Energy prices are up and down like yo-yos. Following double-digit hikes in both gas and electricity prices by the big six providers at the start of winter, now most are set to cut electricity bills by about five per cent.
But there are other ways to reduce your fuel bills and looking further afield for your energy is one of them. Other smaller providers give you the same gas or electricity but often for significantly less.
At the top of the best-buy tables right now is First Utility, whose iSave Dual Fuel V9 package will cost the average household £1,030 a year. That compares with £1179 for the same energy from the most expensive London provider, Southern Electric, according to comparison site MoneySupermarket.
Anyone who needs to budget for the coming year might want to consider a fixed-price deal. These packages allow homeowners to plan ahead for their exact financial outlay for gas and electricity consumption over a year or more.
The cheapest fix comes from OVO Energy, whose New Energy Fixed package would cost the average homeowner £1059, a saving of more than £313 from the most expensive provider. The price is fixed until May 2013. Although OVO’s fixed-price deal would cost £40 more than the cheapest “normal” tariff across a year, some may feel that’s worthwhile since they will not be affected if providers raise prices again this year.
In the current financial environment, those small savings and extra security can help enormously.
But, as Paul Steedman, Friends of the Earth’s Energy Campaigner, puts it: “Customers won’t be fooled by energy companies [offering] last-minute winter price reductions - they know that even with today’s cuts their prices have soared within the last year. Tinkering in the margins of massive price hikes won’t fix our broken energy system - the big six are making billions in profits from their addiction to fossil fuels, whose yo-yoing prices make it hard for families to budget.”