SWITCH YOUR ENERGY SUPPLIER
Make savings of up to £679 per year by switching your gas and electric supplier
Looking for the best deal on gas or electric? Compare suppliers now and find the best home energy deals available…
How to switch energy supplier…
Energy bills are the number one concern for consumers, but there are easy savings to be made by regularly comparing deals and switching to the one that suits you the best.
One of the main barriers preventing many homeowners and tenants from switching their energy provider is that they think the process is too complicated – but these days it is becoming more and more simple and hassle-free to change your gas and/or electric supplier.
To switch your energy supplier, you will need the following information:
“Further home energy savings can be made by ensuring your home is as energy efficient as possible.”
- Your postcode
- The name of your current gas and electricity supplier, and the name of the tariff you are on (look at your latest bill, or contact your supplier)
- How much you currently spend (or use in kilowatt hours – kWh) on gas and electricity. This will be on a recent bill from your supplier
- An up to date meter reading
- Your Meter Point Access Number (or ‘MPAN’) and Meter Point Reference Number (or ‘MPRN’) – these should be on a recent bill
- Your bank details if you wish to switch and set up a direct debit
If you don’t have any of the above information you can still switch, just select ‘don’t know’ on the relevant parts of the comparison tool. However it is recommended that you have all of the details available to ensure you get the most accurate quotes and deals.
When is the best time to switch gas and electric suppliers?
Energy suppliers change their tariffs regularly and are always adding new deals and price packages, so it’s not always easy to know when the optimal time to change providers is.
We would recommend that, as a general rule, you should be looking to compare prices every six months or so to make sure you are up to date and on the cheapest deal possible.
As well as that, we have listed some common time to switch below…
When you haven’t switched provider for a while
Ask yourself, when was the last time you changed your home energy provider? If the answer is ‘never’, then you will almost certainly find a better deal by comparing and switching suppliers immediately. Usually, energy tariffs don’t last more than 12 months – so when that time is up your supplier will probably automatically place you on their standard tariff. As you can probably guess, the ‘standard’ tariff is often one of their most expensive – so if you are on a standard tariff you should be looking to switch.
If you have switched previously, but not in the last 12 months or so, then it is definitely worth comparing tariffs as your original tariff could well has lapsed into the standard tariff by now.
The good news is that switching is a very simple and straightforward process nowadays, and should take less than 10 minutes
When prices go up
Another good time to compare and switch energy suppliers is when prices are expected to rise. Typically, when one of the ‘big six’ energy providers announce a price increase then the whole market tends to follow suit. When a wholesale energy price rise is announced it is a great time to check the market and see if you can switch to a cheaper ‘fixed rate’ tariff before the price rise takes effect.
The trick here is to be quick off the mark, as providers tend to have a set number of ‘pre-price-rise’ fixed rate tariffs available – effectively limiting the amount of customers who can take advantage before the cost goes up.
Naturally, there are a lot of customers looking to sign up to the best deals before prices go up so you need to act quick when price hikes are announced.
Before winter comes
We all use a lot more gas and electricity in the winter months, so it stands to reason that a good time to switch is before that extra usage really begins.
When your current deal expires
It’s now a legal requirement for all energy tariffs (except the standard ones) to have a specified ‘end date’, so it is essential that you take note of when yours expires and then look to switch to the next best deal when it expires.
Most tariffs are set to run for 12 months, so bear that in mind and don’t necessarily expect your current supplier to keep you notified of when it is set to expire. You have to be proactive and take control to avoid paying more than is necessary on your home energy bills.
You are free to begin arranging a new energy contract when your ‘switching window’ opens – which should be 49 days before the stated end date of your current tariff. By sticking to this you will not incur any cancellation fees by signing up for a new energy contract during your switching window.
Switching energy suppliers is the best way to make sure you save money and are not paying more than you need to for your home energy. At the end of the day, it is the same gas or electric coming through the pipes/wires of your house – so why should you be paying more per unit for it? Even if you don’t want to switch provider (i.e. your current supplier offers great customer service), then you should still look to see if there are any better deals on offer from them.
Energy tariffs explained
When you begin to look more closely at energy deals and all the different tariffs that are available, it can start to get a bit confusing. Below we’ve put together a quick guide detailing all of the most common tariffs and what they actually mean…
Standard (or variable) tariff
The dreaded ‘standard’ tariff that energy suppliers like to move you to after your initial deal has expired. These are also known as ‘variable’ tariffs as the prices can go up or down.
They are flexible because they tend to be the energy supplier’s ‘default’ pricing plan, which fluctuates depending on wholesale prices, interest rates and so on, and as such they usually do not have any exit or cancellation fees associated with them – so you can switch whenever you want.
Fixed rate tariffs
As the name suggests, a fixed rate tariff means you pay a fixed rate for your energy for the stated length of the contract (usually 12 months but some can run to 18 months). Once this period is up you are free to switch again to a cheaper deal. If you choose to leave before this though, you will probably have to pay a cancellation fee.
The cost of exiting or cancelling an energy contract differs depending on the supplier, with some costing as low as £10 and others upwards of £100 – so be sure to check this before switching.
This tariff means your energy price will be capped at a certain point and will not exceed the agreed amount. The price you pay can go down as well as up, but never beyond the pre-agreed limit.
These tariffs might be for you if you like a certain level of stability and will know what the maximum amount you could be billed, but the downside is you probably will not be getting the cheapest energy price on a capped tariff and you will also more than likely have to pay a cancellation fee to switch early.
Dual fuel tariff
On a dual fuel tariff you will get both your gas and your electricity from the same supplier, which can make things a lot simpler and easier to organise. You will likely also benefit from some attractive price deals as well as many suppliers offer discounts and incentives to get you to double your custom with them.
Don’t get too blinded by what look like enticing deals though, as you could still save more if you got separate tariffs for your gas and electric – so it’s always worth comparing what’s available before committing to anything.
More and more energy providers are offering tariffs that cut out any unnecessary post and phone calls by allowing customers to deal with everything online.
Online tariffs tend to be the cheapest option – mostly because they mean less overheads for the supplier – but it does mean everything will be online i.e. all your billing documents and other correspondence.
For those who want to do their bit for the environment, then green tariffs can offer a variety of options. One popular option is for the supplier to ‘give back’ whatever amount of energy you use to the National Grid as renewable energy.
Another option is that the provider can supply your home with renewable energy, or a certain percentage of renewable energy, or may use some of your payments to contribute to environmental projects.
Green tariffs aren’t necessarily the most expensive options, but they will almost certainly not be the cheapest. If you are concerned about your carbon footprint though they can be a great option.
Economy 7, Economy 10, or time of use tariff
With both Economy 7 and 10 tariffs you’ll usually get cheaper ‘off peak’ energy for either seven or ten hours a day – depending on the package you choose. The Economy 7 package typically has it’s off peak hours between midnight and 7am, whereas Economy 10 packages spread the cheapest hours throughout the day at set times.
Off peak energy can be cheap and you’ll also get a special meter to monitor rates, but whatever energy you use outside of the off-peak times will be charged at a much higher cost – so proceed with caution…
This is the home energy equivalent of a pay as you go phone, you’ll be fitted with a pre-payment meter and need to pay for the energy before you use it by topping up the meter online, with a key, card or tokens – depending on supplier. It’s usually the most expensive way to pay for your energy but it does give you total control over what you’re using and spending.
Feed in tariff
This is when energy suppliers pay you because you produce your own energy, whether it’s from solar panels or wind turbines. Being paid to generate your own energy is great but you’ll need to buy and fit the equipment needed which can be costly.