With the UK experiencing a relatively incredible spell of good weather, chances are you’ve probably given little thought to your energy supplier for a while.
For most of us, the heating dial will be a distant thought for as long as the summer lasts. But – hear us out – now is a really good time to be thinking about your energy.
Last week, Npower predicted that Britain’s annual average heating bill (£1,247 at time of writing) is set to rise a whopping £240 a year until 2020 because of the need to invest in renewable energy.
It doesn’t take a genius to predict that this might point towards announcements of price rises in the very near future – and where one energy company goes, the rest usually follow.
"Energy prices are only likely to go up in the medium to long term and the key to keeping your bills in check is to shop around regularly to make sure you're on the best tariff for the amount of energy you use and the region you live in,” says Jeremy Cryer, energy expert at Gocompare.com “You should also consider paying by monthly direct debit and opting for online tariffs to benefit from any associated discounts.
"It's always a good idea to shop around for the best deal when it comes to energy, and don't feel like you have to stick with one of the big six providers either. Switching energy suppliers can result in substantial savings, with people who use Gocompare.com to transfer their gas and electricity saving up to £449.19* a year. There is a big market out there and it's worth finding the right tariff for you now in order to protect yourself ready for the colder, darker winter months."
But prices aren’t the sole reason to start scouring the energy market for a cheap deal – you could be getting a better service elsewhere.
Consumer organisation Which? recently tested how quickly various energy companies’ customer service departments responded to calls. Ebico, a relative minnow in the energy market was the quickest, with a positively blistering average response time of just 21 seconds. Meanwhile, Npower (a multiple recipient of the Which? Energy Satisfaction Survey ‘wooden spoon’) had a snail-like average response time of 17 minutes and five seconds.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “It’s outrageous that some energy suppliers are leaving their customers dangling on the phone, in some cases even paying for the privilege, for anything up to half an hour. With rising energy prices one of the top consumer concerns, people deserve to feel confident that customer service is a top priority for their energy supplier.”.
*Based on customers who switched energy supplier for both gas and electricity (dual fuel) using the Energylinx-powered Gocompare.com platforms during the 01 January - 31st March 2013. At least 10% of people who switched energy supplier for both gas and electricity with Gocompare.com saved £449.19 or more