Guide to switching energy suppliers

With energy prices continuing to rise, now’s the time to consider switching your supplier to get a great deal on your gas and electricity.

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

If you want to switch energy suppliers, start by finding out whether your current supplier will charge an exit or cancellation fee. You’ll find this information on your energy bill. If they do, you’ll need to work out whether you’ll still save money by switching.

If the exit charge outweighs any savings you might make, wait until you receive a notice from your supplier 42-49 days before your contract is due to end – if you decide to switch during this time, you cannot be charged for leaving. Your supplier should send you a letter highlighting this notice period.

Can I switch if I owe money to my current supplier?

If you have an outstanding bill less than 28 days old, then your existing supplier will add the amount you owe to your final payment. If you have debts more than 28 days old, then 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, then you can ask for your outstanding balance to be transferred to your new energy supplier under the Debt Assignment Protocol (DAP).

Switching supplier

How do I switch energy suppliers?

That’s the easy part. Just use our energy comparison service. We’ll ask you some questions – 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 simple guide to Understanding your bill.

To give you an idea, we’ll ask who your current supplier is and what tariff you’re on, as well as how much energy you use. Once you’ve answered the questions, we’ll run a search and provide you with a list of quotes based on the information you’ve given us. Don’t worry if you don’t have your bill handy, you can complete a simpler quote by simply telling us who your energy supplier is and how much you pay per month.

Once you’ve chosen your new supplier from the list of quotes, all you’ll need to do is make sure you take a meter reading on the date that the swap has been set for. Then you can pay off any outstanding bills you have and cancel any direct debits you have with your existing supplier. If you’re in credit, make sure you get a refund.

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How long does it take to switch energy suppliers?

It should take around 21 days to switch, thanks to the Energy Switching Guarantee, but it can sometimes happen sooner. Your new supplier will tell you the date when the switchover will happen. 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 lower bills and a different supplier name.

What if I change my mind about switching?

No problem, you’ll get a 14 day cooling off period to change your mind. 14 days is a legal requirement and begins the day after you agree a contract (this can be face-to-face, online or over the phone).

Can I switch energy suppliers if I rent?

If you rent, you have the right to switch if you pay your supplier directly for the energy you use. Check your rental agreement as your landlord may have a ‘preferred supplier’, although this won’t affect your right to switch. And it’s always worth telling your landlord or letting agent about your decision.

If your landlord pays your energy bills and then charges you, you don’t have the right to switch supplier. You can, of course, ask your landlord to change provider, but they don’t have to do so.

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

Moving home is the perfect opportunity to find a better deal and switch supplier. You’ll need to give your current supplier notice though – ideally, at least two days before you move. Of course, you don’t have to change supplier if you’re happy with the deal you’ve got. If that’s the case, then 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. This ensures 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, so you only pay for what you use going forward. 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 make searching for a good energy deal a priority.

How much could I save if I switch suppliers?

On average, we’ve found that customers could save up to £240** on their energy bills by switching. But the best way of finding out how much you could save is to compare energy prices with us. 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 – just take a look at our Energy Snapshot for more information.

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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. 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?

That 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 customers’ homes by 2020.

These new smart meters use a mobile signal to send meter readings to your supplier, without you having to do anything. In addition, the meter wirelessly sends energy usage information to an in-home display. With this real-time information about how much gas and electricity we’re using, it’s hoped that we’ll all cut down on the amount of energy we use and, as a result, save 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 are licensees, and most of the other energy suppliers are too, through choice).

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 wanted to, you could also switch your FIT licensee, but you’ll need to check that anyone you choose is happy to take you on

Can I switch to a renewable energy supplier for my electricity?

It’s entirely your choice which supplier you switch to. There are lots of different options when it comes to finding a renewable energy supplier of electricity, so it’s worth taking the time to work out what’s most important to you.

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 – if this is a more practical option, then read any terms and conditions carefully because it 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 budget. As an alternative, consider paperless billing instead or look for suppliers that invest money in environmental projects.

Compare energy prices today

If you want to find out if you can save money by switching energy suppliers, why not start right here and now. Use our energy comparison service to find the right deal for you and make the switch today.

 

**50% of people could achieve a saving of £240 on their duel fuel energy costs based on comparethemarket.com data in August 2017

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