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Energy bills update: Should you switch?

April 28, 2011 Leave a comment

As we emerge from the coldest time of the year, when energy use peaks, prices are stable. Unfortunately, they’re also higher than they were before the cold weather set in.

However, things may be about to change in the energy market. Ofgem has announced a huge overhaul of energy market rules that will do away with the many of the tariffs currently available, simplfy pricing and make suppliers more accountable.

Experts are predicting price rises across the market as continuing unrest in the Middle East pushes up wholesale energy costs.

‘The best tariffs, particularly low-cost fixed rates, are filling up fast and once they are oversubscribed, providers pull them,’ says Mark Todd, managing director at switching service energyhelpline.com.

‘If you’re looking to switch, you must act fast as prices are likely to start to rise by late summer.’

Npower’s Go Fix 5 tariff is fixed until May 2012 and costs £963 a year, based on the benchmark usage quoted above.

EDF is offering Fixed Price 2012, also a one-year fixed tariff, at £1,009 a year. ScottishPower has a three-year fix at £1,081. But these deals won’t be around for long.

The typical dual-fuel tariff for standard energy deals is £1,150 a year, according to Energyhelpline.

Consumers pay a premium to fix their bills, but with prices set to rise the gamble could pay off, particularly over three or four years. Of course, if energy prices fall then you will be paying over the odds.

Gas oven

How to get cheaper bills If you’ve never hunted down the best deal you are likely to be on a standard tariff.

Anyone interested in paying the least possible for energy should have little interest in standard tariffs. They should watch the ‘online’ tariffs, where you apply over the internet. Online tariffs are traditionally cheaper than standard tariffs.

Energy switching: The background

If you have never switched suppliers, or haven’t switched for an extended period of time, then now is the time to do it. Suppliers offer their cheapest rates via online tariffs so if you’re ready to switch, it will certainly pay to do so.

Suppliers tend to charge more for electricity to those customers who live in their ‘home’ region – the areas where they enjoyed a monopoly before energy deregulation. So switching away will almost always save you money.

Prices are different all over the country and the cheapest supplier for you will depend where you live. You only need to be interested in the tariff that is going to be cheapest where you live, so do your own comparison to find the best price.

Which suppliers have the best record on prices?

Customers hoping to single out one consistently competitive energy supplier, to avoid switching every year, face a difficult task.

gas bill

There are a dizzying number of options facing customers when they come to choose a new supplier and comparing like-with-like on energy is difficult.

For a period a few years ago, Scottish & Southern Energy (which also trades as Southern or Atlantic) could be relied upon to consistently be one of the cheapest on ‘standard tariff’ energy. These are the prices which the majority of customers pay because these are the prices for those customers who have never switched supplier, simply becoming a customer of the incumbent energy supplier in their area after deregulation of the energy market.

In the past three years, British Gas has stepped up efforts to compete on standard tariff prices and for a while was consistently the cheapest provider.

However, looking at standard tariffs is a false picture. If you are looking to switch to a cheaper supplier, it makes the most sense to opt for an ‘online’ tariff. The energy is exactly the same, but customers forego quarterly paper bills, they pay by direct debit and deal with the supplier online only.

Online tariffs are cheaper than standard tariff and suppliers launch and withdraw online offers almosty constantly, so the cheapest supplier will change every few months.

Energy rates will continue to rise, what can we do?

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

With energy rates currently on the rise, it all seems like doom and gloom. Not necessarily!

We should be shopping around for the best deal, as we do for insurance. By doing this, we can obtain better rates than simply staying with the existing supplier.

By allowing specialist brokers to work for you, your time is freed up to concentrate on your main business where you will be more productive. We can navigate around the problems that are all too common, time-consuming and confusing.

What else can be done to keep our costs down? Quite simply, we need to manage and adjust our energy usage habits. Often these can be fairly basic practices, U-GET can advise with this.

Monitoring your energy usage, pin-pointing trends and anomalies and acting on this is the way forward. Smart meters are being introduced with the perception that this will cure our ineffective routine and reduce bills – not if we do nothing with our data. A simple and effective procedure is to use an Energy Monitor, clipping the transmitter to our meter and sending information to the monitor, with the data able to be viewed on your pc.

We can do something to help reduce our costs, in business and at home, even in a rising market. However, we need to take a pro-active approach to it.

Practical energy management

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Reducing energy use makes perfect business sense; it saves money, enhances corporate reputation and helps everyone in the fight against climate change.

The Carbon Trust provides simple, effective advice to
help businesses and public sector organisations take action
to reduce carbon emissions, and the simplest way to do
this is to use energy more efficiently.

This management overview provides practical advice
to businesses on how to identify energy waste and
implement savings. This will ensure long-term benefits
for people, the business and the environment.

Although many organisations believe energy is a fixed overhead,
it actually represents one of the best opportunities for saving money.

For a copy of this guide or any others, please email:

info@u-getconsultancy.co.uk

Energy — it’s much more manageable than you think

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Energy is not an unmanageable overhead — it is one of the largest controllable costs in most organisations.

Cutting energy costs through improved energy
efficiency goes straight to the bottom line, making
your organisation immediately more competitive.
And saving energy doesn’t need massive investment in
time or money. At minimal cost you could save up to
20% on your energy bills — which could be equal to a
5% sales increase.

The Carbon Trust fact sheet can help you to begin in cutting your energy costs. Email now to receive your free copy:

info@u-getconsultancy.co.uk

For your FREE energy bill review, contact us today

U-GET Consultancy Services, ‘The Solution to your Energy Problem’.

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

The Problem

  • Is my business paying too much in utility costs?
  • Does my business consume a lot of energy?
  • When did I last check my energy rates?
  • Am I on the best tariff available?
  • Why should I spend valuable time calling suppliers when U-GET will do it for me?

We all want to pay the least possible for products and services. Often the research can be tiresome and when you don’t understand the industry and service, you can be left even more confused!

The Solution

How would you like your energy bills to be reviewed, for FREE, to find you the best rates from the market?

Our goal is to save you as much money as possible.

Our experience helps our customers to avoid:

–       inflated rates

–       additional charges

–       pitfalls the utility sector has in store

With winter just around the corner and rising energy prices, now could be a good time to switch.

Contact U-GET today, to see what we can do for you.

The Problem

COULD YOUR BUSINESS SAVE £000’s BY SIMPLY SWITCHING ENERGY PROVIDERS?

  • · Is my business paying too much utility costs?
  • · Does my business consume a lot of energy?
  • · When did I last check my energy rates?
  • · Am I on the best tariff available?
  • · Why should I spend valuable time calling suppliers when U-GET will do it for me?

We all want to pay the least amount for products and services, making savings where possible. Often this can require tiresome research and when you don’t understand the industry and service, you can be left even more confused!

The Solution

How would you like your energy bills to be reviewed, for FREE, to discover the best rates and providers from the market?

Our goal is to save you as much money as possible.

Our experience helps our customers to avoid:

– inflated rates

– additional charges

– pitfalls the utility sector has in store

With winter just around the corner and rising energy prices, now could be a good time to switch.

Do you understand your energy bills?

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Person confused about billsConfusing energy bills could stop you getting the best deal.

From a recent Which? magazine article of the same title, they highlight the fact that many of us either don’t understand our energy bills and tariffs or find it confusing, that they spend so much time reading through it, just to make sense of it – eventually.

Are the energy companies doing this on purpose, a sort of conspiracy theory? In the hope that you or I will receive our renewal letter and think to yourself:

“I’m just going to stick with them because I really do not have the time or inclination to trawl through the bill to make ‘head nor tail’ of it?”

Perhaps! Either way, we as the consumer lose out. Do nothing and pay more than need be. Spend time understanding the bill and searching for better rates, you are assigning a lot of time, some might say ‘wasteful time’ in your quest for improved rates.

I have been in this position as well, both domestically and commercially. Trying to fathom my home electricity bill – economy 10. Would it be better for me to switch to economy 7? What are the pro’s and con’s of this? Who do I call and will I go from option to option before eventually speaking with another human, by which time you’ve assigned half an hour of your life to listening to what is now, rather irritating music.

Try sorting it yourself, to keep on top of it, which is admirable, then you will probably want to compile a spreadsheet. Noting your current rates, consumption levels, new rates from current supplier then from competitors. Once more, you’ve spent time on this task.

And then once you think that you have sorted it, you decide to try the suppliers once more, in the hope that you can re-negotiate the rates.

So how long has all this taken? A morning, a whole day perhaps. Either way, it’s time that you could and would have liked to of spent in some other way. Ok, so you may have saved yourself £££’s, but you feel drained. I know, I have been there. I’ve done this for businesses too. I would say that it’s not fun, but actually, I do enjoy the challenge, the fact finding, the analysis, yes, sometimes it isn’t as straight forward as you may think. But that’s for another time.

So what can you do? Ideally, as Which? are campaigning for, is to have our bills simplified. That’s a start. However, do you still want to spend all this time searching for the best rate? I’m certain that you don’t. There are sites and business that can do this for you and yes, it is often FREE. They won’t charge to look through your bill and find you a new rate or a selection of rates for you to choose from.

Domestically, the comparison sites do this for you, with some basic data entry from yourself. For business energy, it’s similar, however, there are companies such as U-GET that simply require a copy of a bill and a ‘letter of authority’ to begin the process. What we can provide, is the human element, helping resolve your problems; not knowing who a supplier may be when moving into a new shop or building, needing someone to check your bill as you believe it maybe incorrect.

We know that it’s confusing as well as time-consuming. When you have a business to run, this is something that you simply do not want to deal with. Allowing energy brokers and consultants to act on your behalf is a convenient and hassle free solution. Using the various suppliers to source rates and tariffs from means that we are independent and impartial, not favouring any one.

What’s more, you don’t have anything to lose by using the service, as you won’t pay us a penny.

Through affiliates, we are able to help with your energy consumption habits. Assessing  and reducing them, with the aim of further reducing your costs. Energy management article

Have you found it difficult to work out how your bills have been calculated?

  • Are any of these easier to understand: your telephone bill or your gas and/or electricity bills?
  • What do you think could be done to improve things?

Contact U-GET Consultancy today, we’ll explain what we can do for you. Also, check our home energy comparison site.

If you had a power cut, would you know who to contact?

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

How many of you would call your energy provider?

I bet the majority of people reading this article are probably saying to themself, ‘well of course I would call my provider…wouldn’t I’? Now the doubt has been sown in your mind, hasn’t it?

As you may have gathered, no you don’t call your energy supplier when you have a power cut.  Your network distributor is who you should contact.

Who? I hear you say. The distributors are responsible for maintaining and operating the network (all the cabling/piping and infrastructure). Your energy provider will be sourcing the energy for you, but they won’t necessarily be responsible for making sure it makes it to your home. With gas, there is a single operator and number that you contact. With electricity, the network distribution is broken up.

There are currently 14 distributors in the UK. Take a look at this link that shows the distributor map. The gas is quite straight forward to understand. To work out who your electricity distributor is, use the map and table that is directly beneath it.

So how does it work? As an example, if you live in London, simply locate this on the map, which we can see is number 12. Move along to the table, look up number 12 and we can see: that the distributor is EDF Energy Networks and you should contact 0800 028 0247.

It would be extremely useful to print this out and keep in a safe and easily accessible place, for reference when you do have a power cut. Energy Emergency Contacts download.

Gas and electricity prices: How are they calculated?

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

The BBC have today published an article that provides slightly more information than normal, as to how our Gas and Electricity Prices are calculated and why they rise.

The message that the article is attempting to convey, is that our energy prices are based on market prices, not just from today or yesterday, but a range of prices over the past days, weeks, months and even years. The reason for doing this is to mitigate the risk that they could potentially face.

As an example, take today. An energy supplier will not purchase all it requires the day before, or even on the day. The reason for not doing so – the volume will not be achievable and prices may be high. It is a HIGH RISK strategy, that no energy company or will take. Instead, they spread their risk over time.

So the example in this article shows that the gas price in July 2008 was 100p/th, for delivery in the fourth quarter 2010. However, in spring 2010, it was below 40p/th. The point here being, that energy companies would have purchased some of the higher priced gas to cover their position. Therefore, this price is factored into the overall costing that we now see today. If the purchase prices are high, then ultimately, the energy companies will have to raise their prices.

Something else to consider, that this article doesn’t mention, are the transmission costs. These too affect the retail price.

Freezing weather along with price hikes will see increased energy bills. Let’s reduce these NOW!

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

With this present cold spell and recent energy price hikes, it is safe to say that as consumers we are likely to be paying far more to our energy providers when that next bill comes round!

Our heating’s on longer, as too is our lighting too. Add to this mix the fact that we are likely to be staying indoors for greater periods of time, making more hot drinks and food as well! This all adds up to a greater amount of energy consumption.

It’s difficult in the cold weather period to get that balance correct. You want to stay warm and healthy, yet this means cranking up our energy sources and that means greater expenditure.

OFGEM have an information leaflet to help consumers with their winter energy concerns. They highlight four key areas:

  1. Be energy-prepared – knowing your tariff and annual consumption details allows you to be in control. Having a clear idea of your annual consumption will give you a much better idea as to your annual spend, rather than your monthly/quarterly payments.
  2. Shop around for the best deals – Loyalty nowadays doesn’t seem to pay! Why stay with your current supplier when there is likely to be a better tariff elsewhere. Shop around, either doing the leg-work yourself, comparison site or an energy broker such as U-GET. Would you pay £100 more for a television from one shop, simply because you have bought other products from them? The same is true of the energy industry.
  3. Become energy efficient – Seek advice on how to reduce your energy consumption. There are simple DIY procedures to take, consulting energy assessor experts as well as speaking to organisations like the Energy Saving Trust.
  4. Get help with your bills – help and advice is available for those having trouble paying their bills.

Don’t sit about doing nothing. The quicker you act, the greater the savings you could be making and many of theses services are FREE.

Energy companies are worst culprits for incorrect billing

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

10.4 million households have unexpectedly owed money to their energy supplier following a discrepancy between an estimated bill and “real” bill.

When it comes to getting your bills wrong, energy companies are some of the worst culprits, according to new research from comparison site uSwitch.com.

Meter readings mean fewer inaccurate bills

In the last two years, 27% of Brits have been billed incorrectly by their energy company and, for 14% of householders, this has happened more than once.

“Inaccurate bills mean consumers end up out of pocket and wasting time and effort trying to resolve billing blunders,” said Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com.

On average, each inaccuracy took over two months to resolve, although 40% were sorted out within a week, a 4% improvement on last year, says uSwitch.com.

The survey also found:

  • Over 10 million households (40%) have unexpectedly ended up owing money to their energy supplier, due to an incorrect bill
  • 14% of households have found themselves owing sums ranging from £200 to £400
  • 8% have ended up owing over £400.

“The fact a growing number of households are providing suppliers with meter readings mean fewer inaccurate bills, less money being owed as a result, and less time being taken to resolve mistakes,” added uSwitch’s Ann Robinson.

“This is extremely welcome, but is certainly no reason for the energy companies to become complacent.”

By Martin Fagan – consumerchoices

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