UK: New power to the consumer.

UK: New power to the consumer. - The number of energy suppliers is increasing - so shop around.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The number of energy suppliers is increasing - so shop around.

Deregulation of the electricity and gas industries has resulted in prices falling in real terms by 20% or more. By now, you have probably been inundated with offers of ever better, cheaper services from your area supplier and the legions of new pretenders.

It is debatable whether it is worth changing supplier where your total bills are less than £400 per quarter. For bills in excess of this, call at least two alternative suppliers to see what they can offer in terms of price and other financial benefits and calculate not only the cost per unit of the utility itself but also standing charges, capacity and availability charges, seasonal, evening and weekend rates.

If you do change supplier, contact details for all approved suppliers can be obtained from the regulators Offer (0121 456 2100) and Ofgas (0171 828 0898), which recommend the following questions:

- How much will the supply cost and how is the bill itemised?

- What are the payment terms offered?

- How long will the contract last and will there be penalties on termination?

- To whom should you talk if you have a query or complaint?

- Does the quotation include all sites or bills charged currently and will it account for changes such as new buildings?

- Does it account for different methods of operation?

- Is the bill in a convenient form: identifying cost centres, the unit price charged at each location and group discounts, for example?

Energy-saving advice will also save money. Contact the utility suppliers, government-supported agencies Etsu (01235 436747) and Brecsu (01923 664258), and your local Energy Advice Centres (0171 931 8401).

If you have a question you would like one of our experts to address, write to SME, 174 Hammersmith Road, London W6 7JP.

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