Energy prices are going up fast – what can I do to reduce the impact, and what should I do if my provider goes bust?
The recent increase in wholesale energy prices has led to some providers going bust. Find out more about what’s happening and what you can do about rising energy prices. If your provider collapses and stops trading, fear not – Ofgem will switch you to a ‘supplier of last resort’. See what happens if your supplier goes bust.
Why should I switch gas and electricity?
There are several reasons why you should consider switching your energy supplier:
- Getting a cheaper deal – by comparing energy providers each year, you can potentially save hundreds on the cost of your gas and electricity.
- Better service – you may be unhappy with the service provided by your supplier. With Compare the Market, you can make energy comparisons based on the supplier ratings of all our partners, allowing you to find the best energy supplier for you.
- Greener energy – with us, you can find a supplier who uses more renewable energy. It may also save you money.
Whatever your reason, only Compare the Market customers get rewarded for switching by getting a whole year of Meerkat Meals & Meerkat Movies*.
How long does it take to switch energy supplier?
After getting your quick quote through Compare the Market, and completing your online application to move to your new tariff or provider, you can begin the switching process. Your new supplier may reach out to your existing one on your behalf, but be sure to check this to avoid any delays to your new service. This will activate your ‘cooling off’ period, which usually lasts around two weeks. From start to finish, you should expect to be up and running with your new energy provider in approximately three weeks, but this may vary.
Frequently asked questions
Who is the cheapest energy supplier?
The energy market is extremely competitive, with tariffs and prices changing frequently. The cheapest rates are always moving between energy suppliers – that includes the Big Six as well as the medium and smaller suppliers. This makes it difficult to say for certain which supplier is the cheapest.
Because of this, it’s important to compare energy suppliers on a regular basis. Letting your tariff slip from a fixed period contract to a variable one is one of the costliest moves in energy, so be aware of when your current tariff is coming to an end.
At Compare the Market, we can help you stay on top of the latest energy deals from all of our providers. You can quickly compare providers at any time, to find the cheapest energy supplier for you. Or set up energy savings alerts and AutoSergei will do the legwork. You'll never have to spend time searching for our best energy deals again.
Which energy supplier is the best?
Who the best energy supplier is depends on what’s important to you. Is it the supplier who’s cheapest? Has the best ratings? Or is the most environmentally friendly?
With all of these factors, it’s impossible for us to say who the best energy supplier is. What we can do is present you with options to help you make the right choice for you.
It’s important to understand that the energy market is constantly changing. New tariffs are introduced to the market, supplier ratings change and greener energy sources are always in development. For this reason, it’s important that you compare energy providers regularly.
How much can I save by switching energy suppliers?
Switching your energy supplier regularly is a great way to save on your monthly bills. The energy market is highly competitive and new deals become available on a regular basis. It’s common to forget or put off looking at your energy tariff, which means you can slip onto a more expensive variable tariff without even realising.
Variable tariffs are often the most expensive, which means there are potentially huge savings to be made by switching to a fixed-rate tariff through Compare the Market.
How do you compare energy costs?
Compare the Market can quickly help you find cheaper energy tariffs. With just a few details, we’ll bring you all of the best deals we can find from our selected partners. Here’s how to get started:
- Enter a few details into Compare the Market, including your postcode and current energy usage (which can be found on an existing bill).
- We’ll find you the cheapest quotes from our selected partners.
- Compare the list of quotes.
- Choose the best energy deal for you.
- Confirm your new tariff, by entering a few extra details, such as your full address and bank details.
Once you’ve selected your new supplier, they'll normally tell your existing provider that you’re switching. Once your “cooling off” period has ended, you’ll be automatically switched to your new tariff.
What information do I need to switch energy provider?
All the information needed to switch energy suppliers can be found on a recent bill. If there isn’t one to hand in your online account or you don't have a paper copy, you can still get a quick quote – it’ll just be based on estimations of your gas and electricity use.
For a more accurate quote, you need to know things like:
- the name of your current supplier and tariff name
- how much energy you use (this can be in kilowatt-hours (kWh) or in pounds)
Not sure where to look? Read our guide to understanding your energy bill.
If you’re on a fixed rate tariff and decide to leave before it ends, check to see whether you’ll be charged an exit fee.
How does switching energy provider work?
It doesn’t matter who supplies your gas or electricity – it all comes into your home through the same pipes, ducts, cables and wires. All switching means is that the supplier providing it changes. When you make the decision to switch, your new supplier will sort out all the details with your existing supplier.
Switching with us is easy, quick and fuss-free. We ask a few simple questions about your energy use and find suitable, available deals based on your answers. Learn more in our guide to the switching process.
Will my gas and electricity be interrupted if I switch?
Your gas and electricity supply will carry on as normal when you switch energy suppliers. The only thing that changes is where your bills come from.
Gas and electricity come into your home the same way, so there’ll be no break in supply and you can get on with counting your savings.
What energy tariffs are available?
There are two types of energy tariff available:
- Fixed-rate tariffs, where the cost of your energy is fixed for a certain period of time, usually 12 months or more
- Variable tariffs, where the cost of each unit of energy you use can go up or down, according to the market.
Find out more in our energy tariffs guide.
What is a dual fuel tariff, and why should I consider switching?
Dual fuel is a type of tariff where your gas and electricity come from the same supplier. Most people opt for dual fuel deals because of the price, but it also makes life a lot easier – you have only one supplier to deal with and one online account or set of paperwork.
Whether you’re looking to find separate deals for your gas and electricity or a cheap dual fuel tariff to combine the two together, you can compare energy suppliers with Compare the Market to find the best deal for you.
Is it more complicated to switch gas and electricity together?
Switching dual fuel is no more complicated than switching one energy type on its own (and that’s simple when you use Compare the Market).
When it comes to searching for quotes, just choose the option ‘gas and electricity’ if you want to focus on dual fuel.
It helps if you have both your latest gas and electricity bill to hand, from your online account or from a paper bill, because the answers to the questions we’ll ask you will be there. If you don’t have a bill, then don’t worry, we can still run a search based on estimations.
Can I switch gas and electricity if I owe money?
It’s always best to sort out any outstanding bills before the official switch date, otherwise, it can make the transition a bit trickier.
When you decide to switch and have got the ball rolling with your new supplier, you should settle any outstanding debts. If you have bills that are more than 28 days old, you might find that you can’t change supplier until you’ve paid them. But there are some exceptions to the 28 days – for example, if you are less than £200 in debt, then your switch could still go ahead as normal.
I'm moving house. How can I switch gas and electricity?
Moving is a great opportunity to reassess your energy deal. If your existing deal is a good one, then it can be carried over to your new home – just tell your supplier the new address and the move-in date.
The day you leave your old home, you should take a meter reading and give this to your supplier – that way you can be sure your final bill will only reflect what you’ve used.
When you arrive at your new home, take a meter reading and make a note of it. You’ll need to find out which supplier provides the gas and/or electricity to your new home and give the meter reading to them. That way, you won’t be paying for the energy used by the previous owner.
When you speak to the existing supplier in your new home, check what tariff you’ll be put on – in most cases, you’ll end up on their standard variable rate, which is usually their default (and often most expensive) tariff.
The one good thing about standard variable tariffs is that they’re flexible and, typically, you won’t be charged an exit fee for leaving. So, once you’ve settled into your new home, you can start comparing energy deals to find one that suits you and your wallet.
Can I switch energy provider if I rent?
Tenants can switch energy providers if they pay the supplier directly for their gas and electricity. Your landlord may have a ‘preferred supplier’ but this doesn’t affect your right to switch.
If your landlord pays your energy bills, then charges you, choosing the supplier is up to them, although you can always ask them to change to get cheap gas and electricity.
Can I get a smart meter if I switch gas and electricity?
It depends at what stage in their smart meter program your gas and electricity supplier is. All energy suppliers must aim to install smart meters in 85% of homes and small businesses in England, Wales and Scotland by 2024. Although the initiative was triggered by the government, the rollout is being managed by individual energy companies.
What that means is that you can get a smart meter if your supplier offers it; or you can wait until they contact you. You can switch supplier in order to get one, but you’ll need to make sure it’s really worth switching just to get a piece of fancy tech.
See more about how smart meters work in our guide to smart meters.
I have solar panels, can I switch a feed in tariff too?
Feed-in-tariffs (FITs) can be switched too, but check that the supplier you want to switch to is happy to pay your FIT.
A FIT is where you get paid for generating your own energy as well as getting money for selling back excess electricity to the National Grid. Most big energy suppliers are also FIT licensees – which means they are registered and able to make FIT payments.
The amount of money you are entitled to depends on how much electricity you generate as well as how many solar panels you have. The price is set by industry regulator Ofgem, so switching energy supplier doesn’t mean you’ll receive more money. However, switching could provide a more efficient service, and therefore faster payments, so considering different energy suppliers could still be very beneficial.
How often do energy prices change?
Energy prices change all the time. They reflect market supply and demand, and fluctuate as a result. They're also affected when wholesale costs change. If you have a standard variable rate tariff, your price per unit of energy used will go up and down with the market.
If you want to know what your unit rates are going to be for a set period of time, you can choose a fixed rate tariff from your energy providers.
Where do the energy price comparison figures come from?
We use Ofgem’s personal projection calculation to show you what savings you can make. A personal projection is designed to help you understand your current situation and tariff and compare what you’re paying now with other providers in a clear and straightforward way so you can make an informed choice.
How do personal projections work with fixed tariff plans?
Your personal projection will take into account what your energy costs will change to once your fixed tariff – or any other type of fixed energy plan – comes to an end. It will assume that you will be rolled on to a standard variable tariff, the suppliers’ default tariff.
As the personal projection calculation factors the remaining time on your fixed plan and the time you would be on the new plan in the next 12 months, the figures will keep changing.
So if, for example, you are on a fixed plan that ends 31 December 2018 and you compare in June, your personal projection might be £800 for the next 12 months. If you check again in September, the figures will be higher. This is because less time remains on your fixed plan and more on the more expensive standard variable tariff.
Our partner energyhelpline.com puts together available tariffs and works out potential savings. They are accredited by industry regulator Ofgem.
When you find a quote that suits your needs, it’s energyhelpline.com who submits your switch application to the relevant energy supplier (such as British Gas or npower).
How do energy comparison sites make money?
Each time someone switches their gas or electricity tariff through a comparison site, the site gets paid by the new supplier – you don't need to pay anything to the comparison site for your switch.
Find out more about how we get paid by energy suppliers.
How else can I save money on energy?
As well as switching suppliers, you can try to be more energy efficient at home. Even showering for one minute less can reduce your bills in the long run – find out more with our top energy saving tips.
You can also get help and advice on reducing your energy use and cutting your power bills from these websites:
- The government’s energy grants calculator can help work out whether you’re eligible for the Warm Home Discount scheme or Winter Fuel Payment. It can also highlight whether you qualify for any funding to make your home more energy-efficient.
- The Energy Savings Trust provides advice on renewables (including feed-in tariffs), home insulation and energy efficiency.
- The Citizens Advice Bureau has general advice and can guide you through the process of making a complaint about your energy provider.