This is the time of year when we start thinking about energy bills.
Cold weather makes it tempting to ramp up the heating, and the dark afternoons mean the lights are on earlier. All of which results in hefty bills further down the line.
To make matters worse this winter, the global cost of energy is increasing, largely thanks to hikes in wholesale oil prices. We've already seen competitive energy deals being withdrawn from the market, and there are fears this trend will continue.
Some of the big energy providers have announced they're not going to increase the cost of their standard tariffs this winter – but these tariffs are relatively expensive, which means households with these deals are already paying more than they need to.
But here's some good news. MoneySuperMarket has teamed up with Flow Energy to offer a tariff where the rate per unit of gas and electricity used is fixed until 31 March 2018.
The 2 Two Winters Deal is priced at £877* a year for a household with average consumption. This is £186 cheaper than the £1063** average cost of a standard variable rate tariff from one of the Big Six energy providers.
This makes the Flow energy deal the cheapest** long-term fixed tariff in the market, and the cheapest switching deal currently available from MoneySuperMarket.
With this sort of fixed rate deal, the amount you pay for each unit of gas and electricity you use is fixed. That means you're shielded from price rises during the period of the fix – and with the Flow deal, that means until 31 March, 2018.
How do fixed energy deals work?
But remember, it's the rate per unit that's fixed, not the actual size of your bill. As with any energy tariff, the more gas and electricity you use, the higher your bills will be.
Go with the FlowThis deal is limited to the first 10,000 customers that switch, and only to customers who are new to Flow Energy. It's a 'dual fuel' tariff, which means you must take both gas and electricity.
You'll pay by monthly direct debit and, if you decide to leave the deal early, you'll have to pay a £20 per fuel exit penalty.
Don't be afraid to switchMany people are understandably wary of switching their energy supplier – according to the energy market regulator, Ofgem, a whopping 10 million of us have never switched.
People are put off switching by worries about the length of time it takes to switch, the amount of hassle involved and need to have work done inside or outside your property.
In reality, switching is extremely quick and easy. You can run a quote on a price comparison website in around 10 minutes.
The actual switch will take around 21 days, and the new provider will handle all of the admin and paperwork. You'll just need to supply the meter readings to your old and new suppliers, and settle any outstanding balance with your old supplier.
And there will be no need for any physical work on your property whatsoever – you'll get the same gas and electricity through the same pipes and wires.
Switching is simple
* Based on Ofgem's average consumption rate
**Tariffs correct as of 5 Dec 2016. Based on Ofgem calculations for medium usage. All tariffs assume monthly direct debit. Varies by region.
Please note: Rates and figures were correct at time of writing