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Citizens Advice Says Shop Around To Save On Energy Bills

Published on: 28 Oct, 2015
Updated on: 28 Oct, 2015

Guildford Citizens Advice is calling on people to shop around and, if need be, switch their energy supplier to get a better deal and adopt energy saving tips to save money off their bill.

The local charity is part of Big Energy Saving Week – a joint campaign with Energy Saving Trust, the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Citizens Advice.

CAB 1Guildford Citizens Advice is aware of the problems some people have with their money because of the high cost of energy and has several tips about debt and affordable warmth advice to help people struggling as winter starts to bite.

Joan O’Byrne, manager at Guildford Citizens Advice, said:

  • If you’re struggling to pay your gas and electricity bills, contact your supplier to discuss your options to pay what you owe them. They have to help you come to a solution.
  • You should try to negotiate a deal that works for both of you. Suggest a repayment plan that will allow you to repay your debts in instalments that you can afford.
  • If you’re struggling to make repayments, let the supplier know as soon as possible.
  • It’s also worth seeking advice to help you work out if there might be extra help available to help you afford your energy bills.
  • If you don’t try to solve the problem with your supplier, they might threaten to disconnect your supply. They can do this unless you are elderly or vulnerable and it is winter.

Citizens Advice also says if you privately rent or own your own home, you could get help with heating and insulation measures to make your home warmer and more energy efficient through the Affordable Warmth scheme. If you are receiving the appropriate benefits you may be considered for help. You may also need a survey of your home to see if you qualify. Call the Energy Saving Advice Service (ESAS) on 0300 123 1234 to find out more.

A number of myths that have grown up about whether you can switch energy supplier or not. Guildford Citizens Advice has some answers:

MYTH: Households cannot change energy supplier if they have a pre-payment meter.

FALSE If you have a prepayment meter, you’ll be able to switch supplier unless you owe your supplier more than £500 for gas or electricity.

MYTH: If you rent and are responsible for paying the bills, your require your landlord’s permission before you can change energy supplier.

FALSE: You have the right to switch supplier if you pay your energy supplier directly for your bills. You should check your tenancy agreement to see if the landlord has a ‘preferred supplier’. This won’t stop you from switching supplier, but you should tell your landlord or letting agent. You may have to return the account to the original supplier at the end of your tenancy.

MYTH: If you move house, you need to use the existing supplier which is serving the new property.

FALSE: While you’ll be automatically put onto a ‘deemed contract’ with the existing supplier of the property, there’s nothing to stop you switching. The deemed contract will normally be one of the most expensive tariffs available, so you should look for a better deal with the existing supplier or a find a new supplier as soon as you move in. You can only change suppliers from the day you become responsible for the property. Switching will normally take about 21 days, so you’ll have to pay at least one bill with the existing supplier.

MYTH: If a household changes energy supplier, it must change both gas and electricity to the new supplier.

FALSE: Consumers can choose to have gas and electricity supplied by different companies or by the same supplier, which is called ‘dual fuel’. It’s up to consumers to choose the right tariff(s) for them, whether that’s a flexible tariff, the cheapest tariff or an environmentally friendly tariff.

MYTH: Households may be disconnected for a short period while changing energy supplier.

FALSE: There should be no break in supply when there is a change of supplier.

MYTH: When households switch energy supplier, the meter will need to be changed.

FALSE:  It’s just the supplier and tariff that change when a household switches energy supplier.

MYTH: When households switch energy supplier, pipes/cables supplying the house will need to be changed.

FALSE: It’s just the supplier and tariff that change when a household switches energy supplier.

MYTH: Households on pre-payment meters cannot change energy supplier if they are in some debt to their current supplier.

FALSE: If you’ve owed money for more than 28 days, you can switch supplier but your debt must be below £500 for gas and £500 for electricity. If you haven’t owed the money for 28 days yet, you’ll have to wait for this time to pass. You’ll need to ask the new supplier to agree to transfer your debt along with your supply (this is called the ‘Debt Assignment Protocol’).

MYTH: The ‘Big 6’ energy suppliers offer the best deals – smaller suppliers are more expensive (the Big 6 energy suppliers are: E.ON, Npower, British Gas, SSE, EDF Energy and Scottish Power).

FALSE: It’s best to shop around to find the best deal. You can use an accredited price comparison website to compare prices from different energy suppliers.

MYTH: A household cannot change energy supplier if the current supplier has installed a smart meter in the property.

FALSE: You can switch, but it’s possible that you’ll lose some of the smart meter functionality. For example, you may have to start submitting meter readings again. This would stop once the supplier you move to introduces smart meters to their customers. If it’s important to you, you should check with the new supplier to make sure they currently offer smart meters before you switch. Suppliers can’t refuse to supply you because you have a smart meter.

Christine Parrott, social policy and impact manager at Guildford Citizens Advice said: “Switching myths mean people are missing out on saving money on their energy bills.

“By shopping around and switching to a different energy deal consumers can cut hundreds of pounds from their gas and electricity bills. Whether you own your home or rent it, and regardless of whether you have a prepayment meter, there are savings to be made.

“The process of shopping around and switching is fairly straightforward but some people might be unsure about how to find the best tariff. Others might be put off by common myths about switching.

“That’s why we’re running Big Energy Saving Week in Guildford to help people find the cheapest deal before temperatures really start to drop. Help and information is available online and over the phone.”

Big Energy Saving Week is a national campaign to help people cut their fuel bills and get all the financial support they are entitled to. The campaign provides advice to people over the telephone through the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234, or face-to-face at hundreds of events being held across Britain.

For advice about switching and to find the best energy deal visit  For advice and tips on how to save money on your energy bill  call the Energy Saving Advice service on 0300 123 1234.



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