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Percy's Top Tip:
"The standardisation of how costs will be displayed in the future will certainly make the whole task of comparisons considerably easier."
Over the last decade the world of energy suppliers has changed so much as to be virtually unrecognisable from the days when our electricity and gas was state-owned and controlled.
Along the way, the consumer has had to keep apace with a multitude of different tariffs, also called price plans, such as standard tariff, fixed price, capped plans, Economy 7, Green plan, Online and Social (the latter being for 'vulnerable' consumers such as OAPs and those on benefits).
All of these tariffs offer a particular method for what you receive and and how you pay for it.
These days with energy prices rising frequently and sharply, fixed tariffs are popular, but such arrangements are usually made as short term offers (to attract new customers) and once a company's fixed tariff customer quota has been filled the offer closes.
However, the days of a market-place with such a wide variance of tariffs and plans are set to change once again.
The energy regulating authority, Ofgem, has announced a complete overhaul of the current energy industry rules that will sweep away many of the tariffs available and introduce a scaled down system of plans that will be more simply priced and ensure suppliers, themselves, are more accountable as to what they are offering.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the outcome will mean vastly cheaper energy for all. So it's still down to the consumer to be vigilant over energy price hikes.
However, the standardisation of how costs will be displayed will certainly make the whole task of comparisons considerably easier.
Over the long-term, it is expected that prices will fall thanks to the standardisation of energy plans and pricing. This will come about because such transparency to the consumer will give a smart shove to the competitiveness of each supplier's market positioning.
At last, we might expect consumer loyalty to pay dividends and energy suppliers will want to keep their customers rather than only offer the best prices to newcomers.
Loyalty can cost you
Alas, the only constant factor in the energy supply industry is the regular rise in prices to consumers, regardless it seems as to what's actually going on in the wholesale market of gas and electricity producers.
Energy poverty is a term we're hearing more of and consumers have to engage with the practice of constant monitoring of the ways they use their energy supply and how much their suppliers are asking them to pay for it.
Many households have found out already that loyalty to an energy supplier is a fool's game and switching to another supplier isn't necessarily a once-in-life-time's task.
These days, and with sites like ours, the information you need to avoid costly lock-in tariffs and devastating penalty charges if you terminate a contract ahead of its term, is readily to hand. Your task is to set aside the time to read up about the why, when and with whom you switch and how to do so without falling into a quagmire of unnecessary charges.
In your search for the best deal:
Be open to the suggestion of new billing methods as these can offer considerable savings.
Online account management, where you report your own meter readings and make payments, can save you money. Discounts, too, can be obtained by direct debit arrangements.
As well as comparing gas and electricity suppliers against each other, consider what savings you'd make by taking your business for both sources of energy to the one supplier.
Research the different tariffs. If you haven't switched supplier before or for a while you won't be aware of the latest tariff offerings which are available to attract new customers.
Arm yourself with the right information to provide suppliers to obtain a quote. You'll need your postcode as energy prices vary around the country, the latest bills you've paid to confirm your energy usage, the way in which you'd choose to pay your bills, and the type of energy supply deal you are looking for.
Consumers have a guaranteed 'cooling off' period of (around) seven days after making the arrangement to switch suppliers (the process can take anywhere between 28 to 45 days).
Be sure to use your cooling off period by questioning yourself on whether you've found the right new supplier and whether you feel comfortable with the tariff and conditions offered to you.
Save money with our top tips
Here are payingtoomuch.com's 10 top tips on ways you can save money on your annual energy bills and do your bit for the environment.
Invest in energy-saving appliances. Look for the Energy Saving Recommended logo on electrical white goods so you can save money and run appliances producing fewer carbon emissions.
Research renewable energy resources for installation in your home. Consider the suitability of adapting to solar, wind hydro power sources. There are a number of government grants available to reduce the cost of installation.
Insulate the loft and research savings that could be made by cavity-filled walls.
Lag your hot water tank and insulate pipes.
Get into the habit of turning off all appliances that are left on standby or charge unnecessarily.
Use energy saving light bulbs - you'd be surprised at the savings made from the switch.
Fix dripping hot water taps, programme washing machine cycles to a lower temperature, don't overfill the kettle unnecessarily, put lids on boiling saucepans, turn off lights when you leave a room, defrost the freezer more frequently.
Lower the temperature of the hot water and heating thermostats - just one degree lower can reduce the annual energy used by as much as 6%.
Compare and contrast the differences between available tariffs - look for those those labelled economy to see if your household could adapt and benefit.
Calculate the savings to be made from using the same supplier for both gas and electricity supply (called dual fuel) and add up the savings from arranging a direct debit payment method.
Compare and save using our energy comparison service.