Energy prices seem to be constantly rising and when one provider announces a hike you can put money on the fact the rest will follow suit. So how can you be sure you're getting the best deal?

Check your energy bill

In order to find a cheaper energy tariff than the one you're on you need to figure out how much you're currently spending.

The amount of gas and electricity you've used will be shown on your bill in kilowatt hours.

When you come to compare energy prices it is the cost of electricity per kWh and the cost of gas per kWh that you will need to look out for.

Double up with dual fuel

Energy companies want your custom and, as such, will often offer you a discount if you get both your electricity and gas from them.

However, while switching to a dual tariff with your current provider is sure to save you some cash, it will not guarantee you're on the best deal on the market. You may still be able to make a saving by opting for a different provider.

A dual fuel comparison of the whole market will help you to get the best deal.

Shop around for the best energy prices

Once you know how much you currently spend you can compare gas and electricity prices. An energy comparison site can help you to find a more cost efficient tariff.

You'll simply need to pop in your postcode, select your current supplier and the name of your tariff (you'll find this on your bill) and the amount of gas or electricity you use in kWh.

Before switching be sure to check whether or not you will incur an early cancellation fee. These can range from 5 to around 80. However, if you are switching because your provider has recently hiked prices - or announced its intention to do so - you should not be charged a cancellation fee as long as you let your provider know you want to leave within 30 days of the hike.

To fix or not to fix

You'll need to decide whether you want a fixed energy tariff or a variable one.

Fixed tariffs have a set price for electricity and gas per unit. This means you'll have the security of knowing exactly what your payments will be. You may find that you have to pay a little extra for that security though.

Variable tariffs often offer cheaper electricity and gas unit prices. However, remember that as these prices aren't fixed your provider could hike its prices at any time.

Change how you pay for gas & electricity

Providers will usually charge you more if you don't pay your energy bill by direct debit.

What's more, they'll often save their cheapest energy tariff for their online customers so if you have access to a computer choose an online only tariff.

Should you get a smart meter?

A new generation of energy meters (gas and electric) can read your energy usage and reports it directly to your supplier. This means the end of estimated bills and no more meter readers knocking on your door!

They also help you manage your usage by giving you real time feedback so you know how much your energy is costing you.