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Fixed price energy customers: don't get caught out

01 October 2009 / by Rachael Stiles

Households coming to the end of fixed rate energy tariffs should make sure they switch to a competitive deal so that they do not revert to their provider's standard tariff, has warned.

Last year there was a mad rush for the best fixed rate deals as wholesale energy prices rose and industry experts warned of significant hikes in the price of gas and electricity.

One in 5 customers opted for a fixed energy tariff, thus protecting themselves from what was to come – an average 42 per cent increase in household energy bills.

But now that wholesale energy prices have started falling, and many of the fixed rate deals will have ended recently or will soon come to an end, is urging households to find an alternative deal as soon as possible or they could see their energy bills rise rignificantly.

If energy customers are too complacent, the price comparison website warns, they could find themselves stuck on a provider's expensive standard tariff, and several gas and electricity providers are starting to charge an exit fee if the customer moves after a certain length of time has passed.

This means that it is more important than ever for consumers to compare prices and switch energy provider as soon as their deal comes to an end, and to find out what tariff they will be switched to when their fixed rate period ends.

ScottishPower, for example, has introduced a £50 penalty for customers who try to switch after being automatically put on their default tariff – those whose tariffs ended at the end of August have until 15 October to move, else they will be trapped.

Gareth Kloet, head of utilities at commented: "Those savvy customers who fixed their energy bills last year, now need to make another decision about what to do in order to continue to save money. Luckily there are a number of very competitive tariffs currently available."
Mr Kloet encourages consumers to shop around and compare gas and electricity deals to find the cheapest and most appropriate one for them. Other ways of saving include choosing a dual fuel tariff, paying by direct debit, and signing up for an online account, which can save up to 13 per cent on standard tariffs alone.

Price comaparison websites are the best way to shop around, he said, as they "make it quick and easy to pick the most appropriate tariff for your individual needs. And once you've made the switch online, your new energy supplier will do all the hard work for you during the changeover."

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