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Thursday 16 August 2018

How do I reduce my energy bills?

The process of switching to a cheaper deal can take as little as 10 minutes.

Energy companies
Energy companies

By Josie Clarke, Press Association Consumer Affairs Correspondent

Switching to a new energy company or even to a new tariff with the existing supplier is the single most effective way to get a cheaper deal.

Here is a guide to reducing your energy bill.

Q. How do I start the switching process?

A. The process of switching supplier can take as little as 10 minutes. You only need your postcode, a recent energy bill or to be able to answer questions regarding the size of the house, its heating system and how many people live there.

You can switch your gas and electricity energy supplier by phone or online. It is recommended that you use an Ofgem-accredited energy comparison website, which means it gives a free and comprehensive overview of the market that meets the regulator’s standards.

Q. How do I decide if it’s worth moving supplier or if I should stay where I am?

A. At this point it is best to speak to your current supplier and ask them for the cheapest tariff you can sign up to, if you are not already on it. This is a helpful benchmark for comparing prices with other suppliers.

It is then worth searching around comparison websites, which are now legally required to show all tariffs available in the market unless customers actively choose to see a smaller number.

Q. I’ve decided to switch. What next?

A. It is then a simple matter of contacting your chosen new supplier. You should have your bank details to hand if you decide to switch and want to pay by direct debit.

Your new supplier will organise the switch. You will need to submit meter readings to them when requested, and settle outstanding bills with your old company.

Q. How long will it all take?

A. Your new supplier will contact you after the two-week cooling-off period with follow-up information about your service switchover date.
The entire process takes 17 days (three days plus a two-week cooling-off period).

Q. Can I switch suppliers again?

A. You can switch suppliers every 28 days, but it is important to check for cancellation charges. It is recommended that bill-payers check to make sure they remain on the best deal once or twice a year.

Q. I’m already on the cheapest deal I can find. How else can I lower my bills?

A. Turning down the thermostat, replacing lightbulbs with energy-saving LEDs, and installing draught-proofing and home insulation can all result in significant savings. A simple handheld energy monitor gadget estimates in real time how much energy you’re using, so you can see where to cut back.

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