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How to pick a utility provider

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20/05/2015
It’s common knowledge that switching utility providers could save you a bundle, but how do you pick the right provider for you?

With independent providers taking the market by storm, you may feel overwhelmed by your options. Here’s how to choose:

Price first

The main purpose of switching your energy provider should be saving some serious dough, so price should be the first consideration.

The amount of money you can save is truly staggering, often totalling hundreds of pounds every year. As increased competition takes hold the cheapest fixed tariffs on the market are now well below £1,000, but not every household will be eligible.
To find a new tariff at the best possible price visit a comparison site. By entering the size of your home and your energy usage you’ll be able to see an accurate quote alongside an estimation your current annual bill. The difference can be huge.

Customer service

Energy companies are notorious when it comes to customer service. From late and missing bills to unacceptable hold times, nary a week goes by without regulator Ofgem calling out one provider or another.

While Ofgem recently slated the small and large companies alike for their poor customers service, research by uSwitch.com found that independent energy providers Ovo and First Utility performed better than the ‘Big Six’ providers, though all larger companies except for Scottish Power have improved their customer service over the last year.

The highest ranked company, Ovo Energy, had a customer satisfaction score of 86 per cent compared with bottom-ranked Npower’s 58 per cent.

Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, said: “These results prove that smaller providers are setting a high bar when it comes to customer satisfaction. It’s encouraging to see the big six continuing to move in the right direction, but it’s hugely disappointing that so many of their customers remain dissatisfied.”

How to switch

Switching utility providers has never been simpler or faster. To get started check whether you have an exit fee – it may be more cost-effective to ride out your contract with your current provider than to pay a hefty fine for leaving.

If you still want to go ahead with the switch, enter your information on a comparison site and select a new provider. Your new utility company will take care of everything. Keep in mind that you’ll still need to pay any remaining bills with your old provider and submit reading to your new one when requested. Your account will be switched within the next two to six weeks.

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