Energy switch - all you need to know about changing energy suppliers

Switching energy suppliers and getting a better deal is usually quick and simple. All you have to do is get a quote and decide on the best tariff for you.

There are some aspects of switching energy suppliers that may be confusing, such as when it's best to switch, what happens when you have a smart meter or how long it takes.

Read this handy guide to changing your electricity and gas suppliers by the end you should be ready to switch like a pro!


How to switch energy suppliers?

Switching your electricity and gas supplier is straight forward and definitely worth it. Here's how to do it in four easy steps:

  1. Have your current tariff details and energy use to hand - it is a good idea to have your most recent bill handy, but you can just do with your postcode and current energy provider and tariff name. 
  2. Get a quote either from your chosen new provider or use a comparison website if you're not sure who you want to switch to. 
  3. Choose the quote you like the best and your new supplier will do everything else for you. 
  4. Your new supplier will let you know when your energy is switched.

How long does it take to switch energy suppliers?

It should all happen within 21 days of your new supplier receiving your application. So, once you choose your tariff, that's the application in. The new energy provider will then crack on with the switch. They'll even contact your old provider to let them know you're leaving and will confirm to you when the switch is finalised.  

 

What information do I need to change suppliers?

It's best to have your recent electricity and/or gas bill - it'll have all the information you need. If you can't find it, don't worry. All you need to know is:

  • Your post code
  • The name of your current supplier
  • The name of the tariff you're on.

 

How can I find out who my current energy provider is?

The UK is split into electricity regions and each region has a local distributor that has a record of who supplies electricity to every home in that area. Have a look on the Energy Network Association to find your local distributor and they'll help you find your suppliers. 

To find out who your gas supplier is, you can either try the Meter Point Administration tool or give them a call on 0870 608 1524. Simply tell them your postcode and the first line of your address and they'll tell you who supplies gas to your home. 

 

How much can I save when switching suppliers?

This depends on your current tariff, the type of meter you have, how much energy you use, and how you pay for it. EnergyScanner estimated an average household would have saved £180 if paying by direct debit. It's really important to make your own energy comparisons and see what you can really save in your situation. 

 

When's the best time to change energy suppliers?

In theory, you can switch your electricity and gas supplier whenever you'd like and it's best to check for better deals every 12 months or so. Before you go ahead with it, check if your current tariff has any 'exit fees' and how much they are. Even if you have to pay them, do get quotes and compare the tariffs - sometimes it may still be cheaper to get out of the old tariff. 

If you want to avoid exit fees, you can switch to a new provider up to 49 days before your tariff ends. This is known as the 'switching window' rule prescribed by Ofgem. 

If you still have some way to go before your tariff ends, another option is to stay with your current supplier but move to a better energy deal. Most providers will let you do that without having to pay any penalties.

 

What about the best month to switch?

It's really down to personal preference but it's worth looking at a better deal in the summer, especially if you don't regularly provide meter readings.  

Your energy use in the summer will be lower than in the winter. As your direct debit payments stay the same throughout the year, you're more likely to be in credit with your current provider. If you switch at this point, you're less likely to have any outstanding debt you'd have to repay in your final bill.

Saying that, if you provide your meter readings on monthly basis, your bills should be based on your actual energy use rather than estimates. In this case, it shouldn't really matter when you switch.

 

Do I have to let my current supplier know that I'm leaving?

No, you don't. Your new supplier will do that for you. Just make sure you give your new energy provider the most up-to-date meter readings. They'll give them to your old supplier who will send you your final bill based on those. 

 

What if I change my mind?

That's not a problem! When you switch your electricity and/or gas supplier, you get a 14-day cooling-off period. So, you can change your mind at no cost to you.  

 

How do I know if I should switch my energy supplier?

If you’ve never switched suppliers or haven’t in a long time, you'll most likely be able to get a better deal if you switch. It’s worth checking by using a quote generator. If the quote you get is less than you’re currently paying, and it’s offered by a different supplier, it’s time to switch. If you get a quote that is cheaper than you’re currently paying but it’s offered by your existing supplier, contact them to change the tariff.

 

Will there be any disruption to my energy supply?

No. You won’t be cut off when you switch suppliers. On the day of your switch, you won’t notice any changes. 

 

Will I have an overlap where I’m paying for both tariffs?

As long as you provide correct meter readings when you switch, you won’t pay any more than you owe. Your old supplier will give your readings to your new supplier. If your new supplier asks you to pay a month in advance, you may get overlap in payments. You should check the details of your tariff to see if this applies to you. 

 

Can I change my energy supplier if I have a smart meter?

Yes, you can. The new, second-generation meters, allow you to switch your provider without any disruption to your meter readings or billing. They'll carry on sending your readings automatically and your bills will be based on your energy use.

If you have the first-generation smart meter, you can still switch but you may have to give the meter readings yourself for a bit. All you'd need to do is contact your new supplier and ask them when they'll be able to install the new generation smart meter for you. 

If you fancy a second-generation smart meter from us, you'll need to switch your electricity and gas to us first, before registering for your smart meter. 

 

Can I switch energy suppliers if I have debt?

Yes, but it depends on how long you’ve been in debt. If you’ve been in debt for less than 28 days, you can switch. If it’s over 28 days, you’ll need to pay the money back before you can switch. 

 

What about prepayment meter debt and switching?

Yes, you can switch but your debt cannot be more than £500 for either electricity or gas (so, no more than £1000 in total). Your new energy provider will take on that debt and agree with you how to best repay it. 

It'd also be worth having a look at getting a standard or smart meter as energy tariffs on those tend to be cheaper than on prepayment tariffs. 

 

Can I switch my energy if I'm renting? 

Yes, absolutely. This is another of Ofgem's rules - whoever pays the energy bills is responsible for switching and that includes rented accommodation. Even if your rental contract stipulates that you can't change your supplier, Ofgem's guidance overrules it. It's best to have a chat with your landlord first to keep them in the loop. Find out more about renting and energy switch

 

What about changing my supplier when I move home?

You can switch your energy supplier when you move home but you can only do it when the property is yours or you become responsible for it. Bear in mind that the same rules apply as if you were staying in your 'old' home. So, you need to think about exit fees and whether it's still worth switching if you have to pay any penalties. 

If your new property has a prepayment meter, your choice of tariffs may be quite limited. If you're happy with this type of meter, shop around for the right tariff. You can also ask your current supplier if they could change your meter to a standard one. 

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you contact your current supplier before you move. Give them at least 48 hours' notice. They'll need your new address and meter readings from your moving day, so they can send you a final bill for that property. Then, once you've moved, make sure to contact whoever you'd like to supply your new home with the meter readings and go from there. 

Find more help about energy and moving home. 

 

What energy tariff shall I switch to?

That really depends on what your needs are. There are many energy deals to choose from and here are some considerations for you:

  • Single fuel or dual fuel. Single fuel refers to just one 'fuel' - either only gas or only electricity. Dual fuel refers to both. 
  • Fixed or variable. Fixed means you'll be fixing your tariff prices for the duration specified on the product. It's typically one or two years. Variable means the price may go up or down. Fixed tariffs will protect you from price increases
  • Tariff bundles. Many tariffs now come with additional extras such as smart home devices or boiler insurance. This 'packaging' tends to be cheaper than if you were to get all of the bundle items separately. 
  • Prepayment. These are tariffs for prepayment meters. There tend to be fewer around and they're not as competitive as standard meter tariffs. However, some providers offer variable and fixed options. 
  • EV tariffs. If you have an electric car, these tariffs offer to power your house and your car. 

 

Read more about the different tariff choices and their pros and cons

 

Can I switch only electricity or only gas? 

Yes, you can. This is often called 'single fuel'. This may be because your property only has electricity so you don't need gas. Or, you may like to have the two fuels with separate suppliers. Although, it's worth bearing in mind that often going for a dual fuel works out better price-wise. It also means that if there are any issues you only have to contact one supplier. 

If you're switching single fuel, there are similar things to consider: any exit fees, price, bundles, etc. 

 

What if there's a problem during my switch?

Energy switch is a smooth process most of the time. However, sometimes there may be issues such as the switch takes longer than the 21 days or you haven't received your final bill in time. Energy suppliers tend to be pretty good at spotting this and you'd then get a £30 automatic compensation within ten days. If the payment is late, you'd be entitled to another £30. 

If you think there's been an issue but the supplier hasn't recognised it, speak to them. If you're not getting anywhere, you can also complain to Ofgem. Find out more about the compensation process

 

What else should I consider when choosing a new supplier?

There are four main questions you should ask yourself when considering a new energy supplier:
 

  1. Do you like the supplier? Customer service is important when it comes to energy, so you should choose a supplier that you feel offers the support you need. 
     
  2. What kind of meter do I have? This is useful to know because some tariffs work best with certain meters. If you are unsure what electric meters are, have a read of our handy guide.
     
  3. What are the terms and conditions? Read the small print and check if there are fees involved in call-outs, cancelling your tariff or late payments. 
     
  4. Does the tariff represent your lifestyle? Choose a tariff that will be the best value for when and how you use your household energy. For example, there’s no point choosing an Economy 7 tariff that makes your energy cheaper at a certain time of day if you won’t be at home when the energy is the cheapest.

Having read our guide, have a look at the tariffs that we offer and choose the best one to suit your needs. There's a good selection, including bundles and prepayment tariffs. Don't forget, all you have to do is choose your tariff and we'll do the rest for you. 

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