Read our round-up of the most commonly held energy myths and arm yourself with the facts before making the switch to a new gas or electricity supplier.
Shopping around for a new gas and electricity provider is a great way to make sure you’re getting the best deal on your energy supply. But there are many misunderstandings which stop people from making the switch.
So put yourself in the picture by checking out our list of the 10 most commonly believed energy myths.
Myth 1: You have to sign up to your local energy supplier.
Until the 1990s households were supplied by British Gas and electricity came from your local supplier. But deregulation of the gas market in May 1998 and electricity a year later, allowed consumers to choose any company they wanted to supply their energy.
There are now around 20 different gas and electricity suppliers in the UK and you can switch to any of them. So don’t let the name put you off - you don’t have to live in Scotland to be supplied by Scottish Power, for example.
Myth 2: You have to have your gas and electricity supplied by the same company.
Many suppliers offer a dual fuel option but while it’s usually cheaper to get gas and electricity from the same company, this is not always the case. So it is worth shopping around.
Myth 3: Switching is too much hassle.
Not so. Shop around for the best deal at an accredited price comparison site such as Confused.com. You contact the company your wish to switch to and give them a meter reading when they ask for it. And that’s it. They’ll contact your old supplier and arrange the switch. The process normally takes four to six weeks, but everything happens behind the scenes: you don’t have to have workmen coming to your home or anything like that.
Myth 4: You’ll be left without gas or electricity supply while switching.
Gas and electricity all comes from the same place, the only thing that changes when you switch is who’ll be charging you for that supply.
Myth 5: There is only one tariff per payment method.
Unfortunately no, although this is something energy regulator Ofgem has proposed following their recent review of the energy market which found the number of tariffs has shot up from 180 in 2008 to more than 300 currently. Ofgem has called for an end to this tariff complexity and the matter is currently under consultation. To find out what tariff you’re on, check your latest bill. It should also be on your annual statement.
Myth 6: How I pay doesn’t affect the amount I pay.
Not true. Figures from the UK's Big Six energy providers reveal that it is currently £91 a year cheaper to pay by direct debit than on receipt of bill. Energy companies claim this is because the payment is cheaper to process but if you pay by direct debit then payment is guaranteed, unlike paying on receipt of bill. So suppliers are happy to offer discounts for customers who pay by direct debit.
Myth 7: I rent my home so I can’t switch my supply.
Renting should not be a bar to switching supplier. Check the small print of your tenancy agreement as this will usually outline whether you need to inform your landlord but generally being a tenant doesn’t automatically mean you can’t switch supplier.
Myth 8: You can only switch once.
You can switch as many times as you like, though there may be exit fees if you’re currently signed up to a fixed-term product.
Myth 9: If you do your cooking and washing late at night, the electricity will be cheaper.
This is only true if you are on an Economy 7 tariff. Otherwise, the price remains the same throughout the day.
Myth 10: If I don't tell my energy company how much I really use, they won't ever chase me for money owed.
Energy companies are obliged to read your meter at least once every two years so they will catch up with you. It's far better to read the meter regularly and pay for what you use.
We’ve put together a guide to answer some of the most frequently asked questions on all aspects of energy, from big things such as choosing the right tariff, to the little things like knowing where to find your supply number.