Winter is here, it’s official. My skinted colleague Charlotte has already forked out for a new boiler and I’m watching my gas meter tick up. Minted HQ is a draughty old place and costs zillions to heat so I’m always on the lookout for ways to save.
Like most people, I’ve grasped the idea of searching for the cheapest deals on comparison websites such as uSwitch* and Confused.com. I regularly save four figures on my energy bill – see my past blog here – by switching to a new provider and avoiding getting stuck on my current supplier’s standard tariff after my deal has ended.
But it’s a huge faff. I need to work out my annual energy usage and tap it into the comparison website, then sift through what’s available. There are often great deals from companies whose names I don’t recognise. I need to do research to see if they are solid firms and so on, and on, and on.
Mercifully there are now people who will do this for me. You simply give your details to a service such as weflip, a new auto-switcher from GoCompare, and the algorithms magically switch you to the best deals as they become available.
How many times you get switched depends on the firm. weflip will only move you if the saving is £50 or more after exit fees, for example. Meanwhile switchcraft will only move you every three months, no matter what’s available, while Cheap Energy Club (part of MoneySavingExpert) merely alerts you and shows you the deals. Charlotte uses this - but it means she has to do the admin herself.
There’s also an issue about who pays for the switching. Most auto-switchers get paid a small commission by the energy firms for introducing new customers. This does make me wonder about ultimately whose interests they’re really promoting, especially as most comparison websites only work with a select group of energy suppliers.
If you’re worried about it, you could look at Flipper which charges you £25 a year and only after you’ve made a £50 saving. This kind of arrangement allows Flipper to scour every eligible deal (or so they claim) in the market, not just those from their panel.
My current deal ends in the summer so I’ll have to wait to get onboard with one of these schemes. Until then, I’ll be turning down the thermostat and Michelin-manning my way around the house. Pass the thermals, will you?
See our SMM guide to powering down on energy bills here.