How to switch energy supplier
Does switching energy suppliers sound stressful? It shouldn’t be! Our guide is here to help you find the cheapest energy supplier and switch quickly and easily. Energy bills are a significant household cost. So, switching tariffs can be a fantastic way to find the best energy deal and cut down those expenses.
Why should I switch energy suppliers?
People switch energy supplier for the following reasons:
- Save money - compare suppliers and their tariffs on offer to switch to the cheapest energy supplier and save money.
- Better service - your current supplier might offer poor service and you might keep receiving incorrect bills, for example. Switching to an energy supplier with high customer satisfaction could be a good idea.
- Help the environment - you might consider switching to a green energy supplier which will both save you money and help out the environment.
How much could I save if I switch suppliers?
Switching energy suppliers is a way you can save money on your bill. Most people are on default standard tariffs which are usually the most expensive.
According to energy regulator Ofgem, 11 million households are on a standard tariff and could save £300 a year by switching suppliers. If you are paying anything over £1,000 a year on energy you should consider getting quotes from other suppliers.
You can also look at other tariffs on offer from your current supplier to compare against others.
When’s the best time to switch energy providers?
You might not have even considered switching energy supplier until now. So, when should you switch?
- End of a fixed contract period - cheap ‘new customer’ deals tend to end when your fixed contract with an energy supplier is over. After this, you’ll be put on an expensive standard tariff.
- Before winter - we don’t use much energy in the summer. Make sure that you’re on the cheapest energy deal before winter by comparing prices as this is when you’ll be spending the most on energy.
- Before prices rise - if you hear on the news that energy prices are rising, then you might want to switch to the cheapest provider. If prices are rising, choose a fixed price tariff as this means that the rates won’t fluctuate.
- When oil prices drop - if you hear on the news oil prices are falling, it may be a good opportunity to get cheaper energy. Do a price comparison to see if you can save.
- When moving home - this is the perfect opportunity to compare energy supplier prices. You might have more rooms and different appliances that may cost more. Find a tariff that’ll suit your new property best.
- Change in circumstances - maybe you’ve got a new job working from home. Your power usage during the day will now increase so a tariff that charges less during the daytime might suit you.
- Paid off supplier debt - if you were in debt to your energy supplier but you’ve since paid it off, you might want to start shopping around for a cheaper deal.
How often should I switch energy supplier?
Research by Energylinx found that changing energy supplier once a year saved the most money. This was for a medium energy user paying by direct debit and with contracts without exit fees. The average household would pay £1,653 if they switched once a year, but 24% more at £2,050 if they switched every two years.
The lesson? Compare prices once a year to see if you can get a better deal.
What information will I need to switch energy suppliers?
Before making the switch to a new energy supplier, you’ll need to have the following information to hand:
- Your postcode - different areas are charged different energy prices.
- Name of current supplier - to help comparison.
- Name of current tariff - so the new supplier has an idea of what you are on.
- Annual gas and electricity usage - the most accurate quotes are based on accurate usage figures. You can find these figures on your bills.
- Bank details - if you want to set up a direct debit.
How do I switch energy supplier?
Switching energy suppliers is an easy process. Follow our simple step-by-step guide to get started:
Step 1: Compare energy prices
Once you’ve got all of the information above ready, you can take the first step and start comparing energy tariffs. The majority of people do this via a price comparison website. These websites take the information you’ve provided and show you a range of deals from different suppliers so you can compare the prices.
Picking the cheapest energy tariff on offer might seem straightforward. However, there are differences between the tariffs:
- Fixed tariff - the amount you pay per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for gas and electricity is fixed for the duration of the deal. This is for at least one year.
- Variable tariff - the amount you pay per kWh for gas and electricity will change whenever the supplier lowers or raises its prices. They will have to give 30 days notice before changing the price.
- Dual-fuel tariff - a tariff that includes both gas and electricity from the same supplier. Most energy suppliers offer discounts for this.
- Paperless tariff - you won’t receive bills via the post but everything will be available online via your account. Some energy suppliers offer a discount for paperless.
- Economy 7/10 tariff - these tariffs will vary in price depending on the time of day that you use energy.
- Prepayment tariff - these tariffs work like ‘pay-as-you-go’ mobile phones. You top up a prepayment meter in your home, then you can use the energy you’ve prepaid for.
As you can see, the cheapest when you compare could be the variable tariff but this could change as prices fluctuate. So, in some instances, fixed tariffs might be cheaper in the long-run.
Step 2: Compare energy suppliers
Now that you’ve narrowed down your search to a few energy suppliers, you can start comparing them to find the best fit for you. Take the following into account:
- Customer satisfaction - compare the customer reviews for each supplier. Are customers having a lot of issues dealing with their energy supplier? Or is there a lot of positive feedback? You don’t want to pick a supplier that could be difficult to deal with.
- Exit fees - some suppliers charge exit fees if you leave before the tariff ends.
- Fixed or variable direct debit - take a look at whether the direct debit will be fixed every month or variable to match what you use. Pick a supplier that fits the way you want to pay.
- Smart meter - some suppliers have tariffs that require a smart meter.
- Upfront payment - does the new tariff require upfront payment? Some suppliers might require one or two month’s payments in advance before supplying gas and electricity.
Step 3: Start the switch
Once you’ve picked your new energy supplier and tariff, you can either ring or apply online to start the switching process. Your new energy supplier will let your old supplier know about the switch and take care of everything for you.
Your energy supply will not be interrupted when you switch.
Switching energy suppliers takes around 21 days to complete. Your new energy supplier must allow a 14-day cooling-off period in case you wish to change your mind before the switch goes ahead.
Step 4: Pay your final bill
Your old energy supplier will send you a final bill based on your last meter readings when you switch. If you have been overpaying and they owe you money, make sure that you get it! Call them and ask for any credit held on your account to be refunded.
You will also need to provide your new energy supplier with a meter reading to ensure that they charge you correctly for the first month/quarter.
Switching energy supplier when in debt
If you have been in debt to your energy supplier for over a month, you will have to pay this off before you switch. Talk to your supplier beforehand to find out whether you can switch if you still owe money. If you are struggling to pay, you might be able to sort out an affordable repayment plan.
If you have been in debt to your energy supplier for less than a month, you can usually still switch. They will add this debt to your final bill.
Switching energy supplier when moving
Moving home can often be the perfect time to switch energy suppliers. Remember, you will need to get in touch with your old supplier to let them know that you are moving property.
You will need to take a meter reading to send to your old supplier when you move so that you can pay your final bill.
Switch energy suppliers quickly once you move. This is because you’ll be put on the standard tariff for whoever supplies your new property. This can be expensive and won’t be the best deal out there.
Can I switch energy suppliers when renting?
If you are paying for the gas and electricity in your rented property and not via the landlord, then you can switch energy suppliers. You can find out who’s responsible for paying the energy bills in your tenancy agreement.
You can switch energy suppliers without the landlord’s permission but you can still let them know. However, always double-check your tenancy agreement just in case it states you cannot switch. You should be able to argue this is an unfair clause though as you are the one using and paying for the gas and electric.
As soon as you move into a property, take a meter reading and send it to the supplier. We would also recommend comparing and switching as you might be on the standard most expensive tariff.
Tips for switching energy supplier
Here are a few top tips to help maximise your savings when switching energy suppliers:
- Work out your real energy usage - providing a comparison website with accurate meter readings rather than just what tariff you are on will get you more accurate quotes. This means you can be matched with the best suppliers for your energy use.
- Don’t be afraid of exit fees - don’t let exit fees keep you tied down to an expensive energy supplier. The savings you’ll make by switching could outweigh any exit fees.
- Don’t miss a good deal - if you see a good deal from a different supplier, you shouldn’t wait around but go for it immediately. If you change your mind or a better deal comes around, you have a 14-day cooling-off period to duck out.
- Trust the safety net - if you find that the cheapest energy deal on offer is from a small supplier you haven’t heard of, there’s no need to be worried about it! Whilst you might be concerned that new, small energy companies could go bust, you will be protected by the energy regulator, Ofgem. If an energy supplier fails, Ofgem will make sure that you are transferred to another supplier with no loss of gas or electricity.
Is it worth switching energy suppliers?
Switching energy suppliers is such a simple and easy process that it’s unlikely that you’ll ever regret doing so! The main reason that makes switching suppliers worth it is the amount of money you can save. For example, the average a household spends on energy bills a year is £1,100. However, the cheapest deals can be as low as around £800. So, there are potentially hundreds of pounds to save by switching to a better energy deal.
Your savings could be much more modest than this, depending on the amount of energy you use. However, any level of savings is a good thing!
Another worth-it reason for switching is for better customer service. If you are receiving incorrect bills and not having complaints dealt with, switching suppliers will be worth it to reduce stress levels.
Think about what you want to gain from switching before deciding to go ahead.
When shouldn’t you change energy providers?
If your exit fee with your current supplier outweighs any savings you’d make by switching, it might be best to wait until the end of your current contract.
If you owe money and are in debt to your current supplier, you could pay that off before you start thinking about switching energy providers.
What happens if you have a problem switching energy suppliers?
Switching energy suppliers should be a smooth process. However, if you have an issue while switching providers, you could be owed automatic compensation.
Automatic compensation will apply to the following situations:
- The switch takes too long to complete.
- Your previous supplier takes too long to send you your final bill.
- Your previous supplier takes too long to refund you any overpayments.
- You are switched to the wrong supplier by mistake.
You’ll receive £30 compensation for each of the above issues. This is only automatic if your supplier spots the issue, so let them know if you experience any of the above.