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How to switch to a better deal for your home energy

If you’ve been with the same gas and electricity supplier for as long as you can remember, then chances are you’re paying more than you need to. But if you think that switching’s hard work or too much hassle – then think again. With our help, finding a better deal is simple and quick – here’s everything you need to know.

Compare domestic energy

Comparing gas and electricity quotes is the simplest way to find the best deals on the market right now. It’s also a great way to benchmark your current tariff and to see if you could save money by switching.

If you’re not convinced switching is worth your while, then it might surprise you to know that doing so could save you around £482* every year. Searching and switching is also free and if you move provider but change your mind, then you’ve got a 14-day cooling off period – so it’s risk free too.

Shaving money off your bills might also inspire you to save even more by making small changes in your energy use. For example, shortening your shower by just one minute could save £7 per person each year and lowering your heating by a single degree could save £75.

Why compare gas and electricity prices?

Searching for deals online is one of the easiest ways to compare energy prices. Just head to our comparison tool and type in a few details from a recent bill, and as if by magic, we’ll bring up tariffs based on your exact usage.

If you don’t have a statement or bill to hand, then don’t worry, you can still make comparisons but bear in mind they might not be as accurate.

What’s the best way to compare domestic energy rates?

There are lots of different energy deals on offer but while the specific details of each one will vary according to the supplier, they’ll usually fall into one of these main types:

What type of energy deal will you be offered?

  • Variable rate tariffs – this is when the price of your gas or electricity goes up or down depending on wholesale cost, or how much your supplier decides to charge. One of the most expensive tariffs you can be on is your provider’s default ‘standard variable tariff’ (SVT). You can find yourself on an SVT if you haven’t signed up to a new deal when your old one finishes, or if you’ve just moved into a new house. Another type of variable agreement is the ‘tracker tariff’ which follows the wholesale price of gas and electricity.
  • Fixed rate tariffs – these deals freeze the unit price of gas and electricity (measured in kilowatt hours, kWh) for the length of your contract. One of the big benefits is that the price per kWh won’t change even if the wholesale price of energy increases. On the flip side – it means you won’t benefit if wholesale prices fall either. Fixed rate plans give you stability and although your bills will vary depending on how much energy you use, if your use is consistent then it can help you budget.
  • Dual fuel tariffs – this is when you buy both your gas and electricity from the same supplier, they’re convenient because it means you only have one supplier to deal with if anything goes wrong. Some providers will incentivise you to choose dual fuel with them so you could save even more if there are discounts on offer. It can also cut down on your paperwork as some providers will combine your bills too.
  • Prepayment tariffs – this is when you have to feed a meter to get your gas and electricity. You’ll be given a token, or key that you can load up with money which can then be transferred to the meter. These tariffs are typically more expensive than fixed rate deals but thanks to regulator Ofgem, prices are now capped to protect consumers.
  • Economy 7 and 10 – these tariffs mean you pay two different prices for your electricity. With Economy 7, you’ll get seven hours of electricity charged at a lower rate (usually at night-time). Economy 10 is similar, but the ten cheaper hours are spread throughout the day – although very few suppliers offer Economy 10 nowadays.
  • Capped energy tariffs – with these tariffs the cost of your energy is capped at a certain level and you won’t pay any more than this – although you will benefit from price reductions. Capped tariffs use a supplier’s SVT as the benchmark so prices often fall in line with this rather than with the price of wholesale energy.
  • Green tariffs – these contracts used to have a reputation for being pricey, but that’s not the case anymore and green tariffs can be some of the cheapest thanks to improvements in technology which has lowered the cost of production. Levels of renewable energy varies by supplier so you can’t assume that all green tariffs will offer 100% renewable gas or electricity – so if this is important to you then make sure you read the small print.

When you compare energy prices you can choose whether to search for gas and electricity separately, or as a dual fuel tariff. Although dual fuel deals have proven better value in the past – that’s not always the case now and in some instances, the difference is negligible.

While price is important, it’s also worth thinking about what else you value in a provider – for example, a reputation for good customer service, or having UK based call centres.

Can you compare single and dual fuel deals?

Comparing cheap energy prices and switching supplier has never been easier or quicker. All you need to do is type in your postcode and a few details about your energy usage and we’ll search dozens of providers for you. If you can, it helps to have a recent bill as this will tell you what tariff you’re currently on, how much you’re paying and also what your standing charge is.

If we find you a deal you like and you agree to switch, your new supplier will do the rest. They’ll contact your existing provider and arrange the switchover. If you suddenly change your mind, then don’t forget that you have a 14-day cooling off period.

The switch itself should only take a maximum of 21 days although most are done within just 17. You’ll need to take meter readings and settle any outstanding bills or claim back any refunds if you’ve overpaid. It sounds like a lot to remember but your new supplier should send you a welcome pack setting out what you need to do.

The best time to search for a new energy deal is towards the end of your current contract – your supplier will let you know when that is. Having a deal in place means you’ll avoid ending up on a costly SVT.

The best time to search for a new energy deal is towards the end of your current contract – your supplier will let you know when that is. Having a deal in place means you’ll avoid ending up on a costly SVT.

What happens when you compare energy prices?

* Between 1 Jan 2018 and 30 Jun 2018, at least 10% of people who switched energy supplier for both gas & electricity with uSwitch saved £482 or more.

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