Switching utility suppliers is perhaps the most stressful thing anyone can do next to moving house. From incorrect meter readings to companies sending out bills for the same time period, there are many things that can - and sadly do - seem to go wrong during the handover from one utility provider to the next.
If you're an EDF Energy customer, you can use their meter reading app to get the most accurate reading before switching accounts.
Do Your Homework Before Switching Energy Supplier
Start by working out how much gas and electricity you consume over a typical year. It isn't an easy thing to do as the billing systems used by all power companies are complicated. Many will charge two different rates on each Kilowatt Hour used for example, depending on your tariff.
But if you add up the total paid over a year and divide that figure by 12, then you have a monthly amount which you can ask rival suppliers to beat. In a nutshell, the more gas and electricity you use, the greater the chances of making a decent saving, as utility companies will compete that bit harder for your business.
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Top Rated Utility Companies
Next, have a look and see which companies are rated best, not just on price, but also on customer service. As regards switching suppliers, price isn't the only issue - you want the process of switching suppliers to go as smoothly as possible.
Now do a little bit more homework and think local, because utility companies often promote different tariffs and special deals in various parts of the UK. Partly, this is down to history, as some companies are traditionally stronger brand names in certain parts of the UK. Ask your neighbours first, and then check with friends on Facebook or Twitter, to see if they can recommend a supplier in your area.
Use Reviews to Save Money on Your Energy Bill
A 2011 Which? Magazine survey revealed that Ovo Energy and Utility Warehouse were rated best for customer service, with Npower and First Utility coming bottom of the list. Out of the bigger name power companies, Which? readers rated E.On best at promoting energy efficiency. Meanwhile Npower were rated worst for clarity of their billing system. Out of the `big six' energy providers, Scottish & Southern Electricity (SSE) came out best. SSE power deals are also sold via Marks & Spencer.
Survey feedback is useful, especially if a particular issue, such as correct billing, or the amount of power sourced via renewable energy is important to you. But bear in mind that the highly rated Utility Warehouse service is sold as a `pyramid sales' type of franchise - users of the service are rewarded by signing up more customers. You may not want to spend your time selling utility and broadband contracts to your friends and family. Survey results are just a general guide.
Gas and Electricity Bills Top Money Saving Tips
Ask detailed questions to the sales advisor on how the switchover will happen. Ask for specific dates and terms and conditions by email, so there's a written record of what has been agreed.
If you have a Smartphone take pictures of your electric and gas meters. Not just the figures on screen, but also the location of the meters, in case there is any argument about the access to the meter when it comes to taking a reading.
If you are moving into a new property, take meter readings in the presence of the letting/estate agent when the keys are handed over. If this is not possible, read them immediately and email them to the agent, as well as the power company.
If you have a dispute with your supplier, take notes, or record your calls. Most Smartphones have a record facility.
Be polite. Firm but fair usually works best at resolving problems. If not, you can take your unresolved complaint to the Ombudsman.
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