For some people, it is exactly the right time to switch energy contract. Gas and electricity prices have been falling since the start of the year and switching contract will help you make savings. It is easy, quick and free!

Consumers who took out their current contract between June 2018 and December 2018 (or if the contract was renewed during this period) are particularly targeted because they signed at a time when prices had rocketed. Since then, gas and electricity rates have fallen.

“Electricity prices went down by an average of € 150 between January and August; for gas, that’s € 350 for a yearly invoice”, sums up Laurent Jacquet, director of CREG (Commission for Electricity and Gas Regulation).

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Why have energy prices fallen?

In general, a drop in prices occurs on a seasonal and recurring basis but this time, the difference is greater than usual. Gas and electricity prices had reached very low levels at the beginning of 2016, but then went up again. According to CREG’s data, the most significant increase was in the fourth quarter of 2018. This can be explained by several factors: a rise in natural gas prices on the wholesale market (due among other things to a rise in the price of CO2 emissions) and the uncertainty surrounding nuclear power production.

In the meantime, the situation on the energy market has more or less stabilised. The threat of an electricity shortage has currently been averted. Indeed, the nuclear power plants are up and running again. Besides, the production of renewable energy has reached new record levels. For instance, energy produced by solar panels increased by 6 % in the first six months of 2019 thanks to a good level of sunshine and an increase in the number of solar panels installed in Belgium.

As for gas, its price has fallen by 50 % since 1 January in Europe and Belgium. This can be explained by an abundant production and a relatively low demand following the mild winter of 2018-2019.

Therefore, it is a good time to switch energy contract, because it is highly likely that prices will start to increase again as of September.

And what about the total amount of the energy bill?

There is all sorts of information on your gas and electricity bills and it isn’t always easy to understand everything at first sight: energy price, network costs, taxes and surcharges, etc.

The first part of the bill, which shows the energy price, is the only one on which you can have a real impact. It basically indicates the price per kWh of gas or electricity as well as the fee, which are both set by the energy supplier. This part concerns approximately half of the total amount of your bill. In short: if you divide the energy price by two, this doesn’t mean that the total amount of your bill will be divided by twoIt will be reduced by 25 %. And bear in mind that everything depends on the length of the period during which the prices fall, as well as the period when it occurs. A price fall in winter will have a greater impact than a price fall in summer.

Read our guide to better understanding your energy bill. 

What should you choose: a fixed rate or a variable rate?

The majority of energy suppliers propose several types of contract for your electricity supply. For instance, the consumer generally has the choice between a green electricity offer, a 100 % online offer or a traditional offer. But regardless of these specificities, there is one criterion you must take into account: the rate applied in your contract. As it can be fixed or variable, it not only influences the cost per kWh and the subscription to the electricity supply, but also the customer guarantee.

A fixed tariff ensures the same price per kWh of electricity for the entire duration of the energy supply contract. In exchange for this security, suppliers often charge a higher yearly subscription fee. In comparison, a variable tariff is indexed every quarter. A downward or upward trend that the consumer usually discovers when they receive their annual statement. The risk being that if there is an increase, they have to pay a relatively high extra amount.

The same is true for gas supply contracts. If you already have a variable price contract, it is maybe time to think of taking out a fixed price contract as the tariffs are currently lower. Do a simulation using our price comparison tool: it is easy, quick and free.

Annual fee, termination fee… What does the law say?

To cover their administrative costs, energy suppliers may charge a yearly fixed fee (or subscription fees). According to CREG, these costs could be related to billing or customer care services.

There are different ways of billing the fixed fee:

  • Either according to the actual duration of the contractFor instance, you have taken out a contract with an annual fixed fee of € 50. In the end, you decide to switch supplier after six months. Since the fixed fee is billed on a pro rata basis according to the contract’s actual duration, you will only have to pay a fee of € 25;
  • Or a flat fee per year startedFor instance, you have taken out a contract with an annual fixed fee of € 50. You eventually decide to switch supplier after six months. Since the fixed fee is billed per year started, the supplier will ask you to pay the € 50 fee;
  • Or, for some fixed-term contracts of more than one year, per year started, only for the first year.Then for the following year, the fee is billed:
    • per year started but by reducing the fixed fee as of the second year;
    • on a pro rata basis according to the number of days supplied as of the second year;

Compare, switch but don’t forget this aspect if you decide to switch energy contract more often to continuously take advantage of the best prices.

Beware! Energy suppliers can’t bill exit fees.

Since 13 September 2012, the date the law on the abolition of exit fees came into force, all private consumers can switch supplier at any moment without paying any exit fees. However, they must respect the period of notice which is stipulated in the contract. It is usually one month.

If an energy supplier tries to charge you a fee, you can remind them of the law. If they insist, you can contact the Energy Mediation Service.

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How can I switch my energy supply contract?

Switching your energy contract or supplier is easy and free. Furthermore, you are guaranteed your gas and/or electricity supply won’t be cut off. In Belgium, only 10 to 15 % of consumers regularly switch energy contract.

1. The first step towards switching energy contract is the price comparison tool.

With the help of our gas and electricity price comparison tool, you get a complete picture of the market with continuously updated prices. This way, you can easily see what the best contract currently is for you, by taking into account your region, your consumption and your type of electricity meter.

2. The second step is subscribing to a new energy contract.

You can do this directly on our website Energyprice.be. It is quick, free and you benefit from personalised support before, during and after switching contracts.

3. And finally, don’t forget that the energy market and supplier tariffs are constantly changing.

It is important to remain vigilant and compare supplier prices at least once a year. This means you can maintain a competitive price and make significant savings if better offers turn up. Often, the difference can be as much as several hundred euros on an annual basis.

Want to find out more about how the comparison tool works? Or do you need a hand to help reduce your electricity bill? Our advisors are available on 0800 37 369, Monday to Friday, from 09:00 to 18:00

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