How to beat the winter energy price rises

Updated: 

Four of the so-called 'Big Six' energy companies - SSE, British Gas, npower and ScottishPower - have now announced winter price rises.

And the other two - EDF and E.On - are guaranteed to follow suit. It's just a question of when, not if.

So if you're a customer that's about to be impacted or just a household holding your breath ahead of your provider announcing price rises, now's the time to ditch and switch.

But which deal should you go for?

See if you can save on your gas and electricity bills by switching supplier

Fixed energy deals
With a fixed energy deal you are shielded from any price hikes for a set amount of time. But that peace of mind usually comes at a premium and you are taking a gamble that prices won't stay the same or even fall.

However, at the moment fixed energy deals are really quite affordable and are offering a real alternative to the traditionally cheaper variable tariffs.

To show you how cheap you can fix for we have outlined the five cheapest fixed energy tariffs available now.

Supplier

Tariff

Average Cost*

Saving vs non switcher's typical bill*

Fixed until

First Utility

iSave Fixed v9 April 2015

£1,170

£250

30th April 2015

ScottishPower

Online Fixed Price Energy March 2015

£1,181

£239

31st March 2015

EDF

Blue +Price Promise March 2015

£1,183

£237

31st March 2015

npower

Price Fix April 2015

£1,202

£218

30th April 2015

ScottishPower

Online Fixed Price Energy December 2014

£1,204

£216

31st December 2014



** Savings against an average bill of £1,420 as determined by Ofgem

The cheapest fixed energy tariff comes from First Utility with its iSave Fixed v9 April 2015. It is also the longest lasting out of the cheapest available right now apart from npower's Price Fix April 2015.

For a fixed tariff lasting two winters it's a pretty good deal and only £15 more expensive than the best variable energy deal around right now. However, First Utility's tariff comes with cancellation charges of £30 per fuel so it will cost you to ditch the tariff.

That said prices don't look set to fall anytime soon; in fact First Utility has said energy bills could soon outpace our mortgage repayments.

So your best bet might be to lock into a deal for even longer.

In the past the longest fixed energy deals only lasted around 18 months to two years. Now though you can get deals lasting nearly four years up until 2017!

If you want to take a gamble and fix for longer here are the longest lasting energy deals available right now.

Tariff

Average cost*

Savings vs. typical bill**

Notes

Cancellation charges

EDF Energy Blue +Price Freeeeze March 2017

£1,340

£80

Fixed until 31st March 2017

None

Npower Price Protector March 2017

£1,341

£79

Fixed until 31st March 2017

None

Scottish Power Help Beat Breast Cancer Fixed Price January 2017

£1,350

£70

Fixed until 31st December 2016

£25 per fuel before the end of fix

First Utility iSave Fixed v10 January 2016

£1,274

£146

Fixed until 31st January 2016

£30 per fuel until end of fix

British Gas Price Promise July 2015

£1,391

£29

Fixed until 31st July 2015

£50 per fuel until end of fix

**Savings against an average bill of £1,420 as determined by Ofgem

EDF Energy and nPower have deals which will shield you from price rises for four winters.

However, these longer deals do command a premium and are about £170 more than the cheapest fixed rate deal from First Utility mentioned above.

That said neither have any cancellation charges so you won't lose out if prices fall later down the line.

Going for the cheapest deal
If all you're interested in is getting the cheapest energy deal here the top five going right now.

Tariff

Average cost*

Savings vs. typical bill**

Type

Notes

Cancellation charges

First Utility iSave Dual Fuel v16

£1,155

£265

Variable

Online billing. Paper bill available for extra £12 pa.

Standing charges and unit rates frozen until March 2014.

None

First Utility iSave Fixed v9 April 2015

£1,170

£250

Fixed

Fixed until 30th April 2015

£30 per fuel until end of fix

Sainsbury's Energy Online October 2014

£1,172

£248

Discounted variable

Guaranteed to be below Sainsbury's Clear & Simple tariff unit rates until 31st October 2014

£30 per fuel until 31 October 2014

Scottish Power Online Fixed Price Energy March 2015

£1,181

£239

Fixed

Fixed until 31st March 2015

£25 per fuel until end of fix

Npower Online Price Fix November 2014

£1,182

£238

Fixed

Online management only. Fixed until 30th November 2014.

None

** Savings against an average bill of £1,420 as determined by Ofgem

The top deal overall is a variable tariff from First Utility called the iSave Dual Fuel v16. It could save you a whopping £265 based on a typical dual fuel bill.

Variable deals, like fixed deals, involve a bit of a gamble. You usually pay less but are betting on prices staying the same or falling in order to feel the benefit. If prices rise you will feel the impact straight away.

However, First Utility has promised to fix its standing charges and unit rates until March 2014, so you won't get any nasty surprises this winter at least.

Ditch the standard and switch
Chances are you are probably paying more than you need to for energy at the moment.

Recent figures have revealed that around 70% of households in the UK are on standard tariffs.
These are typically poor value and are estimated to cost UK households £2 billion more than necessary.

The price rises announced by SSE last week only impact those on standard tariffs - 4.4 million gas and 2.9 million electricity customers. Those on fixed deals have been protected from the move.

If you are on a standard tariff with the other major energy companies (British Gas - Clear and Simple, E.ON - Energy Plan, Scottish Power - Standard, npower - Standard No Standing Charge, EDF - Standard Variable) the price rises in the coming weeks could hit your household hard.

To avoid this fate, take action before it is too late and switch.

Switching your gas and electricity tariff can seem like a daunting task but it's pretty easy and pain free.

You can compare energy deals using our free and easy-to-use comparison centre.

*All calculations in the tables are for an average usage dual fuel household paying by monthly direct debit. Average usage as defined by Ofgem is 16,500 kWh pa of gas and 3,300 kWh pa of electricity. Tables correct as 22/10/2013.

This article has been updated since it was first published to reflect price changes

See if you can save on your gas and electricity bills by switching supplier