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Comparing prices for gas or electricity

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

When choosing a gas or electricity supplier, it's important to think about how much you will pay for your energy as well as the customer service your supplier will offer. There are lots of tools available to help you compare the prices offered by different suppliers.

This page has handy hints and tips for comparing prices offered by different gas and electricity suppliers. 

Work out how much energy you use

Before you can work out if you can get a better deal for your gas and electricity, you need to know how much energy you're consuming each year.

You'll be given your consumption information on your bill or annual summary. If it isn't there you can request it from your supplier and they will tell you whether this is actual or estimated.

Work out how much you pay for energy

To work out how much you're paying for your energy, multiply the number of units of gas or electricity you use, by the cost of a unit. The cost for a unit is shown on your bill or ask your supplier.

You also need to find out whether you pay a standing charge and include this in the amount you spend on gas and electricity. Standing charges are fixed charges that cover the costs of things such as sending out bills, providing and reading the meter and maintenance charges. Not all companies have standing charges. The ones that don’t usually charge a bit more for usage to cover these costs.

Decide what kind of tariff or contract you want

Types of tariffs and contracts that might be available include:

  • internet tariffs – if you sign up and manage your account entirely over the internet, the supplier might give you a discount
  • direct debit tariffs – most energy suppliers offer a discount if you pay your bills by direct debit
  • fixed price tariffs – guarantee you will be protected from price rises, although might be more expensive to start with and will tie you in for a certain time
  • capped price tariffs – guarantee your costs per unit won’t rise above a certain level
  • fixed discount tariffs - guarantee your costs will be below the standard rate
  • pre-payment tariffs – if you have a keypad meter
  • reward and cashback schemes – some suppliers offer an additional incentive to switch to them or stay with them.
  • green tariffs – some suppliers have tariffs that can help the environment.

More about tariffs

Compare the prices

Price comparison tools offer an easy way to compare the prices from lots of suppliers at once. When you know how much energy you use, how much you currently pay and what kind of tariff you want, you can compare the prices from different suppliers. Suppliers can tell you their best rates or you can use an internet price comparison website.

For more advice on how to assess your current deal to see if there are better alternatives, visit the Consumer Council website at www.consumercouncil.org.uk. The site takes you through everything you need to know to take control of your energy bills and work out if you could benefit from a change.

Next steps

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