Comparing and Switching Energy and Utility Suppliers
As more and more homeowners look for ways to cut their monthly household bills, switching energy and utility suppliers has become an easy target to save money. Many families have suffered from the global rise in oil and gas affecting domestic utility bills over the past three years. However, in 2009 the oil price has dramatically fallen compared to the last three or four years. This has happened as a result of the decrease in global demand for energy as the global recession bites into business and industry. For home owners who are quite comfortable with switching insurance companies every year to get the best deal, switching utility suppliers can be an even simpler administrative process. The deregulation of the energy and utility sector as created comparison websites which make it easier to compare providers.
As well as switching to a cheaper utility provider, there are also some basic things home owners can do to reduce their energy costs. Firstly, by opting to pay by a monthly direct debit, (as opposed to a quarterly bill), a 5% to a 10% saving can be achieved. Secondly, more and more utility companies are asking consumers to read their own meters and then phone in or complete online meter readings. By doing a reading every month (as opposed to a slightly overinflated estimates from the provider, short-term cash flow can be kept in the homeowner’s back pocket as opposed to the utility company’s bank account. Thirdly, by paying online using a utility providers online payment process, discounts the savings are currently being offered, as this saves utility companies administrative overheads. Lastly, people in financial hardship are often forced into accepting prepaid meters by the utility provider. By using on-line comparison websites it is possible to view which other utility companies can offer a better deal using prepaid meters.
Home owners are becoming more active than less apathetic in seeking out better deals for Internet, broadband, telephone, satellite TV, food and home insurance. This mentality is also now being applied to gas and electric providers. Switching utility companies doesn’t mean new wires or circuits or pipes – it simply means the bill is received from a different provider. Many people have complained of inefficient and sloppy administration during the transfer process. For people who switch between utility companies frequently the savings diminish accordingly. For first time switches, the savings can be as much as 20% on an annual utility bill. The discounts and deals offered by suppliers are sometimes branded and packaged up on a dual fuel deal. Be careful of dual fuel deals that cannot easily be compared with rival single offers.
It can be difficult to know exactly when to switch suppliers. Supplies prices vary, going up and down throughout the year depending on external market supply forces and consumer demand. Use the comparison websites to track the changes in the prices between rival utility companies before making any rash decisions. Price changes tend to occur over a long period of time and it is sensible to look at the long-term trends to establish whether they trend is likely to move upwards or downwards in the future. Price comparison services will help you track and compare prices using the number of kilowatt hours on your bill to try and provide a like-for-like comparison. These type of services include energy helpline, money supermarket, energylinkx and uswitch. For the more ethical shoppers, there are green energy tariffs available which ensure that energy is produced using renewable sources.