You are here: Home - Household Bills - News -

Check your tariff: 15 million households ‘sleepwalking’ towards higher energy bills

Written by:
More than 15 million British households could be sleepwalking towards higher energy bills because of confusion around tariffs, new research reveals.

A survey by comparison site Comparethemarket found over half (56%) of UK adults don’t know that when their fixed tariff deal expires, they’re automatically moved on to a pricier standard variable tariff (SVT).

In fact, the survey revealed widespread confusion about the difference between fixed deals and SVTs.

One in five (21%) of people surveyed didn’t know the difference between them, with some believing that being ‘fixed’ to a tariff simply means you’re locked in and unable to switch, while others think it means you can only use a ‘fixed’ amount of energy for the duration of the tariff.

A fixed tariff offers guaranteed standing charges and unit rates, usually until a defined end date. Customers on an SVT pay a variable price each month which can go up and down depending on movements in the wholesale energy market, among other things.

The research found even savvy consumers on competitive fixed price tariffs don’t know when their deal ends, leaving them at risk of being automatically moved onto an uncompetitive SVT – 41% of households on fixed tariffs didn’t know when their tariff expired.

It also revealed nearly a fifth of households don’t know whether they’ve been rolled onto an SVT and 12% don’t know the type of tariff they’re currently on.

The findings are particularly concerning because the government’s energy cap has recently gone up, meaning people already on an SVT or about to be moved onto one are likely to see their bills increase.

Peter Earl, head of energy at, said: “This research highlights one of the fundamental issues with the energy market – a large proportion of the UK don’t understand what tariff they are on and how much they should be paying for it.

“Many people who don’t understand energy tariffs are unfortunately unaware of the consequences of not knowing.

“Even if you are one of the growing group of energy shoppers looking to save money on their energy bills, you may fall into the trap of forgetting when your fixed deal comes to an end.

He added: “Ofgem has introduced new principles around customer communications, instructing energy companies to make it clear to households when their tariff is due to expire. We hope that Ofgem will police these new regulations rigorously.”

There are 0 Comment(s)

If you wish to comment without signing in, click your cursor in the top box and tick the 'Sign in as a guest' box at the bottom.

The savings accounts paying the most interest

If one of your jobs this month is to get your finances in order, moving your savings to a higher paying deal i...

Coronavirus and your finances: what help can you get?

News and updates on everything to do with coronavirus and your personal finances.

Everything you need to know about being furloughed

If you’ve been ‘furloughed’ by your company, here’s what it means…

What will happen if rates change

How your finances will be impacted by a rise in interest rates.

Regular Savings Calculator

Small regular contributions can build up nicely over time.

Online Savings Calculator

Work out how your online savings can build over time.

Having a baby and your finances: seven top tips

We’re guessing the Duchess of Cambridge won’t be fretting about maternity pay or whether she’ll still be...

Protecting family wealth: 10 tips for cutting inheritance tax

Inheritance tax - sometimes known as 'death tax' - can cause even more heartache for bereaved families. But th...

Travel insurance: Five tips to ensure a successful claim

Ahead of your summer holiday, it’s important to make sure you have the right level of travel cover or you co...

Money Tips of the Week

Read previous post:
Brits splash out more than £8.2bn attending weddings

Wedding guests fork out more than £300 for each wedding they attend, according to research from Policy Expert.