British Gas has just launched a brand new energy plan for its smart meter customers. The “FreeTime” plan is the first of its kind to offer free electricity at the weekends. However, experts have been quick to criticize, stating better deals are available elsewhere. So what is FreeTime and could you really be better off switching to another supplier?
Understanding the FreeTime plan
The first thing customers need to know about the FreeTime plan which started on 3rd July 2016, is that it only applies to either the Saturday or Sunday. It is not free for the entire weekend and it also only applies from 9am until 5pm. Despite these restrictions however, it’s still free electricity, which British Gas claims could save customers up to £60 a year.
The plan will currently only be available to dual fuel customers. This means the customers who use British Gas for all of their energy (gas and electric). Currently just 22% of the company’s customers use a smart meter. However, it has said this offer is applicable to those who are eligible to have a meter installed. So if you don’t currently have one and you are eligible, you could benefit from FreeTime once the meter has been installed.
Are cheaper plans available?
While experts have praised British Gas for being the first supplier to offer such a deal, they do still recommend that customers shop around.
An investigation by the Money Mail just last month, revealed that British Gas wasn’t giving its existing customers the best deal. Instead, the company is focusing on new customers, offering a new HomeEnergy exclusive tariff at just £749 per year. Compared to the standard FreeTime tariff offered to existing customers, it’s a massive £250 cheaper.
While the FreeTime plan is the cheapest offer from British Gas to its existing customers, families could be losing out. Currently it’s estimated that the average family uses 3100kw electricity and 12500kwh gas, which means they will pay around £1,001 per year on the FreeTime plan. Compare this to the £734 average offered by competitor IRESA, and you realise the free weekend energy gimmick isn’t as great as it sounds.
Overall it is a positive move by British Gas, but customers would still potentially be better off shopping around. The internet makes it easy to compare current tariffs, allowing you to find the cheapest one available to suit your individual circumstances.