British Gas tariffs have a reputation for being on the expensive side and news reports constantly tell us that energy prices are on the rise - but are the rumours really true? Are British gas customers getting ripped off? Let’s take a look at what it costs to get your energy from British Gas.
British Gas Tariffs and Prices
British Gas releases different tariffs every few weeks, just like most energy suppliers do, which makes it difficult to keep track of prices. In an effort to simplify energy tariffs for customers, the energy regulator Ofgem introduced new rules in 2014 so that energy providers can only offer a maximum of four main tariffs to new customers. However, it remains a challenge even for us at Selectra to decipher the real price of energy from British Gas.
We’ve done the hard work, pored over the small print and put together a guide to British Gas tariffs that will help you, the customer, make up your mind about whether to switch to the energy giant.
British Gas Tariffs for existing customers
Existing British Gas customers seem to get a raw deal. Maybe at first it seems like you’ve got a great tariff but once the end date has passed, you automatically start paying the standard variable rate. Even if you contact British Gas to negotiate a better deal, there’s a good chance new customers are still getting a cheaper tariff than the one you’re on.
|Unit rate (per kWh)||4.071p||18.321p|
|Standing charge (per day)||26.520p||23.523p|
|Estimated annual cost||£585.56||£645.02|
|Total estimated dual fuel cost per year||£1239.58|
Domestic tariffs for new customers
New customers have four options when they join British Gas. Two of these are straightforward, fixed rate tariffs, one is for Economy 7 meters and the fourth is for prepayment meters. Let’s look at them all in detail.
HomeEnergy Secure Green Oct 2021
This fixed price tariff is currently open to new customers and offers fixed prices on gas and electricity until 31st October 2021. On this tariff, 100% of the electricity you use will be offset through British Gas purchasing electricity from renewable sources to put back into the National Grid. British Gas offsets some of the gas you use on your gas tariff by paying for Certified Emissions Reduction Certificates (CERs).
Buying CERs on your behalf means that somewhere in the world the carbon that your household produces will be offset by companies who work to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
|Unit rate (per kWh)||4.038p||18.192p|
|Standing charge (per day)||25.424p||22.426p|
|Estimated annual cost||£577.51||£646.01|
|Total estimated dual fuel cost per year||£1223.52|
If you’re on this tariff and you want to switch to a different one before the end date of 31st October 2021, you will be charged a cancellation fee of £80 if you have both gas and electricity supplied under this tariff. If you have just one of these - gas OR electricity - you will be required to pay £40.
HomeEnergy Fix Green July 2020
Like the HomeEnergy Secure Green Oct 2021 tariff, British Gas offsets 1005 of the electricity and some of the gas used as part of this tariff.
|Unit rate (per kWh)||4.038p||18.192p|
|Standing charge (per day)||220137p||19.139p|
|Estimated annual cost||£572.50||£640.99|
|Total estimated dual fuel cost per year||£1213.49|
HomeEnergy Fix Green July 2020 has an exit fee of £30 per fuel so if you want to cancel your contract before 31st July 2020, and you have both gas and electricity supplied under this tariff, you will be charged £60 to end your deal.
Green Drive Nov 2020 - ideal for owners of electric vehicles
British Gas says that the idea behind this tariff is to help reduce energy bills for the owners of electric vehicles who need to charge their cars overnight. This makes sense, since the unit price of electricity on this tariff is lower at night (12.30am to 7.30am) than it is during the day (7.31am to 12.29am). Gas prices, however, are the same no matter what time of day it is.
Those seven hours of off-peak electricity are where the name ‘Economy 7’ comes from. Since the late 1970s UK energy providers have offered economy 7 meters where electricity is charged a lower rate during the night. Nowadays, you won’t find the term ‘Economy 7’ anywhere on the current British Gas tariff list, but that’s essentially what the Green Drive Nov 2020 is.
Don’t get caught out when the clocks change! When the clocks go forward in spring your off-peak electricity hours also change. From the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October the cheaper rate is from 1.30am to 8.30.
|Unit rate (per kWh)||4.490p||Peak rate 18.25p|
|Off-peak rate 12.730p|
|Standing charge (per day)||26.010p||26.010p|
|Estimated annual cost||£632.95||Not applicable - depends on peak/off-peak use|
To be eligible for the Green Drive Nov 2020 tariff you must have a smart meter. If you don’t already have one, you can ask British Gas to install one for you. It can take up to eight weeks from requesting a smart meter to having it up and running.
The British Gas Pay As You Go tariff is available to new customers who have prepayment meters. The price for gas and electricity on Safeguard PAYG is set at the same rate as the energy price cap. That is, 17p per kilowatt hour for electricity and 4p per kilowatt hour for gas.
|Unit rate (per kWh)||4.102p||16.490p|
|Standing charge (per day)||28.902p||31.740p|
|Estimated annual cost||£598.05||£627.53|
|Total estimated dual fuel cost per year||£1225.58|
Safeguard PAYG prices will change when the UK Government changes the energy price cap.
British Gas Business tariffs
There are some important differences between domestic and business energy. Firstly, businesses do not have the right to the 14 day cooling-off period that domestic customers have during the switch process, which allows them to change their minds and cancel their energy plan up to two weeks after agreeing to a new contract.
Business energy deals also tend to be for longer periods of time than domestic energy plans. Anywhere between one and five years is standard for British Gas business energy. If you move into business premises where British Gas is the existing supplier, you will automatically be put on what’s called the ‘deemed rate’ (the default rate), unless you contact British Gas to request one of their energy plans. The deemed rate will often be slighter higher than the other tariffs.
Small businesses have a choice of several options with British Gas. There are fixed price plans where the unit rate doesn’t change for one, two or three years, depending on the plan you sign up to.
There is also a rolling 30 day tariff, which is essentially a variable price plan where the unit rate and standing charge can go up or down. British Gas gives you 30 days’ notice of a price change. Similarly, if you want to switch you can do so if you give 30 days’ notice.
Unit rates depend on your annual consumption and, in the case of electricity, they also depend on whether you use peak or off-peak energy. Here is an indication of what you can expect to pay.
|Unit rate (per kWh)||6.51p - 12.09p||20.75p - 34.4p|
|Standing charge (per day)||52.91p - 1101.07p||63.33p - 108.06p|
For large businesses and corporate organisations there are fixed and variable tariffs available with British Gas. However, due to the complexities involved in supplying energy to corporate customers, it is best to contact British Gas directly to get an energy quote for a large business.
British Gas Landlord tariffs
For landlords who rent out commercial properties, British Gas has something to offer for those periods when you don’t have tenants. It’s a six month plan, with the option to renew if your property is still empty at the end of six months. Unlike other energy tariffs, the rate is the same no matter where the property is located.
|Unit rate (per kWh)||5.86p||19.5p|
|Standing charge (per day)||0||0|
Are British Gas prices cheap?
British Gas is certainly not the cheapest on the UK energy market and, judging from the customer reviews published on sites such as Trustpilot, there are plenty of people who are left dissatisfied with paying British Gas prices and putting up with below average customer service.
Compare British Gas prices
British Gas does not come out particularly well in a comparison of prices with its competitors. The other Big Six energy suppliers sometimes beat British Gas on price, and sometimes turn out to be more expensive. In general, though, smaller energy providers tend to be considerably cheaper.
While the British Gas standard variable tariff will cost an average household somewhere around £1250 per year, for gas and electricity together, other providers, such as Tonik Energy and Bulb, have tariffs that come in under £1000 over the course of a year. It’s not difficult to find providers with both cheaper prices and better customer service!
British Gas Price increases
We often hear of British Gas price increases but we seldom hear of any reductions! The price rises are usually defended by Centrica, the company that owns British Gas, with the argument that increases in the wholesale price of energy are beyond their control.
Price increases in the news
In April 2018, British Gas came in for some vocal criticism from the Energy Minister Claire Perry, who expressed that the UK Government was “disappointed” by the “unjustified” increase of 5.5% in the standard variable tariff.
In October 2018 the British Gas standard variable tariff increased again, this time by 3.8%. Only six months later, up went the price again, this time by 10.5%. Yes, that’s right - on 1st April 2019 British Gas customers started paying even more for their standard variable tariff.
British Gas is not alone though. Four of the Big Six energy providers decided to raise prices at more or less the same time. This was because of the increase to Ofgem’s energy price cap. However, there are still plenty of deals available with other energy providers, that work out much cheaper than the price cap.
British Gas tariffs and prices FAQ
Here are some questions people often ask about British Gas tariffs - and some answers!
Which is the cheapest tariff with British Gas?
At the moment, the cheapest British Gas tariff available to new customers is HomeEnergy Fix Green July 2020.
How much is British Gas per kWh?
Energy price per kWh depends on which tariff you’re currently on [link back up to domestic tariffs]. In general, gas costs around 4p per kWh and electricity between 20p and 30p per kWh.
Is British Gas putting their prices up?
Over the last few years, there has been a general upward trend in British Gas prices, in line with the increase in wholesale energy prices. Another factor in the explanation as to why tariffs go up is the Ofgem energy price cap. This directly influences how much energy providers can charge on their standard variable tariffs (the ‘default’ tariff that customers are on after a fixed rate deal comes to an end).
Is British Gas business cheaper than domestic?
British Gas business tariffs generally work out to be more expensive than domestic tariffs for a couple of reasons. Firstly, businesses pay a higher rate of VAT on their energy bills; 20% as opposed to the 5% that consumers pay. Additionally, businesses have an obligation to pay the climate change levy, which is something that domestic customers don’t have to worry about.
British Gas tariffs - the Selectra verdict
It is baffling to many professionals and industry experts as to why British Gas continues to retain so much of the market share, but for now, they continue to do so, with around 12 million domestic customers. Those customers tend to want to stay with a name that they know, but there are plenty of great deals to be had for those who take the plunge and switch to a smaller provider. Reviews of British Gas customer service would suggest price isn’t the only reason to switch.
Comparing British Gas prices to the Ofgem energy price cap and to other energy providers, we can’t give British Gas more than one star out of a possible five for value for money.
British Gas rating ★