Compare Energy Prices: How to Find a New Supplier

scales to compare energy prices

Find out how to compare energy prices so that you can choose the best tariff for your home and start saving on your energy bills today!


Why should I compare energy prices?

When was the last time you switched your energy tariff? If it wasn’t within the past year, it could be quite likely that you're on your provider’s standard variable tariff – which also often tends to be the most expensive plan.

The best way to save money on your gas and electricity bills is to compare energy prices every 12 to 18 months and switch to a cheaper tariff.

When looking for the best deal, there’s no one cheap energy plan for all. Pricing can significantly vary depending on your location and usage. It’s important to compare energy prices using your own details in order to find the best tariff for your home.

What you’ll need to compare

To compare energy prices, we recommend you first gather a few details.

1) Annual consumption

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You’re going to need to know your annual gas and electricity consumption. This is expressed in kilowatt-hours (kWh).

You can find this information on your utility bills. According to UK energy regulator Ofgem, the average annual consumption is 2,900 kWh of electricity and 12,000 kWh of gas annually. Though it's worth pointing out that if you have an Economy 7 meter, your annual consumption works out higher at 4,200kWh.

Not sure how much energy your household consumes? You can use our consumption calculator to find out your gas and electricity usage.

2) Current energy tariff

Using your current tariff rates to compare energy prices, you’ll be able to see exactly how much you could save by switching to a better energy deal.

It is important to understand that energy tariffs include two different types of costs: unit rates and standing charges. The unit rate is the price you pay for the energy you use. It is expressed in pence per kWh. The standing charge is the price you pay per day just to be connected to your energy supply.

You will have different unit rates and standing charges for the gas supply and the electric supply. Electricity rates are almost always higher than gas rates.

It’s okay if you don’t know what energy tariff you’re on – many people don’t know. You should be able to find your tariff details on your latest utility bill.

Are you with one of the Big Six energy suppliers? Check out our tariff guides for more information about your current rates.

Above are the traditional Big Six, the energy companies that are known to have been the biggest suppliers in the UK. However, more recently, there have been takeovers and mergers amongst suppliers which has shaken up the suppliers you might call the Big Six.

For example, NPower customers have now been transferred to E.ON, and SSE has been aquired by Ovo Energy.

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How do I compare energy prices?

To compare energy prices among different suppliers, you need to understand how to calculate your projected annual spend.

First, multiply the electricity unit rate by your annual energy consumption rate in kWh. Then multiply the electricity standing charge by 365 (a year). Next, multiply the gas unit rate by your annual gas usage and the gas standing charge by 365.

Add these four rates together to find the projected energy spend per year.

Calculating your energy bill: an example Let’s say your household consumes 2,900 kWh of electricity and 12,000 kWh of gas per year. How much would you spend on the following tariff? The electricity unit rate is 30p per kWh and the standing charge is 26p per day. The gas unit rate is 7p per kWh and the standing charge is 28p per day.

Answer: (0.30 x 2,900 kWh) + (0.26 x 365) + (0.07 x 12,000 kWh) + (0.28 x 365) = £1,907.10 per year

Once you understand how to calculate the projected spend for your energy bills, you can compare energy prices in your area to find out which offers the best deal for your home.

Which is the best energy deal?

Determining which is the best energy deal for everyone is really not so simple since it depends on your location and your household’s energy needs.

With constantly fluctuating variable tariffs, as well as the introduction of new tariffs, the best plan today may not have the cheapest price next month. Likewise, you could also miss out on the best energy deal if you delay in choosing a tariff.

Another consideration is the Energy Price Cap which is currently set at £1,277 per year. Becuase the wholesale gas prices have skyrocketed in recent months, the standard variable tariff may work out cheaper for some customers. However, if the Price Cap increases again in Spring 2022, which is expected to be by about 30%, you may find that the best fixed-rate tariff today would have saved you money in the long run.

How much can I save?

For more insight regarding gas and electricity prices, check out the following Selectra guides:

It’s not just about price

When comparing energy tariffs, the cheapest one may not actually be the best choice. It’s also important to choose a supplier that provides high-quality customer service and uses renewable energy as it's primary energy mix.

You can find out what to look for in our guide to green energy suppliers.

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In the table below, you’ll find the top energy suppliers in terms of customer service, according to the latest research from Citizens Advice. The organisation compares UK energy suppliers on a quarterly basis across the following six categories:

  • Average call centre wait time
  • Number of complaints per 10,000 customers
  • Customers who had an accurate bill in the past year
  • Bills and statements sent on time
  • Switches completed within 21 days
  • Customer guarantees
Citizen's Advice Customer Service Ranking: Top 10
Rank Energy Supplier Rating
1 M&S Energy 3.95
2 Octopus Energy 3.95
3 EDF Energy 3.85
4 Co-Operative Energy 3.75
5 Outfox The Market 3.75
6 E-Energy 3.56
7 Affect Energy 3.45
8 So Energy 3.45
9 Utility Warehouse 3.15
10 Shell Energy 3.15

Information from Citizens Advice Last Updated March 2022

Prepayment can be expensive

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When you compare energy prices, you’ll find that plans for prepayment customers can be among the most expensive. Also, you will find it very difficult to find a fixed-rate deal with a prepayment meter.

We know it may seem cheaper to put a tenner on your gas or electric meter whenever it’s running low rather than pay a larger sum once a month. However, the rates that make up pay-as-you-go energy plans can actually turn out to be more expensive in the long run.

Over the course of the year, prepayment customers can typically end up spending more for the same amount of energy in comparison to customers who pay via a monthly direct debit.

Can I switch if my energy supplier has gone bust?

Yes! You can switch your energy supplier if your supplier has gone bust. Whatsmore, you will not be subject to any exit fees if you switch energy suppliers from a bust energy supplier. We also recommend that you compare energy prices as soon as you know your supplier has gone bust. This is because when you are transferred to a new supplier, you will likely be placed on a deemed tariff which is one of the most expensive tariffs.

You could also consider sticking with your new Ofgem appointed supplier, but this can take several months to have your account switched over and you may have difficulty in contacting the new supplier until your account has been fully transferred.

How to switch

Once you’ve been able to compare energy prices and select the one that suits you best, it’s time to switch your provider.

To switch suppliers, you can contact your chosen provider’s customer service or make the switch through a third-party service, like Selectra.

We recommend you have the following details ready when you get in touch.

  • The account holder name and address.
  • Your meter type.
  • The name of your current energy supplier and tariff.
  • Your annual energy consumption and/or spend.

It should take about 15 to 20 minutes to complete the switch over the phone, and you will always have a cooling off period of 14 days, in case you change your mind or want to make any changes before you're switched.

Find answers for all your energy queries

We are constantly staying on top of the UK energy industry and how it affects British households. We make all our research available to you for free so that you can make informed decisions when it comes to your energy supply.

If you have any more questions about comparing energy prices, our dedicated team of energy advisors are waiting for your call. You can call us, or request a free call back.

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