What do I need to know if I want to switch energy suppliers?
Start by checking whether you could save by switching suppliers using a comparison website. The more information you have, the more accurate your quote will be.
To get a quick idea, the minimum amount of information you need is how much you currently pay for your gas and electricity, and who your supplier is. If you want a more accurate quote, you’ll need to know what tariff you’re on – you’ll find this in your online account or on your bill. With all these details, most websites should be able to factor any cancellation fees you might have to pay into your quote.
If the exit charge outweighs any savings you might make, wait until you receive a notice from your supplier that the contract is coming to an end. This should arrive 42-49 days before the last day of your contract, and if you decide to switch during this time, you can’t be charged for leaving.
Can I switch if I owe money to my current supplier?
Yes, within a time limit. If you have an outstanding bill less than 28 days old, your old energy supplier will add what you owe to your final payment. If you have debts more than 28 days old, you’ll need to pay what you owe before you can switch.
If you’re on a pre-payment meter and you owe £500 or less, you can ask for your outstanding balance to be transferred to your new energy supplier under the Debt Assignment Protocol (DAP).
How do I switch energy suppliers?
Switching itself is really simple. Just use our energy comparison service. There are three steps to the process…
- Tell us about your energy use
We’ll ask you some questions including who your current supplier is, how much energy you use and what tariff you’re on. You’ll be able to find all the answers on your latest energy bill or annual statement. If you’re not sure what to look for, check out our guide to Understanding your bill. If you don’t have your bill handy, you can complete a simpler quote by telling us who your energy supplier is and how much you pay per month.
- Get your quotes
We’ll run a search and provide you with a list of quotes based on the information you’ve given us. If you’ve given us your tariff name we’ll even be able to show whether you’ll make savings by taking any cancellation fees into account.
- Make the switch
Once you’ve chosen your new supplier from the list of quotes, just wait for instructions. You don’t need to contact your previous supplier as it’s all done for you. Your old supplier will send you a final bill and your direct debit will be automatically cancelled. All you’ll need to do is wait for your new supplier to ask for meter readings on the day of your switch. If you’re in credit with your old supplier, make sure you get a refund.
How long does it take to switch energy suppliers?
Your new supplier will tell you the date of your switchover. It should take around 21 days, thanks to the Energy Switching Guarantee, but it can sometimes happen sooner. If you don’t hear anything for up to 14 days, don’t worry. Most suppliers will wait until the cooling off period has passed to start the switching process.
There shouldn’t be any disruption to your supply on the day of the switch, as your gas and electricity will come into your home through the same pipes and wires, whoever supplies it. The only thing you’ll notice are (hopefully) lower bills and a different supplier name.
What if I change my mind about switching?
You’ll get a 14-day cooling off period in case you change your mind. This is a legal requirement and it begins the day after you agree a contract (whether face-to-face, online or over the phone).
Can I switch energy suppliers if I rent?
Yes, usually. As a tenant, you have the right to switch if you pay your supplier directly for the energy you use. Your landlord may have named a ‘preferred supplier’ in the rental agreement, and it’s worth letting them know your decision, but this won’t affect your right to switch.
If you don’t have a smart meter and you pick a tariff that requires one to be installed you’ll need to ask permission from your landlord.
If your landlord pays your energy bills and then charges you, you don’t have the right to switch supplier. You can always ask your landlord to change provider, though.
How do I switch suppliers if I’m moving home?
Moving is the perfect opportunity to find a better deal and switch supplier. You’ll need to give your current supplier notice – ideally at least two days before you move.
If you’re happy with the deal you’ve got, you just need to tell your supplier where you’re moving to and the date of the move.
Whether or not you’re changing supplier, take a meter reading just before you leave your home and submit it to your existing supplier. That way you only pay for the energy you’ve used when your final bill for that property comes through.
Once you’ve moved, take a meter reading and give it to the energy provider who supplies your new home. If you’ve decided to switch and haven’t carried your old tariff over, then you’ll automatically be put on the new supplier’s ‘default’ standard variable-rate tariff. These tend to be the most expensive tariffs, so it’s a good idea to compare prices and find something cheaper as soon as possible.
How much could I save if I switch suppliers?
50% of people could achieve a saving of £219.00 on their dual fuel energy costs based on comparethemarket.com data in February 2018. But the best way of finding out how much you could save is to compare energy prices. We’ll show you savings based on your current energy use – you might be surprised at the results.
We can also tell you the highest-saving energy tariffs that we’re seeing each month. For more information, take a look at our Energy Snapshot.
What types of gas and electricity tariffs can I choose when switching suppliers?
Suppliers offer a variety of tariffs, so there’s bound to be one that suits your household. When it comes to thinking about tariff type, consider what’s important to you – for example, do you have a set budget, is flexibility more important than price, or is ease the biggest issue for you? Also don’t assume that getting your energy from one of the ‘big six’ providers means better prices and service – it’s worth shopping around.
Whatever it is you’re looking for, we can help you with our Energy tariffs explained guide.
Will I get a smart meter if I switch suppliers?
Maybe. It depends on where your chosen supplier is with their smart meter roll-out. In a government-led initiative, energy suppliers are required to install smart meters in all customers’ homes by 2020. By the end of 2017, over 11 million had been installed, with many more on the way.
Smart meters use a mobile signal to send data to your supplier, so you don’t have to submit a reading. The meter also sends energy usage information to an in-home display. The idea is that this real-time information about how much gas and electricity you use will help save energy and money.
Find out more about the smart meter roll-out and what it means for you in our guide to smart meters.
Can I switch suppliers if I have solar panels?
Yes. Having solar panels shouldn’t stop anyone from switching energy supplier.
If you generate your own energy through solar panels, you’ll get money back under what’s known as the feed-in-tariff (FIT) scheme. The amount of money you get for your energy is set by Ofgem and you’ll get payments for generating the energy you use, as well as for the excess energy you sell back to the National Grid. The payments themselves are made by a FIT licensee. By law, all of the Big Six energy suppliers (British Gas, E.ON, EDF, npower, Scottish Power and SSE) are licensees, and most other energy suppliers are too.
The supplier who makes your FIT payments doesn’t have to be the same one that you buy energy from and you are free to switch. If you want to, you can also switch your FIT licensee, provided you have a new one ready to take you on.
Can I switch to a renewable energy supplier for my electricity?
Yes. It’s entirely your choice which supplier you switch to.
Renewable energy is booming the UK, and it accounted for 50% of energy generation capacity around the world in 2016.
Some energy firms source 100% of their energy from renewables, such as wind or sunlight. Others offer a mix of green energy and energy from traditional fossil fuel sources. The terms and conditions should give you a breakdown of what comes from where.
Renewable energy could cost more, so isn’t always realistic if you’re on a really tight budget. As an alternative, consider paperless billing instead or look for suppliers that invest money in environmental projects.