Comparing gas tariffs between suppliers does not cost anything but can save you money on your energy bills. The first step is getting to know the energy providers you will be choosing from as well as how they operate. Next, understanding how your gas bill is calculated is crucial to see what you are paying now. With that knowledge, you can compare gas prices and find the best and cheapest energy supplier for you.
How to compare gas prices and suppliers
While you can compare gas providers by filling out a few questions online to get a rough quote, it is much better to have a recent energy bill handy so you can get the best quote.
One way of getting an initial estimate is by knowing how much you pay for your gas supply, which most people can easily find out. However, because your energy use fluctuates throughout the year, this won’t yield the most accurate billing estimate.
To be able to get the most accurate estimates and understand if they are good value for money, you need to know what to look for in your bill so that you can compare like for like between what you are paying now and what you could be paying next.
Understanding your gas bill
Unit Rate - Explained
The amount of natural gas you use in your home is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) and the unit rate is the same idea as the price per gallon advertised by a petrol station when you are driving in your car or motorbike. Energy companies are like petrol stations for electricity and gas, you want to keep an eye on the cost of per unit. Without an unlimited plan, the more you use the more you pay. It may initially seem like useless jargon, but it’s pretty easy to understand once you know what it is.
Gas and electricity unit rates were not created equal with gas being significantly cheaper per unit than electricity, by as much as three quarters. However, you are going to use more gas than electricity because you need to burn through more units of gas than electricity for an equivalent result.
The unit rate is without a shadow of a doubt the main driver for rising energy costs. It is after all the biggest chunk of your bill since the net total energy usage changes from month to month. So it is worth checking your current unit rate as well as going the extra mile to find a cheaper one.
Standing Charge - Explained
This is the complete opposite of the unit rate because it is a daily fee to cover energy supply costs, such as maintaining the national gas grid and its metering systems.
Think of it as the 'Amazon Prime' of the energy market. Instead of having to pay random amounts to get gas delivered to your home, you pay one fee that is still applicable when you are away from home and not using energy.
The good news is that this part of the bill remains the same no matter how much gas you use. This means it has less of an impact on your bill amount.
Customer service is key
Energy companies big and small are little more than middlemen between the wholesale energy market and the household consumer (that’s you and me!). A reliable or high-quality energy supply has nothing to do with gas provider strangely enough.
Whether you are with EDF Energy or British Gas prices change but the gas coming into your home is exactly the same, whatever gas supplier you go with. Your local gas distributor is responsible for gas actually making it to your home. They will be the ones to fix things in case of an outage or gas leak.
This means that the quality of customer service is all about how accurately you are billed for your usage, how they handle their customers moving home and how quickly any billing errors are fixed. Bad customer service has a direct impact on your bank balance.
That is why if you switch energy company you shouldn’t stop your search once you find a competitive fixed rate or variable tariff because low unit rates will be of little help if the company keeps overcharging you with badly estimated bills.
How to switch gas suppliers smoothly
At Selectra, we make switching gas suppliers a hassle-free experience by pairing customers up with companies that have both competitive rates and solid customer service. This is how we help free of charge:
- We ask the bill payer or authorised person for some basic information such as postcode and relevant details from your latest utility bill, which we will help you find.
- We will explain how the fixed or variable tariff we have found for you works. We will also give advice about whether direct debit billing or prepayment may be a better option for you.
- We will arrange a switching date with the new supplier. In the interim, your new supplier will need a meter reading to figure out your initial bill. We will also take care of letting your current supplier know you are switching away so you don’t need to worry about that or deal with pushy salespeople trying to get you to stay and pay more.
- There will be a 14 day cooling off period in case you want to change your mind about switching.
- We work with companies who are rolling out smart meters free of charge.
- We strive to complete your switch within 21 days which includes the 14 day cooling off period.
Renewable Energy Suppliers v Big Six CompaniesGreen gas is becoming more common in tariffs from independent energy companies like Green Energy UK and Ovo Energy. On the other hand, the big six energy providers are dragging their feet which is baffling since renewable sources are extremely competitive in the deregulated wholesale energy market
Are new meters and pipes needed?
When you switch energy company you don’t need to worry about your gas pipes. If there is anything wrong with them, it would be your gas distributor who would deal with the issue. Green gas has the same properties as natural gas so no modifications are necessary to either your pipes, meters, boilers, heating system or appliances.
With your meter, the only change that could occur is if you are switching from a prepayment tariff to direct debit or vice versa, this is something your gas company will handle for you, in most cases for free. The only other meter change that could occur would be if your company upgrades you to a smart meter, which will always be free of charge.
Smart Meters - What is the big deal?A smart meter automatically sends off your gas consumption to your utility. This avoids the hassle of having to send in readings and the errors that can arise from that. By 2020, the UK government and the energy sector aim to have deployed smart meters to over 50 million households. With two versions of smart meters in play, SMETS1 and SMETS2, it is best to wait for the second iteration that makes switching between suppliers painless.
Our gas picks
This Birmingham-based company is one of the cheapest gas and electricity suppliers on the market, proudly providing 100% British green energy. They are also looking at how to improve energy efficiency for their residential customers with home energy saving initiatives involving solar panels and wall mounted batteries.
If you compare energy prices regularly you will see that Tonik Energy has very competitive unit rates. As you can see from the customer service rating comparison above, Tonik provides stellar customer service to a continuously growing number of customers with very low complaint rates.
Our verdict is that when it comes to fixed tariffs on direct debit, Tonik’s are the ones to beat on price as well as quality. As a bonus, they are a British green supplier.
If you have a prepayment or pay as you go meter, you might think that there are fewer options and that everything is more expensive. Overall, you aren’t wrong but there is still hope. Toto Energy can guide you towards salvation, at least when it comes to energy rates. They specialise in making both fixed and variable rate prepayment tariffs as affordable as possible.
Just like with Tonik Energy, they are a dual fuel energy provider and you may well find that grouping gas and electric together under one roof might lead to you saving more. Toto is very proactive about providing smart meters to their customers - yet another reason to choose them.
...or give us a call on 01704 325 069.
How much have gas prices changed?
We all need to keep warm and cook our food, which for many of us in the UK relies heavily on our gas connection. However, a large majority of the UK population are finding it harder and harder to pay for their gas bills. As gas prices rise many people are becoming scared to turn on their heating and other household necessities in fear of the dreaded bills at the end of the month. The question we’re looking at today, however, is just how much have our gas bills gone up over the years?
While the prices continue to rise, we continue to hear reasonings such as rises in wholesale gas prices and upgrading the distribution and transmission networks as the bid to convert our systems to include some renewable gases increases. However, as this happens, the majority of UK citizens are not seeing any change to their wages, meaning purchase power per capita is drastically dropping. The average gas bill in the UK can now represent anything between 3-10% of the average person’s wages.
2006-2016 gas prices
To compare the change in gas prices over time, we need to use the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This is a universal system that measures an average price across a wide variety of everyday items in a chosen geography such as petrol, food, clothing and gas. For this example we have selected 2010 as our base figure that will be represented as 100. We have also added in an extra column to display the amount of percentage change between each year.
Above we can see that there has been quite a large price increase between 2006-2016, a percentage change of 71%. Between the years 2007-2008 saw the largest change of 19.44%, putting the average gas bill up around £70 a year in the space of a year. That said, however, between 2014-2016 there has been a decrease of 11.28%, which is promising from a consumers perspective. Taking the above information we can see just how much more we are spending in real terms by estimating the average prices based on a current tariff today. This is shown in the graph below:
This graph uses a current EDF Energy tariff as its base and an average usage of 12,500 kWh per year. Here we can see that the average gas tariff in 2006 was almost £200 cheaper per year than what we are paying today.