The experts are in agreement: now is the moment to grab a new fixed-price gas and electricity tariff in time for the big central heating switch-on, in order to protect yourself against the chunky price hikes that appear to be heading our way.
Uncertainty in the Middle East, concerns over French nuclear supplies, gas restrictions from Russia – and, dare we mention it, Brexit – all arguably add up to a situation where those who are free to switch gas and electricity supplier should probably do so now.
On Monday, Craig Lowrey, a senior energy watcher at Cornwall Insight, warned consumers that prices looked destined to rise.
“An increase in oil prices is likely to lead to a corresponding rise in gas and electricity prices, which will be reflected in higher tariffs for customers going forward, while existing fixed-price, fixed-duration tariffs may also be withdrawn,” he said.
“The prospect of an oil-led commodity price spike adds to the chance of market rises feeding into higher bills for customers at some stage.”
His forecast was immediately borne out, as EDF pulled a top deal later that day, meaning now is the time to act.
An average household will spend about £1,170 next year if they are currently on a capped standard gas and electricity tariff with one of the big six suppliers.
However, tariffs that fix your gas and electricity prices for the next 12 months are currently available at £879 a year – a £291-a-year saving. Bigger households could save even more by switching. So where should you be taking your energy business? After Eversmart Energy this month became the latest in a long line of suppliers to cease trading, we now discount firms that are new entrants or have poor customer service records.
Avro Energy appears to have the standout fixed price tariff: its Simple and SuperSave deal costs a bit more than the cheapest tariff, at £891 a year, but insulates buyers against future price rises.
The company has been around for a while and is rated as mid-table by Which? for customer service. Crucially, prices are fixed for 12 months and there are no exit fees, meaning you can switch out at any time in the unlikely event that prices fall again. Grab this soon, as it may not be around for ever.
If you want a 100% green energy provider that has the added benefit of being a name, British Gas’s Energy Plus Protection Green Oct 2020 tariff is the one to go for. At £983 a year, it is a bit pricier, but offers 100% renewable electricity and 100% carbon-offset gas.
Crucially, prices are fixed until the end of October 2020. Note, buyers receive free central heating insurance for one year, which will automatically renew if you do not cancel it at the end of the period.
MoneySavingExpert has a great green deal with Pure Planet (£890 a year after cashback) but prices are pegged to wholesale costs, with all the risks that entails.
Mark Todd, who runs the switching website Energyhelpline.com, said: “I recommend a fixed-price deal so you are guaranteed not to get hit by price rises. A perk of autumn switching is that most energy accounts tend to be in credit at this time of year, as usage is lowest in the summer.
“So, as well as saving a few hundred pounds from switching, you are likely to get a big refund from your existing supplier – often £200-£300. Energy is the easiest big bill to switch and can be done in minutes.”
• To find the right deal for your household, do a whole of market comparison at Energyhelpline.com. Ideally, input your previous year’s usage figures to produce accurate results. You can opt for green or fixed deals and follow the link to switch supplier.