Choosing best energy tariff

Hand switching on a light switch

When it comes to choosing your energy tariff, do you know your dual fuel from single fuel? Fixed rate from variable rate? And what about the type of meter you have? These common energy terms can determine what tariff is best for you. And best doesn't always mean the cheapest because your energy use is unique to you. 

If you know what you're looking for, then get your electricity and gas quote

What is dual fuel energy tariff and is it better?

A dual fuel tariff means you get both gas and electricity from one supplier. Single fuel means you get just one of either gas or electricity from one supplier. So you could have two suppliers – one for gas and one for electricity. The most common combination of fuel in people’s homes is gas and electricity.

The helpful thing with dual fuel tariff, getting both from one provider, is that it's easier to manage your energy account as everything is in one place and any queries can be sorted by one contact. Dual fuel can often be cheaper too as you can get extra discounts when taking both electricity and gas from the same supplier. 

 

So, in a nutshell, dual fuel can be better because:

  • You can sort any energy queries with one contact to the same provider, instead of two
  • It's usually cheaper as you can get an extra discount

 

 

Fixed rate energy tariffs - pros and cons

These will have a set price for the energy you use over a certain time period – often one to two years but can be longer. Suppliers will normally offer lower prices for these tariffs because you’re making a commitment to them. They're normally available for dual fuel and single fuel but dual fuel fixed tariffs often come as better deals. Some energy providers even offer some nice features when you sign up, such as smart home tech or boiler insurance. 

It's worth remembering that it's the tariff rate that's fixed and not your monthly payments. What that means is that if your energy use goes up (or down) significantly, your monthly bills would change to reflect that. However, a fixed tariff would give you the reassurance that any market and industry price changes would not affect you. 

 

Fixed tariff pros:

  • You’ll pay the same rate for the amount of time you're on the tariff

  • You won't be affected by price rises

  • You usually get a lower price

  • You’re not constantly shopping around for the best deal

 

Fixed tariff cons:

  • If energy prices go down, your price will stay the same
  • There are sometimes fees (known as exit fees) if you want to leave your tariff earlier than the contract end date
  • You might be looking at a more expensive deal when your fixed rate period comes to an end

 

Is it worth getting a fixed energy tariff?

A fixed tariff gives you peace of mind and makes it easier to budget. You'll pay a fixed price for your energy, so if wholesale prices go up, the price you pay stays the same for the length of your contract. 

Most fixed deals will include an exit fee if you end your contract early. With EDF, you'll pay an exit fee if you leave your tariff with more than 49 days to go on your contract. If your tariff ends in less than 49 days though, you won't have to pay. 

So, by fixing your energy prices you know how much you're paying, you're protected from future price rises for the length of your fixed deal and you may save money in the long term. 

 

 

Standard variable rate energy tariff - pros and cons

If you don’t mind prices going up or down and are prepared to shop around more regularly, a standard variable rate could be your best option.

These tariffs will track the market rate for the energy you pay. If prices change, your supplier has to let you know at least 30 days before it happens so you can decide if you’d like to switch, usually with no exit fee. 

Standard variable tariffs' rates will fluctuate based on what's happening on the market and a lot of people who are on these tariffs, haven't switched in a long time. If that's you, be sure to compare prices and see if you can get a better deal. 

Another thing to remember about standard variable tariffs is that they're affected by Ofgem's price cap. This means there's a cap on how much providers can charge customers, even if the market prices go up drastically. Although it sounds good at face value, this is often (although not always) more than what you'd pay on a fixed tariff. 

 

Standard variable tariff pros:

  • You’ll be the first to benefit from price decreases
  • No exit fees

Standard variable tariff cons:

  • Energy price rises will affect you
  • You’ll have to pay different amounts in line with market price changes
  • There are rarely any special offers or deals available

 

Shall I go for a variable energy tariff?

On a standard variable tariff, the price you pay for your energy can go up and down. You're not protected from what's happening in the energy market and your payments will change depending on wholesale costs, so budgeting isn't as easy as on a fixed tariff. 

That said, if you like to switch tariffs or energy companies regularly, and don't want to pay exit fees, a variable might be for you. There's no end date, no fixed term, and no commitment so it's easy to switch. Your prices can fluctuate though, so you'll need to keep an eye on the energy market. 

 

Your energy meter type and tariffs

Another thing that could determine the tariffs available to you is whether you have a prepayment, standard or smart meter.

 

Prepayment meter energy tariffs

If you have a prepayment meter, also knows as top-up meter, there may be fewer tariffs available to you. Some suppliers may not even have any energy deals for prepayment meters. Be sure to have a look at our prepayment tariffs.  

 

Standard meter energy tariffs

These are the most common types of meters in the UK and won't restrict what kind of tariff you can get. They generally mean you'll get billed monthly for the amount you use or an estimate of what you use. In order to get the most accurate bill, you'll usually need to send regular meter readings to your energy supplier.


Picking a new tariff with a smart meter

Smart meters help you manage your energy better, mainly because you get a monitor that shows you how and when you're using your energy. They also automatically send meter readings to the supplier.

Having a smart meter won't restrict what tariff you can have. If you're switching suppliers, however, make sure your smart meter can still work in the smart mode although most of the time, you should be fine. Sometimes you may even find a tariff that's specific to smart meters only. 

 

Shall I get a smart meter?

A smart meter is a great way to see what you're spending in pounds and pence on your energy, and it comes at no extra cost. It also sends us your meter readings automatically, so you can get more accurate bills without leaving the sofa. 

You can also see your energy use in real-time on the handy in-home display. This could help you make small changes to reduce your energy use and your bills. Plus EDF customers get access to our unique Energy Hub Service. Nearly a third of the Hub users say it's helped them reduce their energy use. 

 


Online-only energy deals

Make the most of online-only energy tariffs which will often give you the best deals. Online-only tariffs mean cheaper prices because you don't need to use call centre support and your bills are all online. It's easier for you to manage your energy too as you can access your account from anywhere 24/7. 

If you switch to EDF, you can access your energy details through MyAccount, where you can see your tariff details and bills, switch your tariffs and submit meter readings. 

 

Is an online energy tariff for me?

An online-only tariff means you won't get call centre support, but you can access your account online from anywhere 24/7. It's usually cheaper too. Instead of calling us, you can use our award-winning app or go online to:

  • Manage your energy in MyAccount
  • Get support by chat, WhatsApp or SMS
  • See your bills, updates and notifications in the app or by email and text
  • Manager you payments

Online-only isn't for everyone though. If you prefer talking to us on the phone or need a little extra help managing your account, you might want to opt for a full service tariff. 

 


Choice of energy bill payments

Setting up a Direct Debit makes things easy for you because you won’t have to remember to contact your supplier each time you need to pay. The supplier will also estimate your energy use and spread the cost into equal monthly payments, avoiding large payments in winter.

Sometimes, you may even get a cheaper energy deal paying this way. Find out more about how your energy Direct Debit works, how the bill is reviewed and why it's easier to manage payment. 

 

Shall I pay for my electricity and gas by direct debit?

Most of our customers choose to pay by Direct Debit - it's an easy way to pay for your energy and a good way to budget. If you set up a Direct Debit, an agreed amount will be taken from your bank account each month on the date of your choice. 

With Direct Debit you can spread the cost of your energy across the year to even out your payments, or send a meter reading each month to only pay for what you use. Plus, our customers save around £80(1) a year paying by Direct Debit. 

 

Electricity tariff for your electric car

There's now a good selection of electric tariffs for EVs and some are very competitive. Consider when you're most likely to charge your car at home and look at tariffs that offer cheaper electricity when it suits you and your needs. This may seem a bit more complicated than your traditional home tariff but really, it's just thinking more about how you use your energy and choosing a tariff that works for you. It's definitely worth it! 

Have a look at our GoElectric tariffs for EV owners

 

 

Green energy credentials

Most energy companies are investing in renewable, green or zero carbon energy. This should be important to all of us, as we're looking to reduce the UK carbon emissions to zero. However, some of these claims may be less 'green' than others and the energy you actually get may not necessarily be what it seems. So make sure you look into what it is a supplier is actually offering. 

Here are EDF all our tariffs are back by zero carbon electricity as standard(2). So the best kind of tariff is one that suits you and your lifestyle and energy use. 

 

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