By Confused.com energy team
Welcome to our update on the latest developments in the gas and electricity market, which could impact on your bills.
To give you an idea of the best energy tariffs currently available from a range of suppliers, it’s not a bad idea to use a ‘best buy’ table as a point of reference. Below, we’ve listed the current tariffs vying for the top slot.
So what's the market latest?
Ofgem have changed the definition of what constitutes an ‘average user’, and have changed the number of kilowatt hours (kWhs) that they consider an average household uses to a lower figure for gas. This comes with its pros and cons. The good thing is that it suggests households are becoming more energy conscious, and using less fuel in general. The bad thing is that it appears from the best buy table that average bills have gone down. This is illusory, as prices have most certainly gone up in recent history.
Another factor that has affected the table slightly is that discount structures have changed for some tariffs (see below).
Best Buy Table
*Based on average annual consumption of 16500 kWh gas and 3300 kWh electricity. Prices correct at 26 January 2011.
Tariff Key Features
EDF - OnlineS@ver 8
- After the Ofgem changes EDF have fared well to get top of the table with an average annual bill of £876 with a 2% discount against their Standard prices until 31st March 2012
- Discount is guaranteed whether Standard prices go up or down
- Cancellation fees of £60 for a dual fuel tariff, £30 for single fuels if you leave before the discounted period ends
ScottishPower - Online Energy Saver 12
- With an new average bill of £899 per year, ScottishPower’s offering has jumped from position 5 to second place
- Prices 2% lower than their standard monthly direct debit prices until 29th February 2012
- Cancellation fees apply if you leave before the expiry date - £50 for dual fuel accounts, £30 for electricity only, £20 for gas only
- Only available if you manage your account online
- Scottish Power offer cash back if you are in credit at your annual reassessment date
e.on - SaveOnline 5
- e.on are latest supplier to announce their price rise and recently replaced SaveOnline 4 with version 5
- The average bill is £906 per year – a 6% discount again e.on’s EnergyPlan rates
- Only available if you manage your account online and pay by direct debit
- Fixed-term contract with discounted rates until 1st January 2012
- If you leave before the tariff expiry date you will have to pay £30 if you’re on a dual fuel tariff, £10 for an electricity-only tariff
npower – Sign Online 21
- After announcing their price rise in December, npower released their latest version of their Sign Online tariffs which has an average annual bill of £916
- 2% discount compared to npower’s standard tariff until 31st March 2012
- Customers must pay by Direct Debit and manage their account online
- npower discounts are applyied on your anniversary date
- £20 per fuel exit fee (i.e. £40 for a dual fuel tariff) if you leave before 31st March 2012
British Gas - Websaver 10
- British Gas’s best tariff has moved from the bottom of the best buy table to fifth place with an average annual bill of £921
- Only available if you manage your account online and pay by Direct Debit
- Available to both new and existing customers
- Prices guaranteed to remain at least 6% below British Gas’s standard prices until 29th February 2012
- Cancellation fees apply - £30 for each fuel so £60 for a dual fuel tariff
OVO Energy – New Energy Fixed
- OVO’s cheapest tariff is now £933 per year
- The tariff remains fixed for 12 months after your contract signing date at which point you can choose to fix your tariff again, or choose a variable rate product
- OVO also has the ‘greenest’ standard energy which takes 15% from renewable
- Only available to customers willing to manage their account online
- If you want to leave before your contract period is up, you will have to pay a cancellation fee of £60 for a dual fuel tariff, £30 for a single fuel tariff.
Scottish & Southern – Atlantic Fixed Price 3
- Scottish & Southern’s best offering is the fixed rate tariff from its Atlantic brand with an average annual bill of £949 per year
- The average annual bill here has been adversely affected by Consumer Focus’ decision to remove any discounts applied after the first year
- The price you pay for each unit is fixed for one year from your supply start date
- It’s only available to new customers, and you need to be willing to pay by Direct Debit
- Cancellation fee of £35 if you leave this tariff before your 12 months are up
first:utility - iSave 7
- first:utility have also been negatively affected by the change in discount structure as iSave 7 applies its discount in month 13 – this makes their annual bill £1,046 rather than the £931 it becomes after a dual fuel discount of 11% (up to a maximum of £100) which is deducted from your bill at the end of the year after 12 consecutive direct debit payments
- first:utility have a strict vetting procedure with this tariff only being available to home owners, those connected to the mains gas network as well as a number of other factors
*NB: Best buy tables are intended as a guide only. They may not necessarily be the best buys for you, as they are based on average UK consumption levels, whereas your own use may be different. Plus these figures may be subject to regional variations, and some of the named tariffs may be unavailable in certain regions (see below). To get a more accurate picture, you can compare tariffs at Confused.com and find a tariff best suited to your specific circumstances.