Cheapest Gas and Electric Suppliers in the UK: A Full Guide
29 May, 2023
7 mins read
Tips and Advice
As a prospective student in the UK, learning about the ins and outs of living in the country is essential; these include accommodation, transportation, and general living costs. With energy costs being a significant concern for students wanting to study and live in the UK, finding the most affordable gas and electric suppliers is crucial. Fortunately, the UK energy market is competitive, allowing consumers to choose from a range of providers.
In this guide, we will explore some of the cheapest gas and electric suppliers in the UK, providing you with valuable information to help you make an informed decision and potentially save money on your energy bills.
General Living Costs in the UK
The average cost of living in the UK varies depending on various factors, such as location, lifestyle choices, and individual circumstances. Generally, living in the UK can be quite expensive compared to other countries. The largest expenses for most students are student accommodation, transportation, and food.
Renting a one-bedroom apartment in a city centre can cost anywhere between £800 and £1,500 per month, while outside the city, it can range from £600 to £1,000. Utility bills, including electricity, heating, water, and internet, can add up to around £150 to £200 per month.
Transportation costs, including public transport or owning a car, can vary, but a monthly travel pass in a major city typically costs around £100 to £150. Groceries and dining out can also be significant expenses, with a monthly food budget ranging from £200 to £400 depending on personal preferences. Other expenses, such as healthcare, insurance, and entertainment, should also be taken into account when considering the overall cost of living in the UK.
Note that there are some ways to reduce cost of living in the UK, including choosing the right energy supplier.
Understanding the UK Energy Market
Before diving into the cheapest suppliers, it's important to understand the structure of the UK energy market. The market is divided into two segments: the wholesale market and the retail market. Wholesale energy prices fluctuate based on factors like supply and demand, global events, and weather conditions. Retail suppliers purchase energy in bulk from the wholesale market and sell it to consumers, setting their own prices and tariffs.
Energy Price Rises
Energy prices in the UK have been experiencing a significant increase. There are several factors contributing to this rise. Firstly, the reliance on natural gas as the primary source of electricity generation in the country has played a role. Natural gas prices have been on the rise globally, and since it is a major component in energy production, its cost directly impacts electricity prices.
Furthermore, the UK has been transitioning towards renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. While this shift is positive for environmental reasons, the initial investments and infrastructure development required for renewable energy generation have added to the overall energy costs.
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Why Switch Gas and Electric Suppliers in the UK
There are several reasons why individuals in the UK might consider switching gas and energy suppliers. Some key factors include:
1. Cost savings
One of the primary motivations for switching suppliers is to save money on energy bills. Different suppliers offer varying rates and tariffs, and by comparing options, consumers can find better deals and potentially reduce their energy costs.
2. Fixed-Rate Tariffs
Some suppliers offer fixed-rate tariffs, where the price per unit of energy remains consistent for a specific period, typically 1–3 years. This can provide stability and protection against price increases in the volatile energy market.
3. Green Energy Options
Many consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their energy consumption. Individuals can support a cleaner and more sustainable energy sector by switching to suppliers that offer renewable or green energy options.
4. Improved Contract Terms
Switching suppliers provides an opportunity to review and select contracts that align with specific preferences and requirements. This includes considering factors such as contract length, payment options, and billing frequency.
Affordable Gas and Electric Suppliers in the UK
1. Octopus Energy
Octopus Energy has gained popularity in recent years for its competitive pricing and excellent customer service. They offer a range of tariffs, including fixed and variable plans, ensuring customer flexibility. Their commitment to renewable energy sources also makes them an attractive choice for eco-conscious consumers.
2. Avro Energy
Avro Energy is known for its straightforward and transparent pricing. They offer simple tariffs with no hidden charges or exit fees, making them an appealing option for budget-conscious consumers. Avro Energy also provides competitive rates for both gas and electricity.
3. Shell Energy
Shell Energy is a well-known brand that has expanded into the UK energy market. They offer affordable tariffs for both gas and electricity and provide customers with access to the Shell Go+ loyalty programme, which offers various discounts and benefits.
E.ON is a prominent supplier that offers various tariffs, including fixed-rate and flexible plans. They provide competitive rates for electricity and have a strong focus on renewable energy, making them a popular choice for eco-friendly consumers. E.ON also offers innovative solutions like smart metres and energy-efficient products.
ScottishPower is another major supplier that offers affordable electricity tariffs. They have a range of options, including fixed-rate plans and green energy tariffs. ScottishPower also provides customers with access to its Rewards programme, offering discounts on entertainment, dining, and more.
Unit Cost per kWh in the UK
The unit cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in the UK varies depending on several factors, including the energy supplier, the type of tariff, and the region. Here is the average cost of electricity per kWh in the UK for 3 of the most affordable energy suppliers:
Unit Rate (p/kWh)
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How to Choose the Best Energy Suppliers
Choosing the best energy supplier involves considering various factors to ensure that the supplier meets your specific needs and preferences. Here are some key steps to help you make an informed decision:
1. Research and Compare Suppliers
Start by researching and comparing different energy suppliers in your area. Look for reputable companies with a track record of reliable service and positive customer reviews. Consider factors such as pricing, customer satisfaction ratings, renewable energy options, and additional services they offer.
2. Determine Your Priorities
Identify your priorities and preferences. Are you primarily focused on finding the lowest price or prioritising renewable energy options? Consider factors such as customer service, billing methods, online account management, and any specific requirements you may have.
3. Compare Tariffs and Pricing
Energy suppliers offer various tariffs and pricing structures. Compare the unit cost per kWh, standing charges, and any additional fees or discounts associated with different tariffs. Look for transparent and competitive pricing that suits your energy consumption patterns and budget.
4. Consider Contract Terms
Review the contract terms offered by each supplier. Pay attention to the contract length, exit fees, and any terms and conditions that may impact your flexibility as a customer. Ensure that the supplier's contract terms align with your preferences and requirements.
5. Check Customer Service and Support
Reliable customer service is crucial when dealing with energy suppliers. Research customer reviews and ratings to assess the level of customer satisfaction with a particular supplier. Consider factors such as ease of communication, responsiveness to queries or complaints, and support channels offered (phone, email, online chat, etc.).
Switching Energy Suppliers’ Process
Switching energy suppliers in the UK is a relatively straightforward process. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you understand the general process:
1. Choose A New Supplier
Once you have identified a suitable supplier, initiate the switching process by contacting them directly or visiting their website. Most suppliers have online forms or dedicated phone lines to assist with the switching process.
2. Provide Information
You will need to provide certain information to the new supplier to facilitate the switch. This may include your current energy supply details, metre readings, personal information, and your current supplier's name and account number.
3. Review the New Contract
The new supplier will provide you with a contract or agreement outlining the terms and conditions of your new energy supply. Read the contract carefully, paying attention to pricing, contract length, exit fees, and any special terms or conditions.
4. Cooling-Off Period
After you sign the contract, you typically have a 14-day cooling-off period during which you can change your mind and cancel the switch without any penalties.
5. Inform Your Current Supplier
Your new supplier will handle most of the switching process on your behalf, including notifying your current supplier of the switch. However, it's a good idea to inform your current supplier about your intention to switch to avoid any confusion.
6. Metre Readings
On the day of the switch, take metre readings for both your gas and electricity metres. This ensures accurate billing and prevents any disputes later on. Provide the metre readings to both your old and new suppliers.
7. Final Bill and Account Closure
After the switch, your previous supplier will issue a final bill based on the metre readings you provided. Pay any outstanding amount and ensure a smooth account closure.
It's important to note that the time it takes to complete the switch can vary, but it usually takes around 21 days from the initiation of the switch. During this period, your energy supply should not be interrupted, and both your old and new suppliers will keep you informed about the progress of the switch.
And there you have it!
Finding the cheapest gas and electric suppliers in the UK involves researching and comparing various options. Remember, it's not only about finding the cheapest supplier but also considering your specific energy needs, customer service quality, and any additional benefits or rewards programmes offered.
Always keep an eye on the energy market, as prices and deals change regularly. By staying informed and proactive, you can make the most cost-effective choices for your gas and electric supplies.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is Octopus still the cheapest energy supplier?
Octopus Energy has been known for competitive pricing, but energy prices can fluctuate over time. It's best to check current rates and compare them with those of other suppliers to determine if Octopus Energy remains the cheapest option.
Is it better to have a fixed or variable energy rate in 2023?
Choosing between fixed or variable energy rates depends on personal preferences and market conditions. Fixed rates offer stability and protection against price increases, while variable rates can fluctuate with market changes.
Is it worth getting a fixed energy tariff?
A fixed energy tariff provides price stability and protection against market fluctuations, which can be advantageous for budgeting and avoiding sudden price hikes. It offers peace of mind, especially if energy prices are expected to rise.
Will my gas and electricity be interrupted if I switch?
No, your gas and electricity supplies should not be interrupted during the switching process. The energy supply remains uninterrupted as the switch occurs between suppliers, and there is no physical change to your metre or infrastructure. Both your old and new suppliers should coordinate to ensure a seamless transition.
Which is the cheapest energy supplier in London?
Octopus Energy is considered one of the best and cheapest gas and electric suppliers in London.