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How long does it take to switch energy provider?

Switching energy suppliers used to be a long and drawn out process. But thanks to government regulations, Ofgem guidelines and the Energy Switch Guarantee, the switching process is now simpler and quicker.

Switching energy suppliers used to be a long and drawn out process. But thanks to government regulations, Ofgem guidelines and the Energy Switch Guarantee, the switching process is now simpler and quicker.

Written by
Dan Tremain
Energy and business energy expert
Reviewed by
Rebecca Goodman
Personal finance expert
Last Updated
17 APRIL 2024
5 min read
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How long does an energy switch take?

The switch should be completed within five working days once you’ve signed up with a new supplier under Ofgem’s Energy Switch Guarantee.

Some switches now take as little as one working day, depending on your meter type and supplier, although you can specify a later date if you prefer.

Before 2022, the switchover time for a domestic gas or electricity supply was up to 21 days. But with switching levels rising as competitive tariffs return to the energy market, Ofgem wants the process to be as quick and easy as possible.

If your new supplier fails to complete the switch within Ofgem’s set timeframe, you’ll be entitled to compensation.

Compensation if energy switches go wrong

From April 2024, your new supplier must pay you £30 compensation if your switch takes longer than five working days.

Previously, suppliers weren’t liable for compensation until 15 days had passed, but under Ofgem’s Supplier Guaranteed Standards of Performance, this has now been substantially reduced.

Suppliers have 10 working days from a breach to pay you. They could owe you a further £30 if they don’t meet this timeline. Ofgem monitors supplier data to make sure they do this.

You should also be sent a final bill from your old supplier within six weeks of a switch. If not, you should receive £30 in compensation.

If you think an issue isn’t fixed or you haven’t been compensated, it’s best to contact your supplier to tell them. If you aren’t happy with their response, make a complaint to Ofgem.

Suppliers may contact you about making a compensation payment. Always ask for further information before giving your personal details.

You won’t get switching compensation if you’re a business energy customer or if your supplier has gone bust.

Why is my energy switch taking longer than expected?

Your switch should go smoothly. But there might be a delay if:

  • Your meter readings take longer to be validated
  • Your meter serial numbers or address are wrong, or some information is missing
  • Your switch is blocked by your current energy supplier because you’re in a debt programme with them.

What is the Energy Switch Guarantee?

The Energy Switch Guarantee is a voluntary agreement signed up to by members of Energy UK – the trade association for the energy industry. As it’s voluntary, it’s not bound by the Ofgem rules.

By signing up, suppliers commit to delivering a set of standards and targets.

Suppliers who sign up to the guarantee promise that:

  • Customers can switch to a new tariff within five working days. Whether you’re changing supplier or simply changing your tariff with your existing supplier, you could be paying new rates and be on a new tariff within days – if that’s what you want.
  • The whole transfer between tariffs or suppliers will be handled by the supplier of the tariff you’re moving to. There’s nothing for you to do: your supplier will be in touch if they need any more information from you.
  • In the unlikely event of any problem occurring, you have the reassurance that the supplier of your new tariff will work to resolve any issue swiftly and efficiently.
  • If you change your mind within 14 days, you simply remain with your existing provider or on your existing tariff.
  • Any credit due will be refunded within 14 days of your final bill.

Providers currently signed up to the guarantee are:

  • British Gas
  • EDF Energy
  • E.ON Next
  • Outfox the Market
  • Octopus Energy
  • Ovo Energy
  • Scottish Power
  • Shell Energy (now owned by Octopus Energy)
  • SO Energy.

According to Energy UK figures for July-September 2023, 97% of switches by signatories to the guarantee were completed in five days or less.

What happens after I switch tariffs?

Once you’ve chosen a supplier and tariff that suits you, you’ll need to give your information to your new supplier and they’ll handle the switch for you. If you use Compare the Market to switch, we’ll pass your information on.

You should hear from your new supplier about your chosen switching date – and they’ll tell you if they need any more information from you.

You won’t need to contact your old supplier, but you might hear from them once they’ve been made aware you’re looking to switch.

On the day of the switch, take meter readings and give them to your new supplier. You’ll get a final bill from your supplier, with a refund if you’re in credit.

If you’ve switched tariffs from a fixed deal before the end of the agreed term, you may have to pay exit fees, which will be added to your final bill.

Will my energy supply be disrupted during the switch?

You shouldn’t experience any interruption to your energy supply during the switch. You’re only switching suppliers, not cables or pipes, so your energy will come to your home in the same way as before. The only real difference you’ll notice is the billing information.

What if I change my mind about switching?

It’s a legal requirement that you’ll be given a 14-day cooling off period that begins on the day after your contract start date. If you change your mind about switching during that period, the contract will be cancelled and you’ll simply stay with your current provider.

During the switching process, you’ll be asked when you’d like to move to your new tariff. You can either switch:

  • As soon as possible after you’ve agreed your new contract, before your cooling off period ends
  • Five working days after your 14-day cooling off period ends.

If you choose a start date within your cooling off period, you’ll need to pay for any energy you’ve used even if you decide to cancel and switch back to your original supplier.

What should I do if I have been wrongly switched between energy suppliers?

If you get an unexpected welcome letter or final energy bill, you could have been wrongly switched. It’s rare this happens, but it could be down to a mistake about addresses, for example.

If it happens to you, contact your old or new supplier to tell them. Tell them you didn’t agree to the switch and ask to cancel it. Once you’ve contacted the supplier, they should write to you, telling you what they plan to do, and then when they plan to reverse the switch or explain why it was correct.

Keep a note of any calls, emails or letters in case you need to complain later.

Citizens Advice can help with what you need to do.

Most switches run smoothly. But if things go wrong, Ofgem’s Guaranteed Standards make sure things are put right quickly and you’re compensated.

How can I save money on other household bills?

Get a quote in minutes and find out if you could save when you compare broadband or TV packages.

It’s also worth checking out our energy-saving tips and reading our guide to heating a home efficiently.

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