a different energy supplier in a bid to cut their bills – meaning many people are missing out on hundreds of pounds worth of savings. It’s important to shop around for the best deal to make sure you’re not paying over the odds for your energy this winter. We see people who are fraught with their finances as they try to pay for essentials like food, petrol, heating and school uniforms while battling with rising costs and often shrinking incomes too.’

There are 12 price comparison websites accredited to the Consumer Focus Confidence Code: UKPower.co.uk , uSwitch.com , SimplySwitch , TheEnergyShop.com , beatthatquote.com , MoneySupermarket.com , Unravelit , Energylinx , Fuelswitch.com , Which? Switch , energyhelpline.com , switchgasandelectric.com. Many of these websites also offer phone services.

There will be 400 Big Energy Saving Week events across Britain helping people save money on their energy bills including big events in London and Bridgend. Advice is also available online at www.bigenergysavingweek.org.uk, on the phone 0300 123 1234 or through your local Citizens Advice Bureau. During Big Energy Saving Week advisers from CAB, local Age UKs and ACRE will be out and about at supermarkets, town halls, libraries and even market stalls explaining how people can cut their energy bills.

Consumer Focus and Citizens Advice are also offering the following 6 top tips on successful switching:

Select the details you’ll need – To compare tariffs you will need: the name of your tariff; and how much you spent, or how many units you used, of electricity and gas in the last year (or per month if you pay monthly). Check your most recent bill for these details.

What is the best way to pay? – Not everyone can, or wants, to pay by direct debit. But if you pay by cash, cheque or pre-payment meter switching to direct debit could potentially save you up to £200 per year. Dual fuel is often the cheapest way to pay but it is sometimes cheaper to have different gas and electricity providers – so it pays to check both options.

It pays to shop around – Shopping around using an independent price comparison service accredited by Consumer Focus’s Confidence code guarantees you get the most up-to-date and reliable information on all the deals available. Many also offer a telephone service.

The buck stops with your energy firm – All major suppliers have committed to resolving problems with switching and not leave it up to customers. So if there is a problem with your switch the new and old company must work together to resolve it.

Check your meter reading – Take meter readings on the day you request to switch and on the day your supply will be switching over (your new supplier should let you know this date). Give these to your old and new energy firm to make sure you get charged the right amount.

How long does it take? – Energy firms are required to carry out energy switches within 5 weeks in total from the day you first request it (this includes a two-week cooling off period). If your switch is not completed within 5 weeks, remind your supplier of this requirement.

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