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Saving money and increasing income

Can I switch utility suppliers?

Utility bills such as gas and electric are some of the most important bills you need to deal with. A good way of keeping them low is to make regular checks that you’re getting the best deal from your energy supplier.

Switching utilities is part and parcel of good budgeting. There are many price comparison websites that can tell you where to find the best deal for your gas and electricity. Before you make the switch however, it’s always a good idea to do some research in case your current supplier can help you save money. We recommend using a switching service approved by Ofgem.

Is utility switching right for you?

People save money every year by shopping around for the best energy prices but there are a few things you should think about before you switch.

Are you on a fixed term contract?

Most suppliers charge an exit fee if you leave a fixed term contract early. If you have to pay an exit fee make sure it’s less than the amount you’re going to save when you switch. A reputable price comparison website can tell you if you're better off leaving your current supplier and paying the exit fee. You can find information on accredited price comparison sites on the Ofgem website.

Are you in debt with your current supplier?

The supplier you're with at the moment can decline the switch if you owe them money. Should this happen, you might not be accepted by a new supplier. Some energy companies also carry out a credit check before accepting a new customer.

Do you have a prepaid meter?

If you've got a pre-payment meter you can still switch energy suppliers and transfer debts of up to £500. You’ll have to carry on using the prepayment meter with your new supplier at least until any arrears are paid off.

Can you get a better deal from your current supplier?

If you stay with your current provider, there are other ways you could save money. Most companies offer a discount for paying by direct debit. Or if you have gas and electricity from the same supplier, you could get a dual-fuel discount. Contact your supplier to see if that’s available to you.

Other ways to save money on electric and gas bills

Apply for a Warm Home Discount

You may be eligible for a rebate on your utility bills. One way to find out is to visit gov.uk and apply for the Warm Home Discount Scheme. By applying, you could get money off your electricity bill during the winter.

While you don't receive the discount as a payment, the amount can be deducted from your electricity bill, usually between September and March.

You may qualify for the discount if all of the following apply (2015 criteria):

  • your electricity supplier was enrolled in the scheme
  • your name (or your partner’s) was listed on the bill
  • you received the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (even if you get Savings Credit as well)

If you don't meet this criteria you may be able to apply directly to your electricity supplier for help if:

  • you’re on a low income
  • you get certain means-tested benefits

Check with your supplier to see if you’re eligible.

Apply for free home insulation

British Gas offer free loft and wall cavity insulation to households across the UK. This is being done as part of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme set out by the government.

Insulating your home can save you over £100 every year, as it prevents heat escaping through the loft and wall cavities. If less heat is escaping, you may find that you don't need to use your heating appliances as much, which could save more money. Read our free home insulation article on our MoneyAware blog for more information.

I don't know how to manage my budget! What can I do? 

If you’re struggling to manage your budget we offer free debt advice and a personal action plan to help you get your finances back on track.