Six ways to fight back against greedy energy companies!
Fed up with paying through the nose for your gas and electricity while your supplier continues to profit? Follow these top tips to slash you bills!
This week saw another raft of annoucements from energy companies about cuts in energy tariffs.
npower and E. ON have become the latest suppliers to implement lower prices. From 31 March, E. ON will be slashing prices by 6% - or around £47 a year for a typical dual fuel customer. And npower will be cutting prices by 7% from 26 March, leading to an average reduction of £50 a year for its standard domestic gas customers.
These two suppliers join British Gas and Scottish and Southern Energy - both of which also announced price cuts earlier this year. British Gas has already lowered its standard gas prices by 7% (a saving of around £55 per year), while Scottish and Southern Energy will be reducing its standard dual fuel gas prices by 4% (a saving of around £30 a year) from 29 March.
However, given that the price at which suppliers buy energy has come down significantly, these price cuts are really not enough - particularly considering energy companies have boosted their profits by a fifth!
So while energy companies continue to revel in their money, here are six ways you can fight back against those greedy energy suppliers!
First and foremost – get switching! If you haven’t switched your energy supplier in a while, or even if you have, there’s a good chance there’s a cheaper tariff out there for you. An easy way to find out is to check our gas and electricity comparison tool which offers 16,000 tariff variations at any one time - so there really is plenty to choose from.
And as I explained in This energy tariff will save you £££, doing this could save you as much as £700! So what are you waiting for!
Pay the right way
If you want to get the best deal for your money, make sure you choose an online tariff as this is likely to work out cheaper than one that isn’t. Similarly, it’s a good idea to pay by direct debit, as again, this should help you to save the pennies.
And it’s also worth checking to see whether paying for dual fuel – in other words, using the same company for your gas and electricity – works out cheaper.
Check your bills
When you receive your bill, make sure it’s showing an actual reading rather than an estimated one. It’s far too easy to simply assume the reading is accurate, but in fact, you may be paying far too much. If the reading is estimated, take the time – it’ll only take a few minutes – to check your meter and submit the reading to your supplier.
Your supplier should then recalculate your bill and re-issue it.
It might sound obvious, but if you’ve got proper insulation in your home, you’ll keep more energy in and therefore save money on your bills.
In fact, according to the Energy Saving Trust, loft insulation could save you around £150 a year, while cavity wall insulation could save you around £115 a year.
If you’re worried about how much this will set you back initially, it’s worth finding out whether you are eligible for a government or local authority grant. If you’re over 70, you can have your home insulated for free, and if you’re over 60, there’s also a good chance of getting financial help.
However, even if you don’t fall into these age categories, you may still find you’re entitled to some form of grant, so it’s worth checking to see whether you are eligible.
What’s more, if you’re on certain benefits, you may also be entitled to a package of insulation and heating improvements up to the value of £3,500. The scheme is known as Warm Front in England, Warm Homes in Northern Ireland, the Energy Assistance Package in Scotland and Home Energy Efficiency Scheme in Wales. So make sure you check this out.
Claim what you’re entitled to
It’s also worth remembering that if you’re aged 60 or over, you may get a Winter Fuel Payment to help cover your heating costs.
Exactly how much you receive will depend on your personal situation. But generally, if you’re aged 60 to 79, your household will receive £250, and if you’re 80 or over, your household will receive £400. However, if you live in a care home and don’t get pension credit or income-based jobseeker’s allowance, you’ll receive £125 if you’re aged 60 to 79, and £200 if you’re over 80.
If you need to make a claim for a payment for winter 2009/10, you need to return your claim form on or before 30 March 2010.
What's more, if you’re struggling financially, all energy providers must offer social tariffs to help their most vulnerable customers. All social tariffs must be equal to the supplier’s cheapest deals. You can find out more about what’s on offer here – but if you are struggling to pay your bills, make sure you talk to your provider and see if you can be moved to a cheaper tariff.
Get a better boiler
Finally, if you have an old boiler, it’s worth thinking about switching to a more energy-efficient model. Under the government’s Boiler Scrappage Scheme, you can get £400 towards the cost of a new, more efficient boiler, providing your boiler is G rated.
Boilers are graded from A to G, according to their energy efficiency, with G being the worst. G rated boilers are typically more than 10 years old, have a pilot light permanently on, and comprise a single combustion chamber.
However, even if you don’t qualify for this, in the long run, investing in a new boiler is still likely to save you money. Figures from the Energy Saving Trust show that annual energy bill for the average detached home is £235 cheaper with an A-grade boiler.
If you’d like even more tips on how to save on your energy bills, make sure you read Eleven clever ways to cut your energy bills and adopt our goal: Lower your household bills. And why not have a wander over to Q&A and ask other lovemoney.com members for hints and tips about what worked best for them?