To make a meaningful price comparison, you need to collect information about your current supplier, payment method, annual usage and bills for the last 12 months, and then use the ‘ready reckoner’ comparison tables which provide a broad overview. Several services exist allowing you to compare the price.
The potential savings available to you depend on where you live (as prices vary in different parts of the country), whether you want to switch gas or electricity supplier or both, the payment method and whether you have time of use or ‘off peak’ tariffs. Not all suppliers operate in all parts of the country. For details of payment methods, see Chapter 4. There are many websites that compare gas and electricity prices. It is not possible to compare all available tariffs on comparison websites, as some tariffs are unavailable online, such as dynamic teleswitched (the radio teleswitch which affects customers with meters and tariffs dependent on this, is due to be closed by end of March 2024, albeit this is likely to be extended due to the low rate of smart meter installations) or various time of use tariffs. Websites now have to say that they cannot compare all tariffs,1Ofgem, Decision on implementing the CMA’s recommendation to remove the Whole of Market requirement, July 2018 as they should be transparent about the market coverage they offer to energy customers. It is important to remember that there are more websites out there. Check that any website you use has the Ofgem Confidence Code logo. The Confidence Code sets out the minimum requirements that a provider of an internet domestic gas and electricity price comparison service (service provider) must meet in order to be, and remain, accredited by Ofgem. The prices quoted for energy deals on the accredited websites, and the information given about the offers, are shown in a fair and unbiased way. For an up-to-date list, check Ofgem’s website.2
The Confidence Code requires the service provider to be independent of any gas or electricity supplier. It must be a company which runs its own website and uses its own tariff database and calculating system, not merely hosting those of another service provider, and must try to include price comparisons for all available domestic tariffs. The service provider may take commission from energy suppliers, but this must not influence the information given.
Are there other issues to consider before switching supplier?
Although the price offered by a new supplier may suit you, the other terms and conditions might not and you should check them carefully (see here for other terms and conditions to consider).
Before switching supplier, consider the performance and complaint handling record of the new company. Energy companies must publish regular, detailed complaints data in a common format so that companies can be compared.
You may be entitled to a Warm Home Discount (see here). Before switching, check that your new supplier offers the discount, and you are eligible under its criteria.