Paying bills is a funny old game. We’re more than happy to relinquish a tenner a month for 4k streaming of Tiger King on Netflix, but water, gas or electric bills are met with derision. Yet, without electricity, how are you going to keep up with Joe Exotic’s latest escapades?
According to energy regulator Ofgem, the average household pays around £1,254 per year on heating and power. So, unless your bills are included in the rent, you’ll need to pay a bit extra to keep the lights on.
Fortunately, you don’t need to feel the strain of paying for utility bills if you switch providers. Switching energy bills can save you up to £400 a year, which could come in handy for a snazzy new piece of furniture.
But how do you switch, and which bills can you save on? Read on, and find out how you can save on your utility bills by switching.
Different types of bills
Before you get into search mode and look for the best deals available, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you can and cannot save with utility switching services. Most suppliers allow you to switch, but not all of them offer the luxury.
Utilities/bills you can switch
- Broadband services
- TV services, such as Sky and Virgin
- Insurance policies, such as contents insurance
Utilities/bills you can’t switch
- Council tax
- TV Licence (though having one is optional)
- Water supply
Council tax must be paid to the local council where you live, so there’s no way to get a cheaper deal unless you move to another borough. It’s also impossible to switch water suppliers because each company supplies a geographical location.
The BBC provides TV licences. The price is non-negotiable, but you can choose not to have a licence as long as you don’t watch programmes on your TV, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
How does switching work?
Online comparison websites collect a few data points from you, such as an address and house type, and then compare all the services that match your search requirements.
You may need to input more details, such as how much energy you previously used in your home, if you’re changing energy suppliers. Any required information related to your energy can be found on a previous bill.
The comparison site will then return a list of suppliers based on your search requirements, placing the cheapest option at the top. From there, you can often go through the process of arranging a new supplier by following the link on the results page.
Is it free to use a comparison site?
Paying a fee to use a website where you save money would defeat the entire purpose somewhat. Fortunately, comparison websites are free for you to use. That means you can save money on your new utilities while enjoying a free service when using a comparison website.
Most make their money from advertising and click-throughs for things like referral commissions. Another way they make money is with sponsored listings, which is where companies pay to have products featured on the page. These will always be marked as “sponsored” so that they're not confused with organic results.
How do I switch utilities?
Changing utility suppliers is a straightforward process. Many online search engines show you which suppliers provide the best deals, whether it’s gas, electricity, broadband or TV services.
The most popular online comparison websites:
Even if you decide against using one of the major players, it’s easy enough to find comparison sites online. A handy search in Google will return plenty of options. Then it’s just a case choosing the option that’s best for you.
Are there switching restrictions?
You can switch your services any time you like, as long as you’re not tied into a contract with one of the suppliers. Many energy tariffs, broadband options and TV packages require contracts which can last between 12 and 24 months. If you try and leave the contract before the initial time is up, you may be required to pay a fee. Check with your current supplier if you're unsure about the current contract.
Go forth and switch
Being a renter isn’t as costly as it used to be, especially since the tenant fee ban was introduced and zero-deposit schemes increased. But it’s still nice to save a pretty penny where possible, and switching utilities can reduce the total annual income of your household.