Sunday, 6 April 2014

My three-year fixed-price energy deal

On 23rd February, some weeks ago now, and before SSE announced their commitment to freeze their ordinary energy prices for domestic customers over the next two years, I looked into their offer of a three-year fixed price deal.

I thought about it carefully. Over the next three years my prime financial goal is to build up a few thousand in my savings account. I absolutely must have a realistic Emergency Fund, to pay for whatever is likely to happen to the house, the caravan, or the car, that may not be covered by insurance. For instance, the costs of a central heating repair, or unexpected tyre replacements. At the moment, my Emergency Fund bumps along at a few hundred pounds: not nearly enough. A few thousand - let's say £5,000 - would bring much more peace of mind!

To save successfully, my big household bills must be under tight control. If there is a sudden hike in energy costs, it will ruin my financial plans! I think that ongoing disquiet about Russian intentions will make gas generally more expensive. American gas shipments may guarantee a supply, but they won't be a cheap substitute. It would be so nice to anticipate oodles of low-cost home-produced gas and electricity from fracking and wind-farms - and no doubt there will be in ten year's time - but I think it's not going to come about within the next three years.

So a way of freezing current supply prices for a bit seems a jolly sensible idea. And not just for the two years proudly announced last month by SSE. Let's make it three years, and with a can't-back-out-of-it fixed price contract to make the deal stick.

Call me cynical, but I don't trust proud announcements. SSE has done the expedient public-relations thing, taking the puff out of Labour's pledge to fix energy prices by government decree, but how will it resist the necessity to renege on its shiny new pricing policy if market conditions get out of control? I don't want to rely on a policy - I want a proper deal.

I'm happy to stay with SSE (Southern Electric, that is) for now, and not try changing supplier. I've found them very reasonable about accepting my own forward estimates of what my energy consumption will be - in effect trusting me to set my own monthly payments. Naturally I keep spreadsheets to show me what I have consumed over the years, and it's a remarkably stable and predictable picture. It's bound to be, if one lives a regular life, and is the only householder. So when I applied online in February, and suggested what my monthly direct debits should be in a three-year deal lasting until 31st March 2017, I didn't expect a challenge. Nor was there one. It took Southern Electric a month however to send their letter of agreement - they must have had a flood of similar applications. But it's now in the bag. Yep, there it is when I go online to check the details of my payment plan.

If you're interested, I'll be paying £28 per month for electricity, and £99 per month for gas. Some would say that's quite a lot for one person, but I like to be generous with light and heat. It's a cheerless life if you can't be comfortable. I'm no fan of thick jumpers and mittens. I want the ability to prance around in the nude when it's frosty outside, as if on a summer's beach...not that I do much prancing, of course.

So: will I spend the next three years, or at least the year to 31st March 2017, looking revoltingly smug as prices inevitably edge up?

Only time will tell. It's a gamble really - but I believe it's a fairly safe one to take, looking at the electricity and gas supply situation in the spring of 2014.

1 comment:

  1. I have had my fuel prices frozen for quite a few years now Lucy. When it is time for a renewal I opt in again. I cannot make direct comparisons with your deal as our house is larger with two people in it for the most time and we are with a different supplier, BG for both services. We pay £129 and £75 for gas and electricity respectively per month by DD. We had smart meters fitted a couple of weeks ago so we can if we wish keep track but we don't use the gadget (a remote screen). I think it a good idea to have prices frozen as they are hardly ever likely to come down are they and may well rise?

    Shirley Anne x


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