Don’t let energy bills burn a hole in your pocket

Beware standard tariffs

The symbolic image of the high cost of natural gas for heating homes in the cold season. Blue piggy bank with pile of money near the gas meter. Selective focus, close-up.

After an unseasonably warm September, temperatures plummeted this week, prompting many of us to consider turning on the heating for the first time in months.

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Keeping your home warm during the winter months can be expensive, especially now that many of us are working from home, so it’s vital to make sure you’re not paying more than you need to for your gas and electricity.

Tom Lyon, director of energy at Energy Helpline, says: “With many offices expected to be partially or completely closed over autumn and winter, millions face a worrying hike in bills from working at home at the time of year when we use most energy. In addition, consumers paying by Direct Debit should normally now be in credit ahead of winter, but are finding themselves already in debt from spending more time at home since March.”

A couple of energy providers have announced price hikes in recent weeks, further compounding problems for those struggling to pay energy bills, so it makes sense to secure a competitive deal while you can. For example, smaller suppliers Igloo and Bulb have both confirmed they are increasing their energy prices. Bulb’s increase, which comes into effect for existing customers on 18 October, will bump up electricity bills by an average of £51 a year for a typical energy user. Igloo’s price rise is expected to add around £97 to customers average annual bills and comes into force on 15 October.

Sarah Broomfield, energy expert at Uswitch.com said; “With everyone set to be using much more energy as we head into the winter months, both from colder temperatures and working from home, it’s more important than ever to check that you are on the best deal possible.”

Beware standard tariffs

Standard variable tariffs are typically the most expensive energy tariffs. These are the tariffs you usually roll onto automatically once any special deal you signed up for ends.

According to research by comparison site Uswitch.com, there are currently 93 fixed energy deals available that are cheaper for households than their supplier’s standard variable tariff. Of these, 91 deals are cheaper than the current energy price cap of £1,126 and 73 will be lower than the new £1,042 energy price cap which will come into effect on 1 October.

If you’re looking for an environmentally-friendly energy tariff, where your electricity comes from 100% renewable sources, comparethemarket.com says that the four of the best-priced renewable tariffs, supplied by E.ON, London Power, Robin Hood Energy and Powershop, cost on average £832 a year for the typical usage household. This is £294 cheaper than the current £1,126 energy price cap.

Peter Earl, head of energy at comparethemarket.com said: ““Long gone are the days when ‘going green’ cost the earth. Renewable energy tariffs are in many cases cheaper than regular, non-renewable tariffs.

“It is important to remember that if you do want to go green you should check the finer details of the energy tariff on offer. Not all renewable tariffs offer 100% renewable electricity – and very few are able to do the same thing for gas, as this part of the market is still in its infancy in terms of being renewable.”

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