Here at Be Energy Smart, we love nothing more than helping you save money on your energy bills, which is why we were delighted when last week, Ofgem revealed its plans to shake up the energy industry, backed by David Cameron and powers brought in under the new Energy Bill. These plans say that:
- There will be a stricter consumer code of conduct, which Ofgem will be backing with fines
- Companies will only be allowed to offer four tariffs per fuel type (gas and electricity)
- Companies will also have to produce a clearer bill which displays the cheapest tariff available
It is still not certain whether these reforms will be implemented – various levels of red tape mean that this will be confirmed in May, but some companies have already gone some way to taking up these measures. British Gas have promised to let its customers know every 6 months whether they could save money on a different tariff, and E.ON are now only offering five tariffs, with a tool to help consumers find the best one for them based on their usage.
There have also been advances in the world of independent switching services. Established comparison sites such as USwitch will now have to compete with smarter sites that use new mechanisms to get consumers an even better deal. Money Saving Expert’s Cheap Energy Club is a scheme that not only finds you your cheapest tariff initially, but it also does checks periodically to see if you’re still on the cheapest tariff, and if you’re not, it tells you who to switch to to save. Another savvy scheme, this time an import from the Netherlands, uses ‘people power’ to get you a better deal. Ichoosr bunches you together with other interested customers in a group. They then auction this group off to the energy companies in a reverse auction, so whichever company offers the lowest tariff wins that group of customers. You have final say on whether you sign up for the offered tariff, and like MoneySavingExpert, it’s totally free. You will however need to get a community leader, like your council, to contact the company to set it up as that’s how the scheme is currently administered. We haven’t heard yet how much customers have saved with these schemes, but the difference between the the most expensive and cheapest tariff can be as high as £200 a year, so you could definitely stand to make some decent savings on your bills.
CERT Alert! If you haven’t yet applied to your energy company for free loft and cavity wall insulation through the government’s CERT scheme, now’s the time to do it as time is running out. Scottish Power and British Gas are still offering the scheme, and you don’t have to be a customer of theirs, so get applying!