Best cheap energy deals: fixed rate and variable rate energy offers September 2021

·7-min read
 (Pexels)
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It’s always a good time to think about switching energy provider. It means you could start paying less for your gas and electricity and take some heat off your bank account.

We’ve listed the cheapest deals on the market below. These are dual fuel tariffs, where you get your gas and electricity from the same supplier, and the prices are for average households for a year.

You can run a quotation on our energy page to get a list of deals for your particular home situation. You just need to tell us a bit about where you live and how much energy you use - you can find this information on a recent bill. The process takes about 5 to 10 minutes, and the switch itself will be complete in 21 days or less.

Fixed rate tariffs lock in the price per unit of energy for a stated period - usually 12 months. That protects you from any upward increase in energy prices for the duration of the tariff, although by the same token you wouldn’t see any benefit if prices dropped.

Variable rate tariffs can rise or fall depending on the wholesale price of energy - these deals are open-ended, so you stay on them until you decide to move.

With a fixed rate, it’s best to switch again as your existing tariff comes to an end. If you don’t, your provider will move you onto a ‘default’ tariff with a variable rate, and you could see your prices shoot up as a result.

At the moment, energy prices on the wholesale markets are soaring. This is where our suppliers buy energy, and they will inevitably pass the cost on to us in due course. That makes it important to think about switching sooner rather than later - although if you’re already on a fixed rate deal, take care to avoid any exit fees by delaying switching until you’re within six weeks of your current tariff coming to an end.

Top 10 cheapest fixed rate energy deals

Supplier

Tariff

Price per annum (£)*

Spark Energy

Tili Select Saver - Sept 2021

£1,066.86

ScottishPower

Greener Future April 2022 IM2

£1,089.98

ScottishPower

Exclusive Green Fixed Price May 2022 SM1

£1,090.09

ScottishPower

Exclusive HelpBeatCancer FixedSaver Aug2023 Online

£1,144.99

Shell Energy

Energy February 2023 plus Solar Credits

£1,148.92

Pure Planet

100% Green Exclusive 24m Fixed Aug21 v1

£1,246.27

Utility Warehouse

Green Fix 15

£1,249.95

Zebra Power

Zebra 24 Months V11 Paperless

£1,269.43

Zebra Power

Zebra Fixed 24 Month Exclusive V9 Paperless

£1,273.08

Outfox the Market

Fix'd 12m Sep21 v1

£1,293.84

*Cheapest deals based on dual fuel fixed rate tariffs for an Ofgem-defined ‘medium user’, paying by monthly direct debit. Note, these may not be available in every region of the UK. Prices as at 22/09/21. Source: Comparison Technologies

Top 10 cheapest variable rate energy deals

Supplier

Tariff

Price per annum (£)*

Utility Warehouse

Double Gold

£1,081.25

Entice Energy

Flexible Saver v3

£1,103.63

Utility Warehouse

Gold

£1,109.71

Affect Energy

Affect Standard Tariff

£1,125.69

Co-op Energy

Co-op Flexible

£1,125.69

Ebico Living

Ebico Standard

£1,125.69

Octopus Energy

Flexible Octopus

£1,125.69

Utility Warehouse

Value

£1,132.14

ESB Energy

Variable

£1,134.34

M&S Energy

M&S Everyday Energy

£1,135.69

*Cheapest deals based on dual fuel variable rate tariffs for an Ofgem-defined ‘medium user’, paying by monthly direct debit. Note, these may not be available in every region of the UK. Prices at 22/09/21. Source: Comparison Technologies

Should you choose a fixed rate or variable rate tariff?

That depends on a few things. First is price. When you run an energy price quotation, you may see a fixed or variable rate deal come top of the table as the cheapest deal.

If it’s a fixed rate, the price will be locked in for the term of the contract, which will also be fixed (usually for 12 months). That’s attractive to some people, because they can budget for the year ahead without having to worry about price hikes.

If it’s a variable rate, the price can go up or down at any point, and it’s an open-ended contract. So you may start off lower than with a fixed rate, but you could see prices edge up over the coming months.

This could result from increases in wholesale energy prices, which would get passed on to you. And then there’s the forthcoming hike in the energy price cap on 1 October. More on this below.

Prices could reduce on a variable rate deal - but given current energy market conditions, most commentators think an increase is more likely.

When is the best time to switch suppliers?

The short answer is, there is no bad time to switch energy suppliers if you can save money by doing so.

If you’ve never switched or haven’t done so for a couple of years, chances are you’re on a variable rate ‘default’ tariff at the moment. It’s almost certain you’ll be able to find a cheaper alternative - probably a fixed rate deal which locks in the price for 12 months, protecting you from any hikes during that term.

This is important at the moment because, if you switch soon, you will limit the amount of time you spend on a higher price after cost go up on 1 October to reflect the increase in the Ofgem price cap. Remember, it can take up to 21 days for a switch to go through.

What effect does the price cap have on my energy bills?

The energy price cap is set by Ofgem, the market regulator. It places a ceiling on how much you can be charged per unit of energy you use if you’re on a variable rate tariff.

For medium energy users, the current cap is £1,138 a year, but this rises by £139 to £1,277 from 1 October 2021 (which will be the cap’s highest-ever level). If you are on a default variable rate deal that’s subject to the cap, it’s well worth running an energy quotation to see if you can get a deal for less than the cap amount.

What are exit fees?

Some fixed rate deals have exit fees built in, usually at £25 or £30 each for gas and electricity. They’re there to deter you from switching to another deal during the original term of the contract.

Two things to note. First, if the annual saving you can achieve from switching is more than what you’ve be charged in fees, it can make sense to go ahead anyway.

And second - you won’t be charged any exit fees once you get to within six weeks of your contract’s end date. This gives you sufficient time to initiate another switch and move to you next deal without penalty.

Can I switch energy if I’m in debt to my current supplier?

Yes, provided you haven’t had the debt for more than 28 days and you have a credit meter, where you settle your bills in arrears.

So if you pay by monthly direct debit, you should be clear to switch because your regular payments should keep you in the black. Anything you owe that’s built up in the last 28 days will be added to your final bill. But if you’ve accumulated debt that’s more than 28 days old, you’ll need to clear it before you can switch.

With a prepayment meter, you can switch provided you don’t owe more than £500 for electricity and £500 for gas. If you owe less than these amounts, the debt can be transferred to your new supplier under what’s known as the Debt Assignment Protocol. So you’ll still need to clear the debt by paying your new energy firm.

Can I switch suppliers if I am renting?

If you’re name is on the bill, yes - but probably best to tell your landlord as a courtesy.

If your landlord pays and the cost is part of your rent, you can’t switch yourself, but you ask them to switch if you think there are savings to be had.

How long does it take to switch suppliers?

Finding a deal you want to switch to should take no more than 10 minutes using our comparison service (have a recent bill to hand if possible). Once you select your new supplier, they’ll take of the admin. You’ll just need to send final bill readings when asked. You should be on your new deal within 21 days, including your 14-day cooling off period, during which you can pull out of the switch without penalty.

Read More

Best energy suppliers 2021

How to understand your energy bills

What is a ‘green’ energy tariff?

Guide to fixed-price energy tariffs

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