Switching energy

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Switching energy

Energy’s one of those things that we just take for granted, you flick a switch and hey presto! But like all good magic tricks it can be difficult to pin down how the whole process actually works, which can make it feel like you’re trapped on an energy plan that Houdini might struggle escaping from. So if you want to explore your options why not read our guide to switching energy suppliers, we’ll even explain the whole switching process so it won’t feel like a baffling smoke and mirrors trick.


And if you don’t know your Economy 7 from your fixed rate and pre-payment plan, don’t worry, because we’ll explain energy tariffs too. Plus, if you’re worried about something going wrong, you can put your mind at rest by reading about the energy switch guarantee. So find out more and switch energy suppliers today.

Looking for something else?

Energy tariffs explained

How often do you check your household bills?  Do you know what tariff you’re on or how much you’re spending? Or do you just avoid checking them because they’re a reminder of the money you have to part with? Or maybe you just don’t have the time? Whatever the reason, checking your energy bill is a quick and easy way of knowing whether you’re on the best tariff for you. Read more.

Frequently thought questions

We don’t like to brag, but here at comparethemarket.com, we saved our customers more than £87 million in 2016 by helping them switch energy supplier.** However, you might have lots of questions about how it all works and why you should even bother.

So, here you are – we’ve put together some of those frequently thought questions about why you should switch, so that you can finally get some answers.

What do I need to know before I switch energy suppliers?

The thing to find out before switching, is whether or not your current supplier charges an exit fee for leaving. The information will be on your bill so it shouldn’t be hard to find.

If you are charged for leaving, it might still be worth your while to switch. But if it’s not, then wait until you receive a notice from your supplier 42-49 days before your contract is due to end – if you decide to switch during this time, you can’t be charged for leaving. Your supplier should send you a letter highlighting this notice period.

You’ll also need to make sure that you pay any outstanding bills before you leave your existing supplier. If you’ve got debts that are more than 28 days old, you might find you can’t switch until you’ve paid them.

If you rent and pay your supplier directly for the energy you use, then you have the right to switch. It’s worth knowing though, that your landlord can ask you to switch back to the original provider when your tenancy runs out.

However, if you pay your landlord for your energy, you don’t automatically have the right to switch – you’ll need to ask your landlord (and they don’t have to agree).

How do I switch energy suppliers?

Switching is the easy part. Just answer some questions on comparethemarket.com and wait for the prices to show.

If you’re wondering what sort of questions they are and whether they’ll be hard – then don’t worry, all the answers can be found on your last energy bill or annual statement. If you haven’t got a clue how to read your bill, then find out in our guide to Understanding your bill.

Just to give you an idea, we’ll ask you things like, who your current supplier is and what tariff you’re on as well as how much energy you use (this can be in kilowatt hours (kWh) or in pounds). We’ll also ask you what it is you’re looking for – such as tariff type. Once you’ve answered the questions, we’ll run a search and bring back a whole load of quotes based on what you’ve told us.

And if you have a smartphone then life just got even easier. Download our Snapt app which will do everything for you – just point your phone at the QR code on your last bill. The code tells us everything we need, so you don’t even have to answer any questions.

How long does it take to switch energy suppliers?

It should take around 21 days to switch, but some do it quicker – which is a vast improvement on the two-month waiting time customers used to have.

It doesn’t matter who provides your energy, it comes into your home through the same pipes and wires so there shouldn’t be any disruption to your supply even on the day of the switch. The only thing you’ll notice are lower bills and a different supplier name.

What should I know before I switch energy suppliers?

Check whether any exit fees apply and make sure there are no outstanding bills to pay, ensure any credit owed back to your account is settled too.

It’s also good to know that you have a 14-day cooling off period if you change your mind.

How do I switch suppliers when moving home?

Moving home is the perfect opportunity to switch supplier and find a better deal and it’s just as easy as switching when you’re not going anywhere.

When you move, the main thing is to give your supplier a notice – ideally at least two days.

Of course, you don’t have to change supplier if you’re happy with the deal you’ve got. If that’s the case, then you just need to tell your supplier that you’re moving, along with your new address and the date of the move.

Whether you’re saying goodbye to your energy supplier or not, before you leave your old home, take a meter reading and submit it to your existing supplier. This ensures you only pay for the energy you’ve used when your final bill for that property comes.

Once you’ve moved, take a meter reading and tell the provider who supplies your new home what it is – this is so that you only pay for what you use going forward. If you’ve decided to switch and haven’t carried your old tariff over, then you’ll automatically be put on the new supplier’s ‘default’ standard variable rate tariff.

Standard variable tariffs tend to be the most expensive tariffs that the suppliers offer, so it’s a good idea to make searching for a good deal, a priority on your ‘to do’ list.

Can I switch energy suppliers if I rent?

Tenants have the right to switch if they pay for their energy direct to the energy supplier. Check your rental agreement as your landlord may have a ‘preferred supplier’ although this won’t affect your right to switch. It’s also always worth telling your landlord or letting agent about your decision.

If your landlord pays your energy bills and then charges you, you don’t have the right to switch supplier. You can of course ask your landlord to change provider, but they don’t have to do so.

If you do change supplier, then be aware that your landlord can ask you to swap back when your tenancy comes to an end.

How much could I save if I switch suppliers?

On average, we have found that customers could save up to £221** on their energy bills by switching.

The only real way of finding out how much you could save is to comparethemarket.com. When you search with us, we’ll show you savings based on your current energy use – you might be surprised at the results – give it a go, you’ve got nothing to lose and potentially lots to gain.

What tariff types can I choose when switching suppliers?

Suppliers offer a variety of tariffs, so there’s bound to be one that suits your household. When it comes to thinking about tariff type, consider what’s important to you – for example, do you have a set budget, is flexibility more important than price, or is ease the biggest issue for you – in which case a dual fuel tariff might be right.

You can even get green energy if protecting the environment is high on your priority list, but whatever it is you’re looking for, we can help you with our Energy tariffs explained guide.

Will I get a smart meter if I switch suppliers?

That depends on where your chosen supplier is with their smart meter rollout. Although it’s a government initiative, it’s down to energy companies to manage their own timeline of installation.

The aim is for as many homes as possible to have a smart meter by 2020 and it’s estimated that by then, every UK household will have been offered one.

Smart meters will put an end to estimated bills as they send data about your actual energy usage back to your supplier in near real time.

Along with a smart meter, you’ll get an ‘in-home’ display which tells you how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence; it should hopefully encourage all of us to be more energy efficient (and save some money at the same time). Find out more about the rollout and what it means for you, in our Smart meter hub.

Can I switch suppliers if I have solar panels?

Yes – having solar panels shouldn’t stop anyone from switching energy supplier.

If you generate your own energy through solar panels, you’ll get money back under what’s known as the feed-in-tariff (FIT) scheme. The amount of money you get for your energy is set by Ofgem and you’ll get payments for generating the energy you use as well as for the excess energy you sell back to the National Grid.

The payments themselves are made by a FIT licensee (by law, all of the ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers are licensees, and most of the other energy suppliers are too, through choice).

The supplier who makes your FIT payments doesn’t have to be the same one that you buy energy from and you are free to switch.

If you wanted to, you could also switch your FIT licensee, but you’ll need to check that anyone you choose is happy to take you on

Can I switch to a renewable energy supplier?

It’s entirely your choice. There are lots of different options when it comes to finding a green energy supplier so it’s worth taking the time to work out what’s most important to you.

Some energy firms source 100% of their energy from renewables – such as wind or sunlight. Others offer a mix of green energy and energy from traditional fossil fuel sources – if this is a more practical option then read any T&Cs carefully because it should give you a breakdown of what comes from where.

Think outside the box too – renewables are all well and good, but it could cost more, which isn’t always realistic if you’re on a budget. So, think about doing things like getting paperless billing instead or look for suppliers that invest money into environmental projects. You can find out more in our frequently thought questions about renewable energy.

So, now that you’re familiar with the theory of switching suppliers – how about doing it for real and see what you could save.

**50% of people could achieve a saving of £221 on their duel fuel energy costs based on comparethemarket.com data in May 2017