How to find the right electricity or gas tariff

Power plugs and coins are in front of an outlet

There is currently an exceptional situation on the gas and electricity market: procurement prices have been very high for months, some suppliers have announced a supply freeze, others have had to declare insolvency. Many energy providers have responded with price increases.

In some cities the basic supply tariff is currently the cheapest tariff. The savings when switching suppliers are small in many supply areas. It is sometimes difficult to find attractive rates. Especially if the tariff should have a price guarantee.

Good to know: Comparison portals often do not include the basic supply tariffs in their search results. In addition, the prices of the rates shown in the portals are currently often not correct. The prices are outdated and cheap and therefore appear high in the search results. However, there may also be current, low-priced tariffs with providers that are not shown in the portal, so that only more expensive tariffs then appear in the portal.

This is how you should proceed:

  • Stay in your existing tariff if you still have a favorable tariff and have not yet received a price increase.
  • You have received a price increase and are looking for a new tariff? Then inquire with the basic supplier locally for favorable tariffs. As a transitional solution, you should include the basic service tariff in your research.
  • If you do not find a suitable tariff in this way, you can z.B. Look for tariffs at other public utilities and energy suppliers.
  • A comparison portal can also provide orientation. Please note here, however, that many prices are not up to date.
  • If you find only more expensive tariffs, make sure that they are not too long in duration. Sign up for a plan that you can cancel monthly or quarterly. Look around again in a few weeks for cheaper rates.

Stay flexible: Short deadlines

Do not tie yourself unnecessarily long to an energy supplier. Prefer to remain flexible so that you can take advantage of other attractive offers if required. As a filter setting we recommend for this:

  1. maximum 12 months initial contract term
  2. maximum 1 month extension
  3. Maximum 1 month notice period

Use only tariff portals that allow you all these settings in the search.

Does a tariff with a price guarantee protect against price increases?

Whether a price guarantee makes sense cannot be said across the board. That always depends on how prices are currently and how they are expected to develop. And, in addition, which price components the price guarantee covers. You can find a recommendation for the current situation in the red box below.

Generally speaking: If a rate with a price guarantee is not expensive and has an initial term of no more than one year, the guarantee does no harm. In addition to price and term, the scope of the warranty is crucial.

Many price guarantees are limited. They exclude legally regulated price components such as network charges, taxes, levies and surcharges. If these price components change, the guarantee does not apply – the provider can still increase his prices.

The percentage of the total price accounted for by the excluded elements can be high: For gas, it is up to about 50 percent; for electricity, it can even be more than 80 percent. At present the procurement costs rise both with river and with gas. A price guarantee can therefore protect you from rising prices.

Current recommendation on price guarantees:

In 2021, procurement costs for electricity have risen sharply, and for gas they have increased exceptionally. It is to be expected that many suppliers will react with price increases. For electricity, the EEG levy will fall in 2022 – by about 3.3 cents gross compared to 2021. This mitigates the price increase in procurement costs somewhat. Network charges will rise slightly on average in 2022. There are large regional differences.

With electricity a tariff with price guarantee currently has an added value. It prevents you from possibly receiving a price increase shortly after switching and having to switch again.You should refrain from an expensive tariff with price guarantee. You should commit to a maximum of one year.

With the gas Procurement costs will rise significantly in 2021. This will affect many consumer contracts. Price increases are likely. If you find a cheap rate with price guarantee, you should grab it. Since the 1. January 2022, there have been changes in the CO2 levy and, in many regions, in network charges as well. If you choose only a limited price guarantee, price increases may still occur. Nevertheless a limited warranty protects at present also well against the strongly risen procurement costs.

Even without a price guarantee, you do not have to accept price increases: If prices change, you always have a special right of termination.

Your experience is important!

For market observation from the consumer’s point of view can be Your experience be very valuable: describe your Difficulties with companies, suppliers or products.

With bonus tariffs set for further changes

For a tariff with bonus, be prepared to change again after a year. Because the second year of the contract is usually more expensive in the bonus tariffs. The reported savings in the first year are often due solely to the bonus.

Therefore, it is helpful not to include the bonus when comparing rates. Also pay close attention to the conditions for the bonus.

Selecting online rates consciously

So-called online tariffs now make up the majority of the cheapest tariffs in comparison portals. Contact with the provider is usually exclusively by e-mail or via a customer portal. Face-to-face meetings and sometimes telephone calls will not be. In these tariffs, you also only learn about price increases electronically.

Therefore, only choose an online tariff if you regularly read your e-mails and can do without personal service.

There is currently no filter for online rates in most comparison portals. The portals show however, if it concerns an on-line tariff.

A tip: If you find an online tariff in a comparison portal that suits you well, but you would prefer it with personal service and bills by mail, ask the provider directly. Some companies go for it.

Green electricity and green gas: do not overestimate environmental benefits

Choosing a tariff with green electricity doesn’t do much for the energy transition. The expansion of renewable energy in Germany is financed primarily by the EEG levy, which consumers pay anyway. Many green electricity tariffs have no climate benefit beyond that.

However, if you want to find the offers that make the most sense for the climate, you can use the "ok-power" labels and "Green Electricity Label orient.

Eco-gas and climate gas also have only limited demonstrable environmental benefits. However, there are no comparable labels for this.

Don’t be blinded by bonuses and bundle offers

Sometimes an offer includes another product in addition to the electricity or gas tariff, sometimes called a premium. For example, this could be a grill, a smartphone, a bike, or a magazine subscription. For such a bundled offer, you usually pay such a much higher base price that it would be cheaper to buy the energy and the premium product separately.

A subscription can also prove to be a cost trap and may run longer than your energy contract. Therefore, check such offers carefully.

Pay attention to the number of deductions

Providers usually require you to make 12 monthly payments, known as budget billing. However, some providers also take 11 markdowns. If your projected energy costs are only divided into 11 billing statements, your billing statement is a little higher than if you had 12 billing statements.

This is disadvantageous in case your energy provider goes bankrupt. Because 11 deductions create an unnecessarily high credit balance against the energy provider, which you will hardly get back in case of insolvency. In addition, lower discounts are more beneficial for households that have a small monthly budget. So you should opt for 12 markdowns.

Inform about new energy provider

To get to the most customer-friendly supplier, you can use the experiences of other customers. Typical problems are, for example:

  • Annual or final bills that have not been prepared
  • the non-payment of bonuses or credits
  • drastic price increases
  • Contracts underhanded

As sources for your research are suitable on the one hand the Internet sides of the offerers themselves – if you win here a bad impression, because for instance no clear product descriptions, contact possibilities or references to the enterprise are to be found, you should not engage yourselves on a contract. You can also consult publications of rulings and warnings from consumer watchdogs. In addition, a short Internet search is suitable to check whether other Verbraucher:innen already had increased problems with a provider. If a provider is rated poorly in comparison portals, you should also advise against it.

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