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A guide to switching energy suppliers

Energy costs can be a significant portion of a household’s total bills. Consider switching your tariff or supplier to get a better deal on gas and electricity.

Energy costs can be a significant portion of a household’s total bills. Consider switching your tariff or supplier to get a better deal on gas and electricity.

Written by
Sajni Shah
Utilities comparison expert
Reviewed by
Rebecca Goodman
Personal finance expert
Last Updated
13 MAY 2024
13 min read
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With new deals starting to come on to the market, our energy comparison service is up and running again. Sign up for our switching alerts and we’ll let you know when new energy deals become available. It’s simple and you’ll get some energy-saving tips too.

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How do I switch energy suppliers?

Switching energy providers is easy and you’ll never lose your supply in the process – guaranteed. You can switch gas or electricity only, or switch both together on a dual fuel deal.  

Follow these simple steps to see if switching suppliers is worth your while:

  1. Find a recent bill – when you use our switching service, we’ll show you an estimate of your current tariff and energy usage, as well as a comparison with average usage in your area. Check the estimate is accurate by comparing with a recent energy bill. You can change anything that isn’t right.
  2. Get a quote – use our energy comparison to get a quote in minutes.
  3. Compare tariffs – uusing our comparison tool, you’ll be able to compare tariffs from different energy providers to see if you could get a better deal.
  4. Start switching – once you’ve chosen a new tariff and started your switch application, wait for instructions from your new supplier.
  5. Pay the last bill – you’ll get one final bill from your old energy supplier. Make sure to get a refund from them if you’re in credit.

What do I need to know if I want to switch energy suppliers? 

The minimum amount of information you need to switch energy suppliers is how much you currently pay for your gas and electricity supply, and who your supplier is.

When you compare with us, we’ll show you an estimate of your usage, calculated using trusted industry sources. But you might want to check it for accuracy against a recent bill. You’ll also need basic details like your address and postcode.

We’ll also show you the exit fee of your current tariff, if any, which you’ll have to factor into your quote.

If any exit charge outweighs savings you might make, wait until you receive a notice from your supplier confirming the contract is coming to an end. This should arrive 42 to 49 days before the last day of your contract. You won’t be charged for leaving if you decide to switch during the final 49 days of your contract.

When’s the best time to switch energy suppliers?

Choosing the right time to switch energy providers can be tricky – especially when prices are volatile. You might be alerted to the fact that you could be paying less by your supplier on your bill.

However, you might find the best time to switch is:

  • Before winter arrives, if you’re not on a fixed-term tariff. 
  • When you suspect prices are about to rise. Price changes to standard variable tariffs usually follow changes to the energy price cap. This limits the amount suppliers can charge you for each unit of energy and standing charge if you’re on a standard tariff. Between 1 July and 30 September 2024, the cap is set at £1,568 a year for a typical dual fuel household paying by direct debit.
  • Just before your current deal ends. 
  • When you move home. A change in the number of rooms, different heating systems and even appliances could alter your energy usage. 
  • When your circumstances change. For example, if you’re on an Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff and you retire from work, your power usage during the day is likely to increase.
  • If you’ve paid off a supplier debt. Some providers won’t let you switch while you owe them a long-term debt. Once you’ve managed to clear the debt, it could be worth shopping around for a cheaper deal.   
  • If you’re unhappy with the service you receive from your current supplier.    
  • If you want to switch to a green tariff.

When shouldn’t you change energy suppliers?

It’s not a good idea to change energy providers if you have to pay a penalty or exit fee to leave your current contract, and the penalty is larger than any potential savings you could make. If you’re within 49 days of your contract ending, you should be able to switch early without paying a fee, under Ofgem regulations.

How long does it take to switch energy suppliers? 

Switching times can vary among providers. But if your new supplier is signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee, you should be moved onto your new tariff within five working days. 

You’ll have a choice of switching within or after your 14-day cooling-off period. 

  • If you switch within the cooling-off period, your switch should complete within five working days of agreeing your new contract.
  • If you opt to wait until the cooling-off period is over, your switch should happen five working days after it ends. 

There won’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.

Can I switch energy supplier at any time? 

You can switch energy supplier whenever you like. But if you’re still in contract and an exit fee would cost more than any savings you’d make on a new tariff, it might be better to wait until your contract is coming to an end.

How many times can I switch my energy supplier? 

There’s no limit to the amount of times you can switch energy supplier.

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 if I owe money to my current supplier? 

You may be able to switch suppliers if you owe money to your current supplier (sometimes called ‘energy debt’). If you’ve been in debt to your supplier for fewer than 28 days, you can still switch – your old energy supplier will add what you owe to your final bill. However, if you have debts more than 28 days old, you’ll need to pay these off 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).

Can I switch energy suppliers if I rent? 

Yes, you causually switch energy suppliers if you rent.

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, but this won’t affect your right to switch. However, it’s worth letting your landlord know if you’re going to switch energy suppliers.  
  
If you don’t have a smart meter and you choose a tariff that requires one to be installed, Ofgem recommends you tell your landlord first.

You don’t have the right to switch supplier if your landlord pays your energy bills and then charges you. But you can always ask your landlord to change energy provider.

How do I switch energy suppliers if I’m moving home?  

Moving can be 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 have, you may be able to take it with you. You’ll need to contact your supplier to find out if this is possible. Check your supplier’s website for details of when and how to do this.
  
Take a meter reading just before you leave your old home and submit it to your existing supplier, even if you’re not changing supplier. That way you only pay for the energy you used, when your final bill for that property comes through. 

Once you’ve moved, take a meter reading in your new home and give it to the energy provider who supplies your new home.

What types of gas and electricity tariffs can I choose when switching suppliers? 

Energy suppliers offer a variety of both single and dual fuel tariffs. When thinking about tariff type, consider what’s important to you. For example, do you have a set budget or is flexibility more important to you than price?

And don’t assume that getting your energy from one of the well-known providers means better prices and service. It’s usually worth shopping around.

Read our guide on energy tariffs explained

Will I get a smart meter if I switch suppliers? 

It depends on what stage your chosen energy supplier is at with their smart meter roll-out.

Smart meters use a mobile signal to send data to your supplier, so you don’t have to submit gas or electricity meter readings. The meter also sends energy usage information to an in-home display.

Typically, the in-home display will let you know how much gas and electricity you’re using. The idea is that this real-time information could help you save energy and money.

Read our guide to smart meters

Can I switch suppliers if I have solar panels? 

Having solar panels shouldn’t stop you from switching energy supplier.

If you generate your own energy through solar panels, you may be getting money back under the old Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) scheme or its successor the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).
  
The supplier who makes your SEG payments doesn’t have to be the same one that you buy energy from – and you’re free to switch. If you want to, you can also switch your SEG 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.

Some energy firms source 100% of their energy from renewables, such as wind or solar. Others offer a mix of green energy and energy from traditional fossil fuel sources. Check the terms and conditions, which should give you a breakdown of what comes from where.

Most renewable energy tariffs now cost about the same as a regular tariff, which is great news if you’re looking to go green. However, some of the ‘gold standard’ energy tariffs can be more expensive.

New energy deals are available now. See if you could switch to a better deal. Compare energy