Most of us heat our homes with gas and cook with gas, so it is usually one of the biggest household bills.
It’s therefore important to make sure you are getting the best deal. And that’s where MoneySuperMarket can help.
Our service makes it easy to compare prices – and 51% of our customers save up to £180 on their annual energy bills.
Gas bill at the ready
It’s probably best if you have a recent gas bill to hand, so we can make a truly accurate comparison.
But if you can’t find the paperwork, our estimation tool can come up with a usable figure based on other information such as the size of your house and your family, your location and your current supplier.
The cost of the deal is probably the priority, but you should also take a look at the various types of tariff.
The standard tariff is usually the most expensive. It is also variable, so the price per unit of gas could go up or down. However, standard tariffs are flexible, which means you are not tied into a set term.
The fixed option
Fixed tariffs are typically cheaper, with the price of your gas fixed over the term of the deal, usually up to five years.
A fix makes it easier to control your budget because you are protected from any price hikes, but remember that it’s the cost per unit of energy that’s fixed, not your gas bill. In other words, the size of your bill will vary according to your gas consumption.
Watch out for cancellation fees attaching to a fixed tariff. Most firms charge a penalty if you want to quit the deal early. It’s therefore often better to wait until the fix expires.
Utility firms are obliged to give customers between 42 and 49 days’ notice of the end of a fixed tariff, to allow time to search for a better deal. If you leave during the notice period, there is no cancellation fee.
If you buy both gas and electricity from a single supplier, you’ll receive a so-called ‘dual fuel’ discount. But that does not mean you will pay less than if you get each type of fuel from a different supplier.
This is why we recommend that you compare the cost of a duel fuel deal with the cost of separate supplies of gas and electricity.
But remember, if you find that the separate suppliers route is cheaper, you’ll have to settle two bills and deal with two suppliers.
If you can pay for your gas by monthly direct debit you will almost certainly pay less than if you settle your account by quarterly cash or cheque. Monthly direct debit can also make it easier to budget, though you have to make sure that you keep up to date with meter readings.
Customers who are happy to manage their account online can make savings. Just remember that you won’t be sent a paper bill, so you have to be comfortable with internet transactions.
Complaints about energy companies are depressingly common. So it’s worth trying to find out about your chosen supplier’s standard of service before you switch.
There are various online forums where you can read about the experiences of other consumers. MoneySuperMarket also publishes reader reviews for each supplier on its website.
Traditionally, switching gas suppliers has taken no longer than six weeks, but suppliers are now moving towards 17-day switching (incorporating a 14-day cooling-off period).
The new supplier will contact your old firm to organise the transfer, which should not involve any interruption to your supply. The new supplier will also give you a switching date and ask for meter readings to ensure accurate billing. You will then be sent a final bill by your previous company. Or, if you are in credit, your account should be refunded accordingly.
Cut the costs
Switching to a cheaper deal is one of the best ways to save money on your gas bills, but you can also reduce costs by reducing consumption.
For example, if you turn down the thermostat on your heating by just one degree you could shave as much as 10% off your gas bill.
Loft insulation could also cut your bills by £150 a year. And you could save about £45 a year by insulating your hot water tank.
Check windows and doors for draughts, too, and save up to £55 a year.