Switching your gas and electricity supplier
Find the answers to the most common gas and electricity questions here.
Why should I switch my energy supplier?
Generally, most people switch to save money with statistics from Ofgem (the energy regulator) showing that between June 2017 - June 2018 the average saving was £320 a year - which is certainly not to be sniffed at. Let's also remember that there is no variation in the quality of the product e.g. gas and electricity, so there is no justification for paying more than you need to. It's the same no matter which supplier you are with so it goes without saying that, as consumers, we should be shopping around for the best possible deal and switching supplier.
The reality also remains that apathy to switching costs consumers millions of pounds every year and only serves to benefit the energy supplier's profits. With 54% of UK homes still languishing on "default tariffs", there really is no excuse. If you want cheaper energy, you need to do something about it and grab the opportunity.
In addition, actively switching will create more competition in the market. Something we are starting to see with the steady fall of the so-called "big six" and the emergence of new competitor brands - such as Ovo Energy, Bulb and Octopus to name a few. Latest statistics from EnergyUK back this up showing that 34% of switchers were from larger to small and mid-tier suppliers.
How much money can I save?
This varies by consumer but as a guide, if you've never switched before, you're looking to save around 25% on your energy bills. The UK average energy bill is £1,174 per year meaning savings of 25% would equate to around £300.
How to Switch Energy Suppliers?
The process of switching energy suppliers is very straightforward. It involves the following simple steps.
- Find an Ofgem Confidence Code accredited website - TheEnergyShop.com was the UK's first accredited website back in 2003. Something we're incredibly proud of. To see other websites, a full list can be found here.
- Enter your postcode - This identifies the correct region to base your comparison against e.g. North West. This is because England, Scotland and Wales are split in to 14 different regions which carry varying unit prices for the energy consumed. This is due to different Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) being responsible for the distribution of energy and each region carrying different costs to do that e.g. think of the distribution in the Scottish Highlands versus in a city such as London.
- Enter your current supplier details - To get the most accurate comparison we recommend you do this with a copy of your most recent energy bill to hand.
This will enable you to enter your current supplier, current energy tariff, payment method e.g. monthly direct debit and (crucially!) an accurate view of your annual consumption
in kilowatt hours (kWh) for both your gas and electricity.
If you don't know your current supplier, call the 'Consumer Enquiry Service' on 0870 608 1524 to find out your current gas supplier and Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN).
To find your electricity supplier visit our 'Who Supplies my Energy' guide.
- Run your comparison - Compare energy suppliers and the tariffs on offer to you. As well as price and savings, you may also want to consider customer service (e.g. looking at TrustPilot reviews) as well as the type of tariff itself e.g. variable, capped or fixed rate tariff. For security, we tend to recommend a "fixed" tariff meaning your price will remain the same for the duration of the tariff giving you peace of mind – a blessing in a volatile global energy market. Also, decide what fuel type you want i.e. single electricity, single gas or dual fuel (both gas and electricity together on one bill).
- Switch - Once you've found your perfect energy deal you can switch online with the price comparison website, call the price comparison website or apply
directly with the energy supplier. The switching application itself will take approximately 2 minutes and requires information such as address, contact details and bank details if setting up a direct debit.
And that's it. Your application will be processed and the energy suppliers will do the rest. Your current supplier will close off your account issuing a final bill and confirming whether there is any credit or debt on the account. Your new supplier will set up your new account and start to charge you your new energy prices from an agreed date.
How long does switching energy supplier take?
21 days for those suppliers who operate under the 'Energy Switching Guarantee' (find a list of those suppliers here.Next day switching is in the pipeline too which will mean quicker switching and quicker savings for consumers.
When can I change supplier?
Whenever you want. One thing is for sure in the energy market and that is loyalty means nothing. If you've been with your existing supplier for more than 1-year and haven't switched tariff since then you are overpaying. It's as simple as that. We therefore advise consumers to actively switch their home energy tariff (not necessarily supplier) each year. If you like your current supplier, by all means remain with them but ensure you're on their best possible tariff.
What if I change my mind?
Fear not you have a 14 days "cool off period" in which you can cancel your application and revert back to your previous energy supplier.
How often can I switch?
If you've switched but then hear about a better energy tariff, or you're not happy with your new supplier, you're free to switch every 28 days. However, be careful to check whether your new energy tariff carries any exit fees. These fees range from £25 per fuel to £75 per fuel.
Will there be any interruption to my gas or electricity supply?
No! Your new energy supplier will use the same electricity wires, gas pipes and meters that are connecting your property to the gas and electricity grid now. Your new energy supplier will also contact your existing energy supplier to arrange the transfer of your gas and electricity supply. The only change you will see is that your gas and electricity bill will come from a different energy supplier and, provided that you opted for a cheaper energy tariff, then it will be lower.
If I decide to switch energy suppliers do I need to contact my current gas or electricity supplier?
Your new energy supplier will arrange the switch for you so you do not need to contact your previous gas or electricity supplier.
Will I pay twice?
A few things to consider here:
If your new tariff takes advanced payments this might make it feel like you have double paid so be aware of that. It's a fairly rare thing and applies to smaller energy companies who need the cashflow but one to look out for.
If you've got debt on your existing account this will need to be settled with your existing supplier which again can make it feel like a double payment has been taken.
Your direct debit should be cancelled by your previous supplier but there is no harm in checking this is done yourself which with internet banking is easy enough these days.
How do I know my energy switch is going ahead?
Once you have made your application, you will receive a 'Welcome Pack' from your new supplier confirming your application and requesting you to set-up your new account which will include providing meter readings. You will also receive correspondence from your current supplier to shut down your account, take meter readings and probably say something like "we're sorry you're leaving us!". If you switch through a price comparison website, be sure to also contact them if you have any questions. If you've switched through TheEnergyShop.com, contact us at email@example.com.
When should I cancel the Direct Debit with my current energy supplier?
You should not cancel your Direct Debit with your current energy supplier until the transfer of your gas or electricity supply has been confirmed. This will typically be done in under 4 weeks. You should also pay the final bill from your previous energy supplier before cancelling your Direct Debit mandate with them.
What is dual fuel?
A dual fuel deal is one where you get gas and electricity from the same company. These deals often offer discounts or lower gas and electricity prices, plus the convenience of dealing with a single energy supplier.
Can I switch if I owe money to my current supplier?
If you owe money to your current energy supplier or have a bill outstanding for more than 28 days, you may be unable to switch until you have paid what is due. There are certain cases in which you will still be able to switch, for example if you have a prepayment meter with less than £500 debt for each fuel. If your supplier has notified you of a price increase and you are in debt with them then you have 30 days in which to pay off the debt, and they will not block your transfer. Lastly, if you are in debt with your supplier because of an error on their part (for example if they have not set your direct debit high enough to cover your usage) then they cannot prevent you from switching.
Can my current supplier prevent me from switching to a new supplier for any other reason?
As long as you are not in debt with your existing gas and electricity supplier, they can't stop you from switching.
Who reads the meter when I change supplier?
It depends on your new energy supplier. Your new supplier will either arrange for someone to come and read your meter, or they may ask you to take the reading yourself. We recommend that you keep a note of the reading to ensure that you agree with the final bill from your old supplier when it arrives.
I am a prepayment customer. Can I change suppliers?
Yes you can. There are a limited number of cheaper gas and electricity tariffs available for customers on this type of meter. If you use our energy price comparison tool, you will be able to see which tariffs these are and make the switch. However we always recommend contacting your current energy supplier to ask them to change your meter as a prepayment meter is an expensive way to manage your energy accounts.
Can I switch if I have a smart meter?
Yes. You can switch your gas and electricity supplier or tariff if you have a smart meter but depending on what type e.g. SMETS1 or SMETS2, you may lose the functionality of the smart meter. If you are having a smart meter installed, ensure it is the SMETS2 model to ensure your meter continues to operate as normal between switching energy suppliers.
What should I consider when choosing a new energy supplier?
There are a number of factors that you might want to take into consideration when choosing a new cheap gas and electricity supplier. Some of these are listed below.
- Do you want a single cheaper supplier for both your gas and electricity (a dual fuel supply) or are you just after the best deal irrespective of who supplies it?
- How competitive is the new supplier's tariff and how much will it save you each year?
- What payment options do they offer?
- Do they ask for payment in advance? An increasing number of the smaller energy suppliers ask for the first payment even before you have come on supply with them. We are not keen on this practise as it is indicative of poor financing and suggests an increased financial risk.
- What additional features and benefits come with the new energy deal?
- What can they offer in terms of customer service?
- What is their complaints handling record?
TheEnergyShop.com pulls together all this energy switching information into a single, easy to use place to make it easier for you to make your choice.
Does customer service matter?
Yes, of course it does. Factors such as the range of services a supplier offers, customer service hours, and billing queries handling are all important. How important depends on whether any of these factors are more important than getting the cheapest deal. To help inform you we have included supplier's customer service rating by stars on our website. You can read how we rate energy suppliers here. You can also obtain details of certain energy supplier's complaint records on the Ofgem website. Please note however that complaints and customer service are not necessarily the same thing.
What information will I need to provide to get a comparison quote?
Not much! To compare energy prices you only need to enter your postcode, your current energy supplier and how much gas and electricity you use. It might be helpful to keep a recent energy bill or, even better, your Annual Statement, handy handy.
To make an application to switch to a cheaper gas and electricity supplier, you will need to provide us with your name, address and contact information, your bank details (if you want to pay by direct debit). Sometimes we need to ask for your electricity or gas meter reference numbers, which you can find printed on your bill.
I have special needs. Will my new supplier provide me with the services I require?
All gas and electricity suppliers have special obligations toward elderly, disabled and chronically ill customers. Energy Suppliers must also provide facilities to assist blind, partially sighted, deaf and hearing-impaired customers. This applies equally to both your new and your existing energy supplier. For more information on services for elderly, disabled, chronically sick and special needs customers please read our guide on energy for vulnerable customers.