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When Energy Companies Increase Their Prices

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 14 Jan 2015 | comments*Discuss
Energy Suppliers Price Increases Gas

Fuel costs in the home are one of the major household expenses. If energy companies do increase their prices there is a way to save money while switching to an alternative energy supplier.

Avoiding Energy Price Increases

Although energy suppliers make millions in profits each year they still insist on hiking up their prices; usually from between seven and nine percent. Naturally, customers are becoming increasingly fed up with increasing energy prices. If energy suppliers do increase their prices there is nothing to stop customers seeking an alternative supplier. Customers who have received written notification of price increases can reject and stop the increase before they actually switch energy providers.

The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets Regulations

There is a rule set out by the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) that can help customers beat price increases. The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets are the regulators of the gas and electricity companies. There is an Ofgem rule that allows customers to notify energy suppliers that they are switching companies and this will stop the price increase. The price increase will be halted until the energy provider switchover takes place. This is a little known rule that can save customers money until the switchover takes place.

How to Switch Energy Providers and Save Money

Customers who do wish to beat the price increase must notify their present supplier within 20 days of receiving the energy price rise notification. Energy companies can send notifications letters up to 65 days after they have applied the price increase. Customers should inform energy suppliers in writing that they reject this price increase. Customers will then have a further 15 business days within which to arrange an alternative supplier. Energy switchovers will usually take around a month to six weeks to complete but this is not always the case.

Enjoy Lower Energy Prices for Longer

Although six weeks is an average time for energy switchovers to take place, the actual changeover can take longer. In some cases it can actually take up to 20 weeks for the energy provider switchover to take place. This means customers can enjoy around four months of lower cost gas and electricity prices. This could mean hundreds of pounds saved on energy costs. Customers do need to be quick to send energy price rejection letters once they have received price rise notifications.

Finding the Most Competitive Energy Supplier

Finding a new energy supplier does not take too much effort. Lower prices than those offered by the present energy companies will be the objective. But even if the new provider has equal prices a big saving can be made during the switchover period. Using an online energy price comparison website will give an idea of the energy providers and the prices available. Price comparisons and the amount of energy suppliers available will depend on the customer’s location.

Keep an Eye on Estimated Energy Readings To Save Money

Customers have been caught out many times by simply paying estimated readings provided by energy suppliers. Estimated readings occur when energy suppliers cannot gain access to physically read the customer’s meter. Many people have simply paid the estimated reading rather than check and send in their own meter reading. There have been many cases of customers paying hundreds of pounds more than was actually due. Over estimated readings should be financially corrected at later date but this can still mean hundreds of pounds sitting with the energy providers rather than in the customer’s bank account.

Beware of the Catch-Up Bill Excuse

A common excuse for high estimated readings is the ‘catch-up’ for the year bill. Energy suppliers will claim that a meter reading has been taken at some point but that many more were estimates during the year. They will then say that the large bill is a catch up bill for the entire year due to estimates. Never trust the catch-up bill excuse; catch-up can simply be another word for guessing. If an energy bill looks too high then compare prices with similar households that would use approximately the same amount of gas or electricity.

It is not unusual for energy companies to get billings wrong. Speak to an energy supplier representative and request a physical reading and a meter check if the bill seems too high. Many representatives will simply say that the bill is correct and will try and set up a direct debit instalment payment plan immediately. Do not agree to this payment plan until checks have been made and comparisons to similar households have been completed. The case can be taken to the Financial Ombudsman for a ruling if the price still seems too high.

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@DW89 - refer this to the Energy ombudsman. If your requests are being ignored you should at least be given an explanation as to why you cannot switch to an alternative at the end of your one year contract.
RetirementExpert - 16-Jan-15 @ 11:14 AM
What 'rule' is this? My contract (one year) ended and, at same time, I quoted this and organised switch same day. I told them not to put me onto a 'new' plan with new tariffs and yet that's what they've done hours after I quoted it and told them I was switching. They ignore my pleas that they shouldn't charge me new prices when they've only just told me about it by email (nothing by post, nothing agreed and certainly not within 30 days!). Please help/advise.
dw89 - 14-Jan-15 @ 6:29 PM
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