Monday, 29 January 2018

Home energy

My three-year fixed dual-fuel deal with SSE was almost up. It would come to an end on 13th May, so there were still a few weeks to go, but I'd just had my January Electricity and Gas bills, and they had put me in mind of jumping into a fresh fixed deal if SSE had a decent one on offer.

Taking a broader view, was this a good time to enter into a long-term contract at a fixed price? Well, there was presently no global crisis in energy supplies, and UK domestic energy prices seemed to be on a mild downward trend at the beginning of 2018. It might continue; but I considered it prudent to get into a new contract while prices were still 'low'.

How things turn out is always a gamble, and if energy prices went down further by May, I'd have lost out a bit. But SSE's one-year fixed dual-fuel deal (the only fixed deal they were offering) would save me £8 a month immediately. And no penalty for getting out of the existing contract early. Good enough, when my main concern with big regular bills like electricity and gas was to keep the monthly cost smooth and level.

I did have a look at what the uSwitch comparison website had to suggest. There were certainly some attractive annual savings to had, if I signed up with one of those small new-to-the-market energy supply companies, or even with the likes of nPower, E-on and British Gas. But chasing after monumental savings wasn't a priority. Besides, I was suspicious of uSwitch's selection - did a low-cost tariff indicate background staff savings, and poor customer service? Would I be letting myself in for all kinds of irritating hassle? Common sense suggested this might be true.

SSE had never given me any problems. They had very efficiently installed a 'smart meter' back in October 2016, and I wanted this to carry on working properly. I'd heard that changing supply companies generally meant that the smart meter lost functionality, such as the automatic reporting of energy consumption online (and if that happened, I'd suffer a big loss in convenience). It was in fact a strong disincentive to switching to another supplier.

The latest January electricity and gas bills from SSE - downloaded - showed me mildly in credit with both fuels. This was another factor that made me stay with them. Those credit balances wouldn't get orphaned and overlooked if SSE continued to have my custom.

So yesterday I did the deed. It's SSE for another year.

And that £8 a month will all go into my savings account.

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