Do your research before changing energy supplier, or maybe consider green energy
After the Beast from the East came the big thaw and then the fear of gas shortages.
Now there is the shock of energy bill increases for Midlands householders with prices hitting record highs.
As residents turned up their heating to beat the cold the price of imported gas through pipelines from the continent rose to more than six times usual levels.
“That will obviously have a knock-on effect on customers, particularly those on variable rate tariffs,” admitted green energy expert Ron Fox.
But he warned people not to rush in and swap suppliers, even though Eon and Bulb have already passed on the higher costs with bigger consumer bills.
He said they should research carefully if they were switching to one of the newer and smaller suppliers after a warning that some could go under because of rising costs and a lack of investment.
Already Future Energy with about 10,000 customers went bust last month. Though the energy regulator Ofgem will automatically transfer people to another provider if a firm fails, bills could still go up.
Ofgem said more than 5,000,000 customers swapped supplier last year and more than half of those went to smaller companies.
Those who switched from a variable rate tariff to a fixed rate deal would have saved around £376 a year.
Ron, of Noreus Ltd at Keele, Staffordshire, said firstly, people should enter the tariff and energy usage from their most recent bill on a price comparison website which will suggest the cheapest supplier.
However, he advises people thinking of moving to a new small provider to then look at three areas.
“Beware of companies who ask you to pay up front for a better deal, they may not have a big enough cash reserve. Secondly, if this provider has a poor customer service record it may be struggling with rapid expansion. Finally, make sure the company gives both value for money and has a good trading record.”
If they are happy then people can organise the switch online and it should be completed within weeks with no interruption to supply.
Meanwhile, for those looking for even more freedom from rising electricity and heating costs, Ron recommends looking at renewable alternatives.
These include rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, which change energy from the sun into domestic electricity, and air source heat pumps, which work by absorbing heat from the atmosphere and converting this into power for the home.
An added bonus is that any surplus energy not used by the solar PV panels can be sold back to the National Grid, said Ron. Also the price of installing the panel has fallen dramatically over the last few years, so the initial outlay is recovered more quickly.
He concluded: “For most people, freedom from the prospect of uncertainty in the energy market and the very real possibility of price rises in the future makes renewable solutions an attractive alternative.”
For help and advice about green energy matters contact Ron on 0845 474 6641 or go to www.noreus.co.uk