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Citizens Advice Bureau column: Energy prices might have gone up - but you could get a better deal

Citizens Advice Bureau

Citizens Advice Bureau

My energy supplier has announced price rises. I want to find out if I can get a better deal elsewhere, but I don’t know where to start.

If your energy prices are about to shoot up, you can find out if you can get a cheaper deal elsewhere by switching supplier. You can use a price comparison site approved by Ofgem (www.ofgem.gov.uk), or get help from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Comparing and switching energy tariff or provider can be a confusing process. But using a price comparison site, particularly one signed up to Ofgem’s Confidence Code, can help you to find a better deal and ensure you’re not paying more for your energy than you need to.

The Confidence Code is a Code of Practice that governs independent energy price comparison sites. It insists that members follow key principles for how they must operate their service. So using a site with the Confidence Code logo means that the process of switching energy supplier should be easier, more reliable and reassuring for you.

Energy suppliers must give you at least 30 days’ notice of any price increases, so act fast to make changes before the increases come into force. If you decide to switch suppliers, you need start the switching process within 20 days of being told about a price increase, that way your existing supplier can’t enforce the price rise.

Under new rules, if you’re on a fixed term contract and it’s coming to an end, your supplier must tell you between 42 and 49 days beforehand so, if you want to, you can switch suppliers during this time without any penalties.

And if you are on a fixed term contract signed on or after July 15, 2013, suppliers can’t increase prices, unless the price increase was agreed in advance - for example with a tracker tariff. If your supplier breaks these rules you can complain, first to the energy supplier, then to the Energy Ombudsman.

If you are having difficulty paying for energy, or worried that your bills might be about to rise, contact South Kesteven CAB to speak to a specialist advisor.

 

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