> Gas - UK Guide
Gas is a utility that we have all come to rely on over the years, and we can run everything from our central heating to our cookers from this utility. In the past, most people in the UK turned to British Gas for their gas needs. However, over recent years a great deal of competition has been introduced into the utilities market, including gas, and this has a seen a larger number of providers come onto the scene, giving consumers a greater choice.
How do I find out who serves my area?
In the past, it could be difficult to ascertain which providers served your area, and this could be a time consuming task. However, the limited number of gas providers made it a little easier. These days, there are far more gas providers, which potentially could mean more work in tying to find out which suppliers service your area. However, the Internet makes this task easier, with a number of sites through which you can find out about local providers. You can also contact the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (www.ofgem.gov.uk).
What to look out for
When looking for a gas supplier, it is important to consider the price. Many people just assume that the bigger, better known companies are going to be the best, but in truth there are now many smaller gas providers that can offer excellent customer services and a high level of service for a lower price. You should also look into payment methods, any special offers or rates for new gas customers, and any package deals that could save you more money (such as a combined gas and electricity package).
How do I pay?
Most gas providers now offer a wide range of payment options, which means a higher level of convenience and choice for consumers. Most gas providers enable you to pay quarterly, and you can do this via a bank or post office, or by calling the provider and making a credit card or debit card payment. You can also send a cheque for your quarterly payment. Most providers now encourage people to pay on a monthly basis via direct debit, although there is no obligation to do so. This saves the provider a lot of time and money because payments are received regularly and on time. It can also save the consumer time and inconvenience. Many providers now offer a reduced rate for direct debit customers, so you can also save money by paying in this way.
Money Saving Tips
There are a number of ways in which you can save money on the cost of your gas bills. These include:
Limit the use of gas appliances to when you need them. A surprising number of people leave the gas fire on even when they are out of the room for hours, or forget to switch the oven off after cooking, which can be both dangerous and costly.
Paying by direct debit will get you a discount with many gas providers, and this can help to keep down unnecessary costs.
Combine your gas and electricity supply, as you may get a better deal by having both utilities from the same supplier.
How do I switch accounts?
Although many people think that switching must be a long winded and complicated process, hundreds of people switch every week, and these days the utility companies do all the work for you! All you have to do is decide which company you want to switch to, and contact the company to advise them. The new company will ask for a meter reading and will then contact your old company to terminate your agreement and initiate your new one. This is the general procedure, but may change from one provider to another.
You can find out more about getting or changing your gas supplier from the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets: www.ofgem.gov.uk