It ought to be the thing that finally jolts you in to action – now that it’s official. In case you are of the 60% of households that hasn’t switched gas and electricity provider historically few years you are probably overpaying by around £234 a year – if not more.

This week the government’s official inquiry in to whether they are getting a fair deal from the large six energy companies published its preliminary findings, and found that all of people are hugely overpaying to light and heat their homes.

The Competition and Markets Authority says 95% of dual-fuel customers on a standard variable tariff – that’s the you are automatically switched to when the deal you signed up to ends, or in case you are an “existing” customer – could have saved £158-£234 a year in the event that they switched between 2012 and 2014.
 If you have stuck with the same supplier or suppliers over the past decade you have overspent by the equivalent of £1,000.

The CMA said customers who did not switch were more likely to be on low incomes; over 65; living in social housing & without qualifications. Customers on standard variable tariffs were also more likely to be disabled; a single parent & struggling financially – those who could most use the saving.

It also found that 40% of British Gas domestic gas customers have been with the company for over ten years – although it's long been of the most expensive providers. Between 40%-50% of all electricity customers are still with their original supplier.

But the reality is that switching takes only ten minutes & will save you a bundle. Unless you love throwing money away now’s the time to act – after you’ve read our guide on debunking the reasons not to.

1. I don’t like computers and don’t have a connection

 Yes, it’s true most switching services are internet-based – but several firms will advise you how to switch by phone. However, they do advise going online in the event you can as you will notice all tariffs even those which don’t pay commission to the net site and who need customers to contact them direct.

The Guardian has a commercial arrangement with, and offers readers a compare and switch service by phone and online.

It is at but you can also call free on 0800 634 3874. The lines are open 9am-8pm in the work of the week, and 9am-5pm on Saturday and Sunday. The Guardian service is free, but it earns a commission for any customers that switches – this is paid by the energy provider.

In the event you prefer, uSwitch offers a similar service on 0800 6888 244. Ask for the whole market, including the companies that the sites can’t switch you to.

In the event you only need an account you can manage by phone, tell the operator. The least expensive deals usually need you to manage it online. Note, they at Guardian Funds do not always recommend that you go with the least expensive “best-buy”, as you ought to also think about service issues. (See below)

2. I can’t give the info they need as I don’t understand my bill 

 Few people understand their gas/electricity bills, but fortunately you don’t need this knowledge to compare prices or switch supplier. For a correct estimate of your likely bill you will need your consumption figures. However, in the event you call or go online, you need to input your postcode, & approximate consumption. The sites will make assumptions depending on the size of property you live in. In the event you have higher-than-average bills, or your electricity bill is higher than your gas, tell the operator, or input that knowledge in to the net site.
The switching site/new supplier will be able to look up any other data they need on the system.

3. It is not really worth it and I won’t save much, anyway

 It is estimated that there's around 10m households on a standard tariff. This week the CMA said that 95% of those will save by switching – up to £240 for those who get both utilities from the same supplier. Customers in large houses who have never switched could basically save £450 a year – for about ten minutes’ work. That has to be worth it, doesn’t it?

4It will be a hassle and I could end up paying two bills

 Regular Money readers will know that switching issues do occur but, in truth, most switches go without a hitch & most of the issues are caused by the fact the customer had misread their meter & passes on the wrong information.

You can greatly reduce the likelihood of having a controversy by opting for of our best-buy suppliers & ensuring the readings are correct.

Double check with the last reading taken to make definite they tally. You definitely won’t finish up paying bills if the switch fails, but to guard against issues it’s worth cancelling elderly direct debits.

Most issues concern trying to get money back from an elderly supplier – another nice reason to switch – as it must be better having the balance in your account than theirs

5. I rent a property so I won’t be able to switch anyway

 The only that can switch supplier is the person whose name is on the gas or electricity bill. In the event you pay your landlord for gas & electricity, & the bills are in the landlord’s name, ask him/her to switch. In the event that they are in your name & you pay them you ought to be free to switch. You may need to check your lease as some might forbid switching, but these are rare.

6. I have a prepayment meter or Economy 7, so I can’t switch

 You can. Get off prepayment and on to a standard credit meter – prices are lower and there's more firms to pick from. Some providers will install a credit meter at no cost, providing you pass a credit check, but others will charge up to £60 per meter. Usually you need to agree to stick with the supplier for at least six months.

If you’re stuck with a prepayment meter you can still switch supplier as long as you have no over £500 of debt on the meter. Most large suppliers will let you join them with up to £500 of debt but some smaller ones may have a lower limit.

To switch, log on to the switching sites or call the numbers above. Plenty of customers ought to save £100 a year by switching. Ovo and e.on have the least pricey deals for prepayment customers. Those who use Economy 7 can also switch in the same way, although slightly fewer firms will compete for your business.

7. The service will be just as bad whether I switch or not

The gas & electricity are supplied in the exact same way by the grid, you are basically swapping the company that bills you & the prices it charges.

Customer support levels do vary enormously but, in truth, one time the switch is complete & you are paying by direct debit, & you submit readings as requested, you will have tiny to do together with your supplier.

When (hopefully) you switch again 12 months later (or at the finish of any fixed rate deal) your new supplier manages the modify. Recent rule changes mean it ought to be done in & half weeks. Read below for our assessment of which companies have the best (& worst) service standards.

Who should you switch to?

 Most people looking for a better deal will be offered a list of online tariffs - some from the gigantic providers & others from companies they may not have heard off. Where you are in the country will affect which is offering you the best deal because electricity prices still vary by region.

The table (left) shows what customers on standard tariffs are paying – & compares it to the best deals, in this case for a south London postcode.

 companies are in the least pricey spot – at around £910/£911 a year. They get plenty of complaints about First Utility to confidently recommend it. Sainsbury Energy is actually provided by British Gas – & is probably a better alternative. Additional Energy is a tiny firm that has grown rapid & is a bit on an unknown when it comes to service. 

But at £1 more pricey, the Funds choice is Ovo Energy. It's also been named as a Which? best-buy provider. Based on the complaints seen in to the Funds postbag, be cautious about Scottish Power & npower. Both have had a wicked 12 months after introducing a new billing process. Spark Energy this week also got in to trouble with Ofgem. Plenty of people are drawn to the “big six” because they think there will be somebody there to help, but readers have complained of long waits on the phone.

Other tiny suppliers – now accounting for 8% of the United Kingdom market – that get the thumbs up are Cooperative, Nice Energy & Ecotricity, although for cheap prices Ovo is the standout firm.

For the least pricey deals you tend to must manage your account online. In the event you need a paper bill & the ability to phone a human being, Sainsbury’s Energy is for you but keep in mind prices vary according to postcode

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