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Dual Fuel Tariffs Explained

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You might have heard friends, money advice websites and even your energy supplier talking or sending you information about dual fuel tariffs and energy plans. But, what is ‘dual fuel’, should you switch to a dual fuel tariff, are they cheaper and is it easy to switch to them? In this article I will be aiming to answer these frequently asked questions about dual fuel energy tariffs.

What is a dual fuel tariff?

A dual fuel energy plan or tariff is one where your electricity and gas are bundled together in a package from a single supplier and in the same contract. Most of us get our gas and electricity from two different suppliers but getting on a dual fuel tariff and combining them into a single contract can help you save money on your energy bills. This along with the time saved in having only one energy supply company to deal with when you have queries, complaints or problems are the main benefits for consumers.

At the same time dual fuel contracts are good for the supplier as they increase customers and get more income from persuading you to take both your gas and electricity from them.

Why should I choose a dual fuel tariff?

Switching to a dual fuel tariff has several advantages. The first is that, as mentioned, getting all your energy from a single supplier makes the process of paying for your energy, managing bills and contracts and contacting supplies much, much easier. This goes for you and your energy supplier as they will often combine both services into a single monthly direct debit and bill.

A lot of energy supplies also offer incentives and discounts for customers who switch to dual fuel plans. The incentive for the energy company is that, as a supplier, it is much more secure in you remaining a customer over the long term when taking all your energy needs from them. Put simply, it’s a win-win equation.

Is dual fuel the cheapest tariff for me?

This is a tricky question and frankly it is best answered by running an energy price comparison. There are quite a few tools online such as USwitch which will help to check prices and availability of tariffs in your area.

I recommend using an energy comparison service (these are offered by energy companies but a neutral one is best) as,depending upon your energy needs, usage and location, you could find that buying your gas and electricity from two different suppliers could work out cheaper for you. There are single services tariffs which are priced a little cheaper than dual fuel combined bills.

One thing to take into account is that a lot of energy companies will give customers a discount for switching to/ joining on a dual fuel tariff. This is often called a ‘dual fuel discount’. These might not be advertised or available through a comparison site so unfortunately it may mean a bit of leg work contacting suppliers to find out available discounts.

Does dual fuel offer any other benefits?

They can make life a little simpler. There is one monthly or quarterly statement or bill to check and one direct debit to look out for each billing cycle. It all means a little less admin.

If, or rather when things go wrong and you need to contact your gas and electricity suppliers you only have one phone call to make. It also makes life easier if you switch bank accounts, move home or move to another supplier, you’re only changing one account.

How easy is it to switch to dual fuel?

The short answer is that it is relatively easy to switch to a dual fuel tariff energy plan. Whilst it isn’t too difficult if you are switching gas and electricity from two different companies to a third provider it becomes even easier if you are just moving one fuel (gas or electricity) to the others provider.

Once you have thoroughly gone through a price comparison service, using your most recent electricity and gas bills you should be pointed to the best dual fuel (or not) plan for you. Switching should be an easy process and shouldn’t require a lot of paperwork. Most of the admin should be taken care of by your old and new energy suppliers. You will be informed of the change over of supply date and when any new direct debits begin. Once you have switched to the new provider check with your bank that any old direct debits are cancelled and the new one is setup correctly. All you should really notice is a cheaper energy bill coming your way!

To find out more about dual fuel tariffs, the switching process and other ways to cut your energy costs check out this great guide by OVO Energy on dual fuel.

Energy

Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?

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The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?

The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.

Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.

The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.

Introducing New Technology

The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.

  • To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
  • Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
  • Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.

How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy

Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.

The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.

The Internet of Things

Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.

Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.

Blockchain Technology

It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.

“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”

Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)

The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.

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Energy

4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy

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Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.

However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?

A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.

1.     Boulder Nissan

When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:

  • Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
  • They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
  • Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.

This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.

2.     Valley Electric Association

In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.

“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”

The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.

This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.

3.     Las Vegas Casinos

A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.

“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”

There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.

4.     Boston College

Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.

Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.

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