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Choosing the right energy tariff

This advice applies to Scotland

Before you switch energy provider or tariff, it’s a good idea to look at all the different types of tariffs available. Each gives you different options, so it’s important to choose one that best suits your needs

Because many energy companies are struggling, you won't find as many tariffs as normal on price comparison tools. If you don’t find a better tariff than the one you’re on it’s probably better to wait until deals are available again.

If your energy supplier goes bust

Don’t switch tariff or supplier until your account is moved to the new supplier. You might find it harder to get any money you’re owed if you switch before this happens.

Read our advice about what to do if your energy supplier goes bust.

If you want the cheapest option

You should choose a 'fixed’ tariff if you don’t mind signing a contract for a set period - usually 12 months.

The cost of your energy won’t go up for the length of your contract, so your bills only change if you use more or less energy.

It’s a good idea to choose a fixed tariff if you find it difficult to budget - your bills will generally be the same each month if you pay by Direct Debit.

You might see some cheaper ‘standard’ or ‘variable’ tariffs, but these tariffs can go up as well as down if the price of energy changes.

Check for any 'exit fees' when you compare fixed tariffs. You'll need to pay the exit fee if you switch supplier or tariff early.

If you plan to move soon

You can get a standard or variable tariff if you don’t want to be tied into a contract. This means you can switch to a different tariff or supplier to get a better deal at any point without being charged.

The price of these tariffs can go up or down. If you think you might struggle to pay your bills or you find it hard to budget, it’s better to sign up to a ‘fixed’ tariff if you can.

If you use most of your energy at night

You can get a ‘multi rate’ or ‘economy’ tariff - this means you’ll pay less for energy you use overnight, and more during the day.

This is useful if you work nights, or have electric storage heaters, as these ‘charge up’ at night.

These tariffs are usually only worth it if you deliberately use a lot of energy at night.

If you have a prepayment meter

You’ll usually be restricted to ‘prepayment tariffs’ - this means you pay for your energy before you use it.  Even the cheapest prepayment tariff will cost you more than the cheapest direct debit tariff, and there aren’t as many to choose from.

If you're not in debt to your supplier, consider whether a prepayment meter is right for you. You might be better off switching to a normal meter and paying monthly. With a prepayment meter, you could be left without energy if you pay late.

If you want eco friendly energy

You can choose a ‘green tariff’ if you want your energy to come from renewable supplies like wind or solar. These tariffs are usually more expensive but reduce your carbon footprint.

If you’re on a green tariff, your supplier has to tell you:

  • how much of each kind of renewable energy they generate
  • if they contribute money to environmental schemes on your behalf
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