Save a fortune on energy bills without switching supplier

Brightly lit light bulb, against plain red background.

Around 20 million households are paying hundreds more than they need to for their energy, new data from the regulator has found.

That's because they're sitting on their supplier's standard variable tariff, which is on average £200 pricier than the best deals on the market.

What is a standard tariff?

Energy is classed as an essential service.

This means that, even if you don't choose a tariff, your supplier must provide you with energy.

As a result, each provider has a standard variable tariff (SVT) that they put customers on when they don't choose a specific energy plan.

So, if you have never switched – or were on a fixed-rate deal that has expired – you'll likely be on the SVT.

As we mentioned earlier, SVTs are considerably more expensive than the deals you have to actively choose.

Data from energy regulator Ofgem found Npower customers on its SVT are paying a staggering £261 a year more than those on its most competitive deal.

See if you can switch supplier and save a fortune - it's easy and it's free

Too many people overpaying for no reason

Given that they offer such a rotten deal, you'd think most customers would avoid SVTs like the plague.

Sadly that's not the case.

A staggering 94% of Utility Warehouse customers are on the SVT, along with 91% of SSE customers and 74% at British Gas.


No. customers on SVT

Proportion of customer base on SVT

Average annual cost of SVT

Difference between SVT and suppliers cheapest tariff

Difference between SVT and the average of the cheapest tariffs from the 10 cheapest suppliers

British Gas






Co-operative Energy






EDF Energy












Extra Energy






First Utility


















Scottish Power












Utility Warehouse






The bare minimum

Ofgem's data shows that households could save more than £140 on average just by moving from the SVT to a better deal with the same supplier – no switching necessary.

Of course, you could make an even bigger saving – more than £200 on average – by taking a few minutes to switch to the cheapest deal in your area, but at the very least you need to ensure you're on your current supplier's best offering.

"This is important data that every household should see," says Ben Wilson, energy expert at price comparison site Gocompare.

"We need to highlight the fact that two thirds of households continue to pay far too much for their gas and electric, simply because they are on their provider's standard tariff."

"Standard tariffs play an important role in the domestic energy market, but they shouldn't be the default dumping ground for 20 million households.

"The message is simple – check your bill. If it says 'standard tariff', you need to switch and stop wasting money."

Finding the best deal is really straightforward.

Just grab a recent energy bill and visit a comparison website – you could try ours if you like – tap in your usage details and it will bring up the best deals.

See if you can switch supplier and save a fortune - it's easy and it's free

See also: Spending on essentials sees biggest rise in 20 months

See also: New energy company league tables will compare best deals

See also: Electricity bills expected to rise with uptake of 4K television sets

Most outrageous bill mistakes
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Carol Sandford, 72, called 118 118 from her mobile phone unaware of the charges involved. Calls to the number cost £1.88 per call and there is also a £2.57 per minute charge from landlines. TalkTalk raises this to £5.68 for the first minute and £3.28 per minute after that. TalkTalk told Carol the charge £81.12 charge was correct but luckily 118 118 were kinder, offering to repay the charge in full. Read the full story here.
One Londoner was more than a little confused when his debit card was declined while he was trying to buy just six bottles of American craft beers. But he quickly realised that instead of the £22.30 he owed, he had been charged £223,000! It's thought he punched in the PIN number before the machine was ready and it added the numbers to the total. Luckily the 28-year-old saw the funny side and laughed the incident off. Read more on the story here.

Early Lewis from Detroit was amazed to find his water bill was almost 100 times as much as he was expecting. The bill claimed that Lewis had used 3,740 gallons of water in just one hour. Thankfully common sense prevailed and the Water and Sewage Department admitted it was a mistake and subsequently charged Lewis the $36 he should have been charged initially. Read more on this story here

George MacIntosh, 73, was charged a staggering £200 for premium-rate gambling texts he didn't intend to sign up for. Unfortunately this wasn't a scam but a legal service from a company called Zamano. It seems the retired vicar had accidentally signed up after responding to an initial text from the company. Read the full story here.
Philip Groves was amazed to receive a £1,411 bill from Vodafone last year for his 10-year-old daughter Trinity's phone. It turns out Trinity had watched 28 hours of instructional loom band videos on YouTube, assuming her phone was using wifi. But the wifi had cut out, leaving her phone using the data allowance at it's highest rate. Vodafone refused to cancel the bill and threatened legal action. Read more here
Daniel Pontin was in for quite a shock after opening a gas bill charging him £31,000 for a year's worth of gas in a one-bedroom home. Pontin claimed his meter was broken when he moved in and was initially charged £35 a month for six months before he stopped receiving bills. When the huge £31,000 estimated bill arrived Npower told Pontin to ignore it while they investigated. Read the full story here

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