Switching energy supplier isn’t as complicated as it might sound, and it could save your household hundreds of pounds each year. If you haven’t switched in a while, here’s our easy guide to energy comparison.
How do I switch energy supplier?
To help take you through the energy switching process, we’ve outlined five easy steps to follow. Comparing energy deals should only take around 10 minutes, while the whole process of switching to a new tariff should take no longer than 21 days.
1. Gather details about your current energy supply
The first step is to gather some details about your existing set up. If you don’t have a paper bill, search your email, or you may even have the supplier’s app.
At a minimum you’ll need the name of your supplier but it also helps to know:
- The name of your current energy tariff
- The amount of gas and electricity you use – either in kilowatt hours (kWh), or how much you spend per year in £s
If you are on a fixed rate energy tariff, double check its end date to avoid being stung by penalty fees by leaving early.
2. Run a quote
Now you’re ready to compare energy tariffs and hunt out the best deal.
As well as details from your energy bill, you’ll also need to enter personal information such as your postcode, the type of building you live in and how many people live with you.
You’ll then be presented with a list of energy tariffs to choose from.
3. Compare energy tariffs
When comparing energy tariffs, as well as the cost of each tariff, consider customer satisfaction ratings for each supplier, and what type of tariff would best suit your household (more on this later).
Keep in mind that you’ll usually be given a discount if you choose to pay for your energy bill by direct debit. You may also save money if you choose to buy your gas and electricity from the same supplier – known as a dual-fuel tariff.
Some energy tariffs also require you to have a smart meter fitted so check carefully. If you don’t already have one, all households in England, Scotland and Wales must be offered a smart meter by mid-2025.
4. Confirm your switch
Once you’ve found a suitable energy tariff, you’re ready to confirm your switch. Do this by clicking on the deal you’ve chosen, and you’ll be taken to a confirmation page where you’ll need to fill in some additional information such as your full address and bank details.
5. Pay your final energy bill
At this point there’s little else to do. Your new supplier will get in touch with your existing one to arrange a switching date. It will contact you within 14 days with confirmation.
In fact, your new supplier will take charge of the whole switching process. All you need to do is to take meter readings on the day of the switchover and pass these on to both your old and new suppliers.
Your old supplier will send you a final bill no later than six weeks after the switch. If you had credit in your old energy account, this will be refunded within 14 days of your final bill, while if you owed money, this will be added to your bill total.
6. What type of energy tariff should I choose?
When comparing energy tariffs, you’ll need to decide whether you’d prefer a fixed rate tariff, where the amount you pay per unit of gas or electricity remains the same for the length of the deal, or a variable rate tariff, where the amount you pay per unit can change during the term of your plan.
Fixed rate tariffs can shield you from price increases for the duration of your plan (usually 12 or 24 months), but you may have to pay a penalty fee (around £30 per fuel) should you need to get out of your deal early.
Variable tariffs are more flexible but can work out to be more expensive than a fixed rate tariff. On the plus side, if wholesale energy prices fall, your energy bill may follow suit.
Many energy suppliers also offer green tariffs whereby the supplier will match some or all of the electricity you use with the amount they buy from renewable energy generators. The definition of ‘green’ can vary though, so if this is what you are basing your decicion on, read the small print.
How long does it take to switch energy supplier?
The market regulator Ofgem’s Supply Licence Conditions, which all energy suppliers must abide by, state that suppliers must take all reasonable steps to complete a supplier transfer within 21 days. This includes a 14-day cooling off period, so don’t worry if you haven’t heard anything within the first couple of weeks.
During the cooling-off period, you will be able to change your mind without paying a penalty, in which case you’ll revert to your original tariff. Most suppliers wait until the cooling-off period is over before they start the switching process.
On the day of the switchover, there will be no disruption to your energy supply as your gas and electricity will use the same pipes and wires – nobody will need to come to your house to arrange the switch. In the unlikely event that a problem occurs, it’s your new supplier’s responsibility to fix the issue as soon as possible.
Can I switch energy supplier if I rent my home?
If you rent your home, providing you pay your energy supplier directly and your name is on the bills, you have the right to switch to a different energy supplier if you wish. That said, it’s worth letting your landlord know of your plans in advance.
If your bills are added to your rent or the landlord pays the supplier directly, you’ll need to approach your landlord to find out if switching is possible.