|Cutting your costs, fighting your corner||Martin's Money Tips Wed 2 Sep 2015|
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The 17 DAY Big Energy Switch Event III
Sadly, the summer holidays are ending and the temperature's dropping but thankfully so are oil & gas prices- you can now get the cheapest energy deal since 2012, so it's ready & in place before winter's high use period.
Q. What do I need to switch? A bill, preferably your annual bill, would be good - and use kWh rather than cost if you can. Yet if you don't have that, estimate your usage (if you're moving home the comparison does it for you) and while the answer won't be perfect, it shouldn't be too far out.
Q. Does MSE make money from this? Yes. Suppliers pay about £60 per dual fuel switch (£30/single fuel) to comparisons & collective schemes. We give £30 back to you as cashback (£15/single fuel), to encourage switching.
Much of the rest pays our suppliers: MoneySupermarket.com (part of the same parent group as MSE), which provides the underlying data & switch process; and Allfiled, the technology database platform. We expect to be left with about £11 per dual fuel switch - less than you get in cashback.
That'll pay the team who work on this, and hopefully leave some profit too. As always, we only ever write based on editorial independence in the consumer interest, as enforced by our legally binding editorial code.
Q. I'm already locked into a fix - should I switch? Our comparison allows you to see how much you'd save compared to your current fix & the price it'll go to afterwards. If you can save, check if that beats any exit penalties. PS: Firms CAN'T charge exit fees if you're within 49 days of the tariff ending.
Q. If prices are dropping, should I wait? British Gas may've just cut its standard tariff by 5%, but it's still on avg £280/yr more than our E.on fix. Other cheap fixes could of course launch, but factoring in the Tesco points this is on avg £40 cheaper than the next best (£70 with cashback), so that's a big gap.
Over the next year energy prices should come down further - though they'd need to be huge to substantially beat this, and switching now means saving immediately. If the world market did drop in an unprecedented way, the worse case scenario is you could pay the £30/fuel exit fee and switch, and it's likely in the meantime you'd have saved more than that anyway. See price predictions.
Q. I'm already with one of these providers (eg, E.on). Can I still switch? Yes (including our Big Switch I E.on winner), plus E.on & Green Star say they won't charge exit fees on their existing tariffs if you change to their winner.
Q. You're normally against exit penalties - why do these have them? Sadly all our cheap bidders had them. Yet our winners are so much cheaper, even if you decide to leave and pay the fee, it's often covered by savings.
Q. Can I switch if I've got a solar panels FIT tariff? Yes. Your FIT payer and your energy supplier are separate. When you switch energy firm, the firm that pays you for generating electricity doesn't automatically switch too, though you could switch it for ease if it supports it (Green Star doesn't).
Q. Can I switch if I've a smart meter? Yes, though you may lose some smart meter functionality by switching.
Q. Who's responsible for these tariffs, MSE or the energy firm? The energy firm is responsible for supplying you, and you pay it. Yet we take our bit seriously and ask all providers to set up special customer help teams with max 48 hour response times. If something goes wrong, and it won't help, let us know and we'll try to help.
Q. If I'm on the Warm Home Discount, can I switch? Yes to Eon, no to Green Star which doesn't support it. Yet how this works depends on which type of discount you have, see Warm Home help.
Q. Is there a credit check? E.on does a full credit check (Green Star doesn't). In a few (1 in 50) cases it may ask for a £200/fuel security deposit. If so you can choose to stop the switch.
Q. Can I get paper bills? Yes, but the prices listed are for paperless. E.on charges an extra £5/fuel/yr and Green Star £7.50/fuel/yr for them.
Q. I'm supplied by an Independent Gas Transporter (IGT) - can I switch? Yes, both E.on & Green Star support IGTs at no extra cost.
Q. Where can I see the standing charge & kWh collective switch costs? They vary by region, so we display your exact cost in the Cheap Energy Club comparison result - just click the 'Feedback & Full Info' link.
Q. My direct debit is in credit - will I get it back if I switch? Yes and it could be by £100s. Ensure you ask the firm you're leaving for it (if not, some mightn't cough up). See Reclaim Energy Credit.
Q. I'm in debt with my supplier. Can I switch? Yes, usually, but it varies with supplier - some make you pay it off or get it under a certain balance. For prepaid tariffs you can always switch unless your debt's £500+.
Q. Is paying by monthly direct debit cheapest? Yes, typically £70-£90/yr less than other methods - just do regular meter readings so it's accurate.
Q. I got a cheap fix then it put my cost up? It's the rate that's fixed, ie, the price per unit, but what you pay depends on usage. If a firm's underestimated your usage (or you start using more) your direct debit can be increased even on a fix. If you think it's too high, you can ask for it to be lowered.
Know someone who's overpaying? Spread the word to help cut energy bills.
| Warning: Govt plans to slash solar panel earnings from £515/yr to £135/yr |
ACT NOW to grab the high rate before it's cut, as then it's locked in at that for 20 years. For many it's a big earner
The sun may be about to set on solar panels. A Govt consultation's proposing the biggest changes to the scheme since it launched, decimating the amount those with panels are paid for generating electricity. For many this will mean it simply won't add up. Yet there's time to beat it. Full info in our Solar Panels guide, here's the crucial Q&A...
Legally grab someone else's suitcase and £100s of contents. Buy unclaimed cases in luggage auctions and you may strike gold like forumite 306NOTOUT: "Paid £25, incl glasses I eBayed for £100". Related: How to buy stolen goods
New. Free £150 to switch to no.1 cust service bank. The price war intensifies. Switch to First Direct* via this link and you get £150 (was £100). It's won every cust service poll we've run, 92% rate it great, plus it has a £250 0% overdraft & linked 6% regular saver provided you pay-in £1,000/mth. See 10 bank switching need-to-knows to make £100s for full info incl eligibility criteria.
| Longest EVER 0% spending card - 26mths interest-free borrowing |
Now, if you play your cards right, you can borrow for well over two years at no cost whatsoever
Credit cards are both the best and worst way to borrow. They're great if you've a planned purchase (eg, new sofa) that's budgeted for, with comfortable repayments and if you do it at 0%. They're a nightmare if you're just borrowing willy-nilly to fill gaps in your income - that leads to a credit dependency and can kill your finances. So be careful.
Shift card debts to 40mth 0% - longest EVER. Till next Wed (9 Sep) accepted new cardholders can balance transfer to Virgin Money* (eligibility calc) at 40mths 0% for a one-off 2.99% fee. Repay quicker? Barclaycard's* (eligibility calc) up to 36mths 0% for a lower 2.39% fee, HSBC's* (eligibility calc) 32mths 0%, 1.4% fee & Tesco Bank's* 19mths 0% FEE-FREE. Always make the min repayment & clear before the 0% ends or they jump to 18.9% rep APR (Tesco 20.6%). Full info: Top Balance Transfers (APR Examples)
Tell friends about us. They can get this free every week.
| Show Best Buys |
Morphy Richards 20% off codes, eg, £90 blender £43. MSE Blagged. Includes sales items. Morphy Richards
Ends Sun. FREE insulation worth £700 plus £25 J Lewis/Argos voucher. MSE Blagged. Anyone in a suitable home (not NI) can get free loft & cavity wall insulation and a £25 J Lewis/Argos etc gift card. Free Insulation
| Beat Nov's car insurance tax hike by locking-in TODAY'S price |
5 tricks to use today as car insurance prices are already rising and Nov's tax increase will accelerate it
In July's Budget the Chancellor said 'Insurance Premium Tax' will rise from 6% to 9.5% on 1 Nov. This is a tax on insurance companies, and laughably the Treasury's indicated surprise that many insurers will pass it on to consumers by raising prices. Combine that with increased costs in general and it's worth EVERYONE checking if they can lock in cheaply now.
3 audiobooks £3, incl 50 Shades & Go Set A Watchman. MSE Blagged. 3-mth newbies' trial. Audible Deals
SUCCESS OF THE WEEK: (Send us yours on this or any topic)
Want to test our new FREE TravelMoneyMax iPhone app? It a) compares 40 bureaux to find cheapest travel cash (incl distance indicator for collection); b) has a unique personalised currency calc to use while away to show which card/cash to use. Test it: TMM iPhone app (or test Android here). Please feedback.
Did you get our recent Sky TV & broadband collective deal? It's incorrectly billed a few people - but it's being sorted. Full help
Show Best Buys
CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK
MONEY MORAL DILEMMA
THE GREAT HUNT
Quick forum tips
Freebie of the week
Martin's appearances (from Wed 2 Sep onward)
Thu 3 Sep - GMB, ITV, Deals of the Week, 7.40am. Watch previous
MSE team corner
Regular team appearances:
Thu 3 Sep
Discussion of the week
While they don't always work out cheaper, there's definitely a bargain to be found in your local pound store. What kind of things do you buy from them? Share your hints and tips in the forum discussion.
Cheap travel money
Question of the week
Q: I bought a handbag last week and when I first zipped it up the zip broke. Annoyingly, I've lost the receipt so can I return it and get my money back? Laura, by email
MSE Helen S's A: If the goods are faulty, by law, all you need is to prove your purchase. The easiest way is with a receipt, but if you can't find it, a bank or credit card statement showing the purchase should suffice. If you paid cash, it's more tricky but give it a go as the store may be able to trace the purchase or take your word. Some play games though.
If you're returning something not faulty, you have no legal return rights. However, some stores allow you to return unused items. But then what they say goes - so if their policy says you need to have the receipt, you need it. Full information on your Sad Fart rights (trust us, click the link and you'll see it means something) in our Consumer Rights guide.
Please suggest a question of the week (we can't reply to individual emails).
|Nick's free game of the week: Bound Bear|
Where do babies come from?
That's it for this week, but before we go, our forumites are dealing with that question that comes to all parents: where do babies come from? Read as one forumite, under pressure from his daughter's questioning, blurts out the first thing that comes to mind. We won't spoil it for you but it involves a dog bed and a chicken's egg.
Martin & the MSE team
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