We all know that prices change depending on where you are and/or where you live. For example, a vegetarian seared Ahi Salad with ginger sesame dressing is going to cost you more in a London restaurant than it is in Devon cafe, and many people assume that energy prices vary for the same reason, but there are numerous reasons why energy prices vary from one region to another.
What are the cheapest places in the UK?
There are no set rules on which regions have the cheapest or most expensive energy prices. It is not like petrol where you may visit a region and see markedly higher or lower prices. Energy prices are set in accordance to very precise rules. The power companies that sell energy to people in the UK must produce a fair percentage of the energy that is supplied into the UK national grid; you are not able to set up a business and start selling power if you are not adding your fair percentage to the UK national grid. There are situations where certain power companies can rent the use of power or gas, but that is for another article.
What are the most expensive?
The first and most simple rule is that companies with a power station in a certain region are able to charge the lowest rates in that area because other providers are penalized (for want of a better word) in a way that makes the competitor’s rates higher. That is the simple part, the tricky part is how energy companies are able to mask their prices with confusing terms and conditions.
For example, one company may brag that it has no standing charge for your meter, which means you are not charged a set amount each day for having gas or electricity. However, the standing charge does not disappear, the power company simply melds your charge into the regular-use rate.
For example, there are companies that claim they have a very low price per KW, but what they do not tell you is that their rates are tiered. This means you pay the super low price for your first 5,000KW, and then a super high price for your usage up to 75,000KW, and then another price for however much else you use.
In short, the companies with the most confusing terms and conditions are the companies with the highest prices. If it is easy to figure out your gas or electric bill, then the power company has very little to hide. If it is tricky to work out your power bill, then you need to be very careful how much energy you use (and when you use it) if you wish to avoid the highest prices.
According to uSwitch the variance in bills between regions can be as much as £62. In 2015, the areas of the UK with the highest bill were North Wales and Merseyside (£1,090 per annum) while residents in the East Midlands enjoyed the cheapest bills (£1,037 per annum).
What are some ways to improve energy efficiency?
- The most glaringly obvious (albeit not the most practical) way would be to not use your gas or electricity. There are people who walk around in their pyjamas and have the heating on semi-continuously, and there are people who keep their curtains closed and turn the lights on.
- Get an EPC, which is an inspection that provides you with a certificate. It comes with advisories on where you are losing heat and wasting energy. It will help identify the problem areas in your house.
- Otherwise, you should stick to the basics such as cavity wall insulation, attic and ceiling insulation, and LED bulbs in your light sockets. Don’t forget that exposed pipes (be they for hot or cold water) will cause your house to feel cold. For example, if you have water pipes running along the skirting board of your downstairs bathroom/toilet, then even if those pipes supply hot water, they are going to cool the room. They are going to absorb the heat in the room, (apart from when the hot tap is running), which makes them act like reverse radiators.
Remember that most houses lose a massive amount of heat from their windows, which means thick curtains are especially useful during the winter seasons. Plus, even small draught under the door can alter how hot a room feels, which may cause you to put the heating on when it is not needed.
Final Tip – Record your average power usage per month and per quarter
When you go online to find out which is the cheapest power company for you, make sure you know how much gas and electricity you use each month. As you read earlier, there are some power companies that have tiered prices, which means you need to pick the company that suits the amount of power you use. Also, make sure you account for how your power usage changes between the seasons.