What to consider when switching energy supplier… other than price

Switching energy suppliers is one of the easiest ways to save money and could save you around £300 per year if you’re on a standard variable tariff. But just switching to the cheapest tariff is not always the best idea.

Many suppliers will offer tariffs at similar prices, possibly with only a few pounds difference, so it’s always useful to look at other features to help you find the supplier that’s right for you. Below we’ve suggested a few things to consider when you’re picking a new supplier.

  1. Length of fixed rate tariffs

Most people switch to fixed rate tariffs to save on their energy. These tariffs ensure the cost of your energy is fixed for an agreed time-period and they set the price for each unit of energy you use. Typically, these tariffs last for one year, but some suppliers also offer three-year fixed tariffs. Shorter tariffs often offer better value, but longer tariffs could offer more protection if energy prices rise during the period.

Once the fixed period is over, for most suppliers you’ll be moved onto the supplier’s standard variable tariff which is usually it’s most expensive. It’s important to remember to switch to a new tariff when your current tariff expires, or you could end up paying considerably more than you need to for your energy. You could always set a reminder on your phone for 11 months’ time to help you remember to check the Youtility app for the best tariff.

It is also worth considering other suppliers such as Bulb which only offer one tariff for all customers. This may be a good option if you’re worried about remembering to switch to get a better deal.

  1. Going green

Last month, Britain went a record of 18 consecutive days without using coal as part of its energy consumption as green energy solutions continue to scale. If you want your energy to come from renewable sources, you can switch to a green tariff. You won’t have to pay too much more for the privilege as these are often some of the cheaper tariffs on the market due to the falling costs of renewable energy generation.

The key is that some green tariffs are a lot more environmentally friendly than others. The amount of renewable energy they generate can differ between 10% and 100%. If you want to support the environment, you should check how much of each kind of renewable energy a supplier generates and if they contribute to environmental schemes on your behalf.

Good Energy, Green Energy UK and Ecotricity offer the most environmentally friendly tariffs according to the Energy Saving Trust.

  1. Electric vehicle tariffs

During the lockdown, Tesla’s Model 3 has been the bestselling car in the UK as the popularity of electric cars continues to grow. Indeed, all motorway service stations are set to have super-fast electric chargers by 2023 under a new government programme. If you do own or are considering buying an electric vehicle, you will need to charge it at home as well. This could significantly increase your energy bills if you’re on the wrong tariff.

In response, some suppliers such as EDF Energy and Octopus Energy have started offering new specialist tariffs that offer off peak overnight rates for when households are most likely to be charging EVs. If you are considering joining the EV revolution, then this should definitely be a factor in your decision making.

  1. Smart meters

Smart meters are designed to provide you with an in-home screen which shows you exactly how much you’re spending on energy in real-time. The government want smart meters to be installed in 85% of homes by 2024. Smart meter supporters state they will allow more accurate billing and help you to be more aware of your usage and therefore reduce your energy bills.

To support the government’s plan, Ofgem has the power to fine suppliers who don’t install enough smart meters. This means some suppliers only offer their cheapest tariffs to homes which already have a smart meter or are willing to install one. Given these developments, you are likely to benefit disproportionately from being an early adopter.

  1. Customer service

Finally, make sure you check the quality of a supplier’s customer service before switching. If you ever need help, information, or to make a complaint, it’s important to pick a supplier with excellent customer service. This is why we’ve included independent reviews from Citizen Advice within our app.

Currently EDF Energy has the best overall customer service and Igloo Energy received the fewest complaints, according to Citizen’s Advice. M&S Energy, SSE and So Energy also had excellent scores.