Switching and Saving

This blog post is about saving money, which is something I am almost as passionate about as appreciating and saving nature and wild places. In any case I hope it will be forgiven, but everybody likes to save money right? Also it is January and many people think about giving their finances a health-check at this time of year. (I sometimes think I might need a blog dedicated to money-saving ideas, though there are others who do that so well.)

As an energy customer I tend to be quite loyal – reluctant to switch unless it really adds up. We stayed with our last supplier over ten years and I wasn’t unhappy with them – far from it. We liked Ovo Energy for their ethos, their 100% renewable electricity and their easy-to-use interface. Every month I’d get a reminder email inviting me to take meter readings, otherwise they simply estimated our use until I provided the next reading. It was great, but the prices did creep up little by little over the years and I started to wonder if it was possible to remain green but save money.

For a few years I registered with a ‘Big Community Switch’ scheme through our Local Authority, East Riding of Yorkshire Council. Basically they invite suppliers to offer their best prices in a reverse auction based upon the number of potential new customers. The cheapest one wins the right to offer their deal to all those registered in the scheme. The customers always have complete choice to take or leave the offer. Now I can tell you that on several occasions through this scheme I was offered a deal cheaper by some £150 or more per year but turned it down. The alternative suppliers were not usually 100% renewable and often had a more chequered customer service reputation.

So I decided it would take an exceptional supplier to prompt me to leave. A decent financial saving was important but not the whole story. I had to like their product, (I was keen to source renewable energy at a competitive price), but I had to like their customer service and general ethos too. In short I needed to be sufficiently impressed to make the switch.

Then along came Bulb, a relative newcomer in the energy market. I really liked what I was reading about them on money saving forums, including positive press from moneysavingexpert.com. They offered a switching bonus, they quoted me an annual bill some £200 cheaper and they offered to refund my early exit charges. Most importantly they felt different to the established providers – more open, transparent, simpler tariff, highly responsive, customer-focussed and trustworthy.

So we switched to Bulb last year and nearly twelve months on we are very happy with them. Currently for our household (two adults and a child in a three-bed semi-detached house) we pay £92 per month combined for electricity (100% renewable) and gas (which is 10% renewably-sourced gas). Bulb is refreshingly honest about their pricing and make no secret that from time to time wholesale prices change, so their tariff may increase – as it has done since signing up – but I feel that I was kept in the loop about it and still remain better off than with my old supplier.

This year they want to rollout smart meters – the next generation sort which are transferrable between suppliers. (The first generation smart meters cease functioning if you change suppliers – and I can see why this is contrary to the Bulb ethos – since customers wouldn’t be free to come and go as they please.) At present I still submit my own meter readings as and when convenient. Missing readings is not a problem but its obviously better to be billed accurately. I got very used to this habit with Ovo to be honest.

So if anyone is thinking of switching energy supplier it is really easy and quick to get a quote from Bulb and I would certainly recommend you look into them. Ideally give your usage from an old bill, but estimates for average usage are a fairly good guide if it’s a hassle to dig out your current supplier’s paperwork. The best bit is that if you end up switching to Bulb through a referral link (mine is here for example www.bulb.co.uk/refer/tim8644 ) then we both get a £50 credit to our respective accounts. £50 free energy – that can’t be bad?

I have found Bulb to be thoroughly nice to deal with and they won’t tie you in. You stay because you want to stay not to avoid some penalty from switching to a rival provider before your contract ends. If you are contemplating a switch, then why not ask Bulb to give you a quote?

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