Compare gas prices and switch today!
With so many energy providers serving the UK, it can be difficult to know where to start when trying to compare gas prices and save on your bills. Here at Selectra, we've made things easy by comparing tariffs across the market, so you don’t have to.
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How to compare gas prices and suppliers
When it comes to cutting everyday costs, many don’t realise that they could get a better deal on their energy bills just by doing a little shopping around. Let’s take a look at how you can compare your current bills to what other providers have on offer to take advantage of some of the cheapest tariffs around.
Understanding your gas bill
To get the most accurate estimates yourself and to understand if they’re good value for money, you need to know what to look for on your bill so that you can compare gas prices you’re being charged now to what you could be paying if you switch suppliers.
Your gas bill can depend on a number of factors, such as how much energy you use and where in the country you live, along with the type of tariff you’re on. Let’s be honest though - the vast majority of us don’t really understand a lot of the jargon when we receive our monthly bills. So let’s first look at the difference between unit rates and standing charges before moving on to how to calculate and compare different tariffs.
The energy you use in your home is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). This is known as the unit rate. Each supplier will offer a different rate per kWh, according to the tariff conditions.
Gas and electricity unit rates are not created equal, with gas being significantly cheaper per unit than electricity, sometimes by as much as three quarters. However, you’ll usually get through more gas than electricity for an equivalent result.
Along with the unit rate, your gas bills will also include a standing charge, which is a daily fee to cover energy supply costs, such as maintaining the national gas grid and other related charges.
The good news is that this part of the bill remains the same no matter how much gas you use, so it has less of an impact on your final charge.
You’ll find detailed information on energy providers and the gas prices they offer in our energy guides.
Compare gas prices
When comparing gas prices, you’ll want to first have an idea of your average energy usage. We recommend using our energy consumption tool to get an estimate of how much gas you use so you can compare your current rates against those of other providers.
These are the latest average gas consumption rates, according to Ofgem:
|Fuel||Level of consumption||Consumption|
|Gas||Low (1-2 bedrooms/flat)||8,000 kWh|
|Medium (3-4 bedrooms)||12,000 kWh|
|High (5+ bedrooms)||17,000 kWh|
For our gas price comparison example, we’ll be basing our energy usage on a three-bedroom house in London with an average annual gas consumption of 12,000kWh. It’s worth keeping in mind that energy prices vary from one region to another, with London being among the most expensive in the country.
To calculate our annual bill, we need to consider:
- Unit rate
- Standing charge
In this example, we’ve used a fixed price gas tariff where the unit rate is 3.61p per kWh, while the standing charge is 25.7p per day. For our final total we have also included the standard 5% VAT applicable to energy costs.
|Unit rate||£0.0361 x 12,000 = £433.20|
|Standing charge||£0.257 x 365 = £93.805|
|Total gas used in this period||£527.00*|
|VAT of 5%||£26.35|
|Annual gas price||£553.35*|
*Final costs are rounded.
At a final sum of £553.35, chances are we’re paying far over the odds for our gas supply. Now you know how to work out your annual estimated bills, let’s take a look at what other providers have to offer and compare their cost against our current supplier.
As an example, let's take another tariff from an unnamed supplier with the following conditions:
- Unit rate: 2.615p per kWh
- Standing charge: 25.179p per day
Now let’s do the same calculations as above, but this time based on our new unit rate and standing charge.
|Unit rate||£0.02615 x 12,000 = £318.80|
|Standing charge||£0.25179 x 365 = £91.90335|
|Total gas used in this period||£410.70*|
|VAT of 5%||£20.535|
|Annual gas price||£431.23*|
*Final costs are rounded and do not include any potential exit fees from previous supplier.
As we can see, by switching gas suppliers in this instance you could save £122 a year. In other cases you may even be able to save much more, depending on which type of tariff you’re currently on.
Which is the cheapest gas supplier?
It’s almost impossible to give a definitive answer to this, as not everybody’s situation, location or needs are the same.
What types of gas tariffs are there?
When comparing gas prices, it’s good to have an idea of the type of tariff you’re looking for. Generally, these tariffs will fall into either the fixed, variable price or pre-paid category.
Fixed-rate gas tariffs
A fixed-price tariff charges the same standing charge and unit rate over the duration of your contract. What this means is that, although the wholesale price of gas can fluctuate, yours will stay the same, no matter what happens to market prices.
Something to keep in mind is that, although the standing charge and unit rates remain the same, this doesn’t mean your bills will be the same every month and will depend on how much energy you use.
Variable gas tariffs
Variable tariff costs, on the other hand, vary from month to month depending on how the gas market price fluctuates. This means that both the unit rate and standing charge can change over time, though your provider will notify you a month in advance before significantly increasing gas prices.
When your gas tariff comes to an end, you will often be automatically moved on to what is known as a standard variable tariff - regardless of if you were on a fixed or variable plan before. This is usually the most expensive option your energy provider will offer, so we recommend planning a switch before your contract ends, to avoid paying over the odds for your gas.
Prepaid gas tariffs
Prepayment tariffs allow the customer to pay in advance for the gas they use, either online or by using a meter key, card or token. Although generally you’ll find these more expensive, one advantage of a prepayment gas tariff is that it allows you to manage your energy use if you’re on a budget.
Smart Prepay MetersPrepay Smart Meters display close to real-time gas consumption information and will also allow you to top up your prepayment tariff using an online account on your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Dual fuel: gas and electricity tariffs
Dual fuel tariffs give you the benefit of combined gas and electricity from the same energy provider.
With a dual fuel tariff, you pay just one bill for both types of fuel, with one company covering all of your energy costs. The supplier will often offer a discount if you sign up for both fuels with them, so as well as being more convenient, it can also work out cheaper.
How to switch gas suppliers smoothly
Once you’ve been able to compare gas tariffs and select the one that suits you best, it’s time to switch your provider.
To switch, you can contact your chosen provider’s customer service or make the switch through a third-party service.
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 gas supplier and tariff.
- Your annual gas consumption and/or spend.
How long will the switch take?
Changing gas supplier should take no longer than 21 days, including a 14-day cooling-off period, in which you are free to cancel the switch if you change your mind.
Will I need to install new pipes or any other equipment?
Switching your gas supplier doesn’t require installing any new equipment, so you don’t need to worry about your gas pipes. You won’t even notice a change until your bills come in and you’re paying less.
A technician may be called in if you’re switching from a prepayment tariff to direct debit or vice versa, though this is something your new gas supplier will handle for you, in most cases for free. The only other meter change that could occur will be if your company upgrades you to a smart meter, which also won’t cost you a penny.
Smart Meters - What’s the big deal? A smart meter automatically sends your gas consumption to your energy provider. This avoids the hassle of having to send in meter readings yourself or rely on estimated bills from your supplier. As part of the government’s smart meter rollout, by 2024 an estimated 53 million homes are expected to have the devices installed.
Can I switch to a green gas provider?
'Green gas' is produced from biodegradable materials decomposing and releasing natural gas that can then be harvested and used as fuel.
As green gas is not yet widely available, very few suppliers can actually offer truly 100% renewable gas plans. Many ‘renewable gas’ tariffs will offer as little 10% green gas, with the production of the remaining 90% compensated through carbon offsets.
What other ways can I save money on my gas bills?
In many cases, switching suppliers will instantly bring your costs down, but there are other ways you can increase those savings.
1. Reduce heat loss
Roughly 25% of household heat is lost through poor wall insulation, single-glazed windows and gaps around doors. One easy way to prevent this is by installing loft and wall insulation, double-glazing, thicker curtains and using draft excluders. The initial cost may be off putting at first, but these measures can pay for themselves over time when you see the savings roll in.
2. Make your home a smart one
With a smart meter, you can view close to real-time energy consumption in the home, allowing you to see which devices are drawing the most energy. Most suppliers will now cover the costs of smart meter installation when you switch, so you’ll be on your way to savings in the smart home.
You can complement this with other smart devices, such as energy-efficient smart light bulbs and a smart thermostat. To take your smart home to the next level, you could even install a smart dashboard such as the Google Nest Hub to control all your smart devices either by voice control or the tap of a screen.
3. Government and energy company schemes
Finally, there are many government-backed schemes out there to tackle fuel poverty. Programs such as the Winter Fuel Payment and Pension Credit give financial assistance to those who qualify, while many energy suppliers also have their own schemes in place to help vulnerable customers.