Saturday, 5 July 2008

Comparison Websites

Gas and electricity

When using a comparison site for a cheaper gas and electricity supplier it is important that you are searching all available tariffs, not just the ones that have commercial arrangements with the comparison site.

Last September price comparison website uSwitch risked having its Energywatch industry accreditation removed. The site had excluded British Gas, a company which pays no commission to uSwitch, from its default comparison tables.

When searching for switching deals users had to click 'No' next to the option to see 'only plans you can switch to with uSwitch' in order to see British Gas. USwitch relented and changed the default option from 'Yes' to 'No', but there is still room for confusion.

Another thing to watch out for is distortion of comparisons when energy companies are in a round of price changes. It usually tends to happen every three to six months. This is Money's fuel bills latest advice round-up will warn you of this.

In May, British Gas predicted that energy prices may rise, perhaps by as much as 30% in 2008. For this reason, fixed price tariffs, where prices are frozen for a period, could prove better value. However, many comparison websites do not differentiate between fixed price tariffs.

Suppliers often offer their cheapest prices through online tariffs. We advise that if you are looking to switch suppliers you use both comparison sites and energy suppliers directly when conducting research - start by asking your existing supplier to give you a better rate.
By Tara Evans

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