Moving Home? Sort out your electricity and gas!

Switched On Rural Year in Review – 2017
02/01/2018
Billing FAQs – Energy Suppliers
05/01/2018

You’ll no doubt have 101 things to do now you’ve just moved into your new home. And I’m guessing that sorting out your electricity and gas isn’t at the top of the list, but here’s why it should be.

Like most tasks and chorus in life, the longer we leave it without action, the bigger the problem/task becomes. Sorting out your home electricity and gas is no different. So before you start picking out TV’s for the ‘man cave’ or picking colours in the kitchen, sort out the electricity and gas before it starts to cost you money.

Luckily, it’s a rather simple procedure with the help of an energy consultant like us, but it’s not rocket science if you want to go at it alone. There are a few things you need to know, however.

Deemed Rates
Most suppliers use the phrase ‘deemed rates’ or ‘deemed contract’ nowadays, it simply means, this is the tariff plan you’ve inherited automatically from the supplier of the property. It’s always higher than a fixed plan, so it’s important you check the prices and compare.

You will be able to switch at anytime on this tariff, so think of it as the ‘Lymbo’ or default plan until to decide where you want to go. I will say that this tariff is variable, so if the supplier you’re with decides to increase their prices, your tariff will increase as well.

Smart Meters
You’ve no doubt seen the adverts on TV or Youtube, describing smart meters and how they work. They are handy devices which track and monitor how much electricity and gas you’re using, real-time. Like most devices of this nature, it only saves you energy and money if you actually review the results and change your habits. Unfortunately, it won’t save you energy if you’re still leaving heaters on and windows open, but it is recommended.

Currently most suppliers are in the ‘roll-out’ stage. You’ll receive a letter from your current supplier with instructions if you want to register your interest for one. They will then let you know the earliest date they are offering meters in your area.

Emergencies and Safety
An important note which most of the time, isn’t necessary to know straightaway (‘touch wood’) but could be in the future.

If you suspect or are aware of a gas leak you must immediately call the Emergency Gas Number – 0800 111 999. This number will be on your bills and most letters you receive. We’d also recommend letting the landlord or letting agent know, just so they are aware of the situation. Do this after you’ve spoken to Emergency Gas Services on the number above.

Independent Advice
It’s dead easy to get independent advice so that you ‘know your rights’ as an energy consumer, and it’s free! This is great if you want to get a better deal, find out how to make a complaint, get advice on your supply or just to ask for help on any matter. To find out more I recommend you visit the Citizens Advice Website – www.citizensadvice.org.uk/energy or you can call them on 0345 404 0506.

Comparing Suppliers First Time Around
Ok this is where you’ll have hundreds of different options and tariffs to choose from for your electricity and gas, which is great but can be really annoying and confusing for most. So let me give you my top 5 tips about comparing Home Energy Suppliers.

Tips #1: Fixed is always better than variable
The energy market is generally on the rise most of the time. Mainly due to rising ‘green’ charges and third party events, it means that if you’re on a variable or Deemed contract, you are at risk of the supplier increasing your prices. And if you’re thinking it’s worth the risk, think again, in 2017 as I write this article, the biggest rise was 19%! For the average household that’s £200+ straightaway.

Tip #2: What you’re comparing
Every supplier will quote you a daily standing charge and a unit rate. Sometimes your meter will have two unit rates on the electricity, one for the day-time and one for the night-time. This is called Economy 7. It’s important to compare both charges as these are the figures which are going to make the difference between the best tariff and the worst.

Tip #3: Know your estimated usage
Knowing how much you use is difficult when you’ve just moved into a property, but when you compare quotes there is always an option if you don’t know. Instead of asking for your specific usage, it will ask general questions to help estimate, like how many bedrooms does the property have and how many people are living there. Remember the number you give them, will affect the amount of your monthly Direct Debit, so I’d underestimate to start with and just take monthly readings.

Tip #4: VAT
This is a quick tip which I’ve seen ‘sting’ a number of people. When comparing make sure you’re comparing like-for-like. So scroll down to the small print to find out if the prices include or exclude VAT. This can make all the difference.

Tip #5: Service first, then price
When people compare electricity and gas prices, the first thing comes to mind is getting the cheapest deal no matter what. This is often completely incorrect and assuming that every supplier you compare is going to be great at customer service is crazy. You’ll quickly notice when comparing the bigger suppliers you’ve heard aren’t at the top. The price competition is nearly always the much newer suppliers you’ve never heard of. We’d always recommend you looking at the Ogfem website before comparing so you know who is the top rated supplier on the market.

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Rhys Boven
Rhys Boven
Rhys is Managing Director of Switched On Rural and Switched On Energy. His professional work involves the management of energy and other services for both commercial and rural clients. Rhys's role in running Switched On, takes him across the Country from his Yorkshire home.

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