Switching energy suppliers has never been easier. It is now so common that a whole industry has developed to help us make the change
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to switch, because our existing supplier would reward our loyalty with a reduced tariff. The truth is, energy companies penalise our loyalty. They increase prices for existing customers each year, while wooing new customers with the best deals.
The good news is we can get the best deals if we switch. It costs us nothing and our new energy supplier will handle all the boring admin – so what are you waiting for?
What info do I need to switch?
All of the info you need to switch can be found on a recent energy bill (if you’re doing this online, all the instructions will be on your account or statement)
- The name of your current supplier
- The name of the type of tariff(s) you have (eg Standard)
- How much you use (kWh) per year or how much you pay per month
- Some sites ask for your postcode and the size of your home (number of rooms)
Once you have the details to hand, it takes five minutes to see how much you could save by putting a few details into a comparison website. We have a handy guide on using comparison sites, if you haven’t used them before.
Some comparison sites focus just on energy tariffs. If you go to Energyhelpline.com, for example, they have the best energy deals offered by area. You put in your postcode and up comes the best local deals available. This can be really useful because not all energy providers cover the whole of the country.
Is switching free?
Yes, switching is free – as long as you have reached the end of your current contract. Most energy suppliers offer 12 month contracts. If you decide to leave before the end of the contract period, your supplier might charge an ‘exit fee’. That’s why it is always best to wait until the end of the contract period to switch. Also, when choosing a new deal, check to see if it has an exit fee attached, and how long the contract period lasts. If you are unsure how long your current contract lasts, and if there is an ‘exit fee’, contact your current supplier and check.
What do I do once I’ve chosen a new deal?
Once you’ve chosen a new deal on a comparison site, simply follow the links and your new energy supplier will switch everything over. You can also call the new supplier and do the switch over the phone. You don’t even have to inform your old supplier you are leaving. Just take a meter reading on the day you switch, and keep it safe. The reading will be required by the new supplier, to make sure you aren’t paying for energy used before the switch.
The switch happens automatically, and takes between 17 and 21 days. There should be no disruption in your service. In fact, the only thing you should notice is a different company name on the bill (and that the bill is cheaper!) You have a ‘cooling off’ period of 14 days after the date you decide to switch, in which you can change your mind. If you decide after 14 days to change your mind, you might be charged a fee.
Can I still switch if I use a pre-payment meter?
Yes, however the deals offered on these meters aren’t as competitive as general tariffs. You could save by switching from one prepayment plan to another, but it’s likely you will save more by replacing your prepayment meter with a standard credit meter — giving you access to cheaper deals on the energy market.
If you rent your home and your landlord pays the energy company directly, you don’t have the right to switch supplier – you’ll need to ask your landlord to do it.
Other things to be aware of…
- If you rent, check your tenancy agreement (ask for a copy if you don’t have one) to find out if you have to pay your landlord for energy, and on what terms. If you think your landlord is charging you too much, ask them for a copy of the bill. If you need further help, you can call Citizens Advice or check out this page.
- If you get the Warm Home Discount, you might want to check how it works with the new supplier.
- If the supplier you’ve chosen is new to the market, do a quick internet search to find reviews for them before switching.