Energy tariffs explained

We’ve explained the most popular tariffs below. Knowing the differences will help save you money when you switch.

Do you know the difference between fixed or variable tariffs? These are the two main types of energy tariff. All of the other terms you see thrown around by suppliers describe features of a given tariff. Read on to find out more, or if you’re ready to compare and find the best deal, just enter your postcode below.

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  • Fixed

This tariff offers a guaranteed, unchanging rate. It usually has a defined end date. These tariffs tend to be cheapest, but you’ll usually be rolled onto the suppliers ‘variable’ tariff at the end of your contract (which is usually more expensive).

The best tactic to save money is to constantly switch at the end of each contract.

  • Variable

This is the tariff most people are on. It rolls on, with no end date. The prices aren’t fixed so they can vary with the price of energy, as seen with British Gas’s recent price hike. Check out our guide to see how it has affected you.

These are supplier’s default tariffs, usually with poor rates. Luckily they aren’t legally allowed to charge exit fees, so you’re free to switch whenever you want.

  • Dual Fuel

Dual Fuel simply means you get both gas and electricity from one supplier. This is pretty common, because it tends to be easiest for customers. Paying one bill rather than two is a big benefit.

Dual fuel tariffs aren’t guaranteed to be the best value, however.

  • Online

Increasingly, energy tariffs are referred to as ‘online’. This just means they’re paperless. You get emailed everything, or you can login and check things via an app. You might be required to pay online too.

These can sometimes be cheaper, as suppliers have less managing to do than with a paper bill.

  • Green

A green tariff is one of two things. Either the supplier will match your usage with energy generate from green sources, or it will contribute to green schemes on your behalf.

  • Prepayment

These tariffs require you to top up your meter with a key, card or a token. These tend to be the most expensive types of tariff.

  • Feed-in-tariffs

The Feed-in Tariffs (FIT) scheme is a government initiative which aims to increase renewable usage and promote low-carbon technologies. designed to promote the uptake of renewable and low-carbon electricity generation technologies.

The scheme offers cash payments to households who generate their own electricity with methods like wind or solar power.

Follow our step-by-step guide to switching supplier

Other energy guides

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