How long does it take to switch energy suppliers?

Christopher Dowling
May 19, 2024

In a nutshell

Switching energy suppliers can take as little as 10 minutes! It’s simple, speedy and could save you over £300 on your energy bills.

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Can you remember when you last switched energy suppliers? Switching suppliers is quick, easy and could save you a ton of money on your energy bills. But according to Ofgem, 49% of people have either never switched or have only ever switched once!

Here, we’ll tell you all you need to know about how long an energy switch takes (clue: it can take just 10 minutes!). But first things first, let’s take a look at why you should switch energy suppliers.

Why switch energy suppliers?

The answer’s actually pretty simple. If you haven’t switched for a while, then chances are you’re paying more than you need to. And let’s be honest, overpaying’s not exactly fun.

Basically, when you first sign up with an energy supplier, they’ll give you a discounted rate to encourage you to choose them. This will usually be a fixed-term tariff, which means you’ll be paying a set price for each unit of energy that you use. 

However, all good things come to an end! This initial deal will only last for a set period of time – often for 12, 18 or 24 months. 

Once your fixed-term tariff ends, your supplier will automatically move you onto a really expensive rate called their standard variable tariff (SVT). Not only will the price you pay for your energy go through the roof, but it can also go up or down without warning!

Most of the time, the SVT will move roughly in line with the price your supplier is paying for energy from the National Grid. But in reality, your supplier can change it whenever they fancy. Essentially, greedy energy suppliers are putting you onto a rate that seriously stinks, hoping that you won’t be bothered to switch or don’t know how to. Urgh!

If you’re on your supplier’s SVT, switching suppliers (or asking your current supplier if they can move you onto a lower rate), will allow you to benefit from one of those lovely lower tariffs all over again. In fact, you could save over £300 (according to Energy UK)! 

If, on the other hand, you’re on a fixed-term tariff, you’ll want to keep an eye on your contract end date and switch to a new supplier before you get put onto your lender’s SVT. Just make sure to time the switch right. If you leave before your fixed-term tariff ends, you may have to pay an early exit fee. But you can switch energy suppliers without penalty up to 49 days before your fixed-rate tariff ends. Simple!

How long does an energy switch take?

Switching energy suppliers can take as little as 10 minutes if you know who your energy supplier is and what tariff you’re on. And if you don’t, it’ll only take you a teeny bit longer as we’ll tell you how to find all that out.

We’ve laid out the steps involved here so you can see how long each one should take. And so you can see just how easy it really is!

1. Find your current tariff details - 3 mins

It’s really easy to discover what tariff you’re on. All you have to do is find your most recent energy bill. This should have details about:

  • Who your energy supplier is.
  • Whether you’re on a fixed-term or standard variable tariff.
  • When your plan ends (if you’re on a fixed-term tariff).
  • How much you’re paying for your energy.

Can’t find your energy bills? Not sure who your supplier is? Don’t panic. You can use the online Find My Supplier tool to find out who your gas provider is and the Energy Networks Association to find out who your electricity supplier is. This might be enough to compare rates as many comparison sites will know what tariffs your supplier will be offering.

However, if you do want to find out what tariff you’re on and you don’t have any bills handy, you can just give your supplier a call (be warned: they’ll probably try to give you a discount at this point but it’s still unlikely to be the cheapest rate out there, so don’t let them put you off comparing!). 

This will add a bit of time to the process, especially if you’re with one of the big energy suppliers that are known for putting you on hold for ages! But it should hopefully still take under an hour. And anyway, it’ll be worth it in the end when you can spend the money you save on all those things you’ve got your eye on – a fancy meal out? A weekend away? The choice is yours!

2. Compare rates - 4 mins

Next, you just have to find a cheaper rate. Don’t worry, this will be super straightforward if you haven’t switched energy suppliers in a while!

The easiest way to compare rates is to use a comparison site. MoneySuperMarket and GoCompare are just a couple of our favourites – check out our reviews page for our ratings of the best comparison sites.

Just remember that your decision shouldn’t be based on price alone. 

We know, we know, everyone loves a good deal. But there are other things that can make an energy supplier just that little bit more awesome – things like great customer service, fast response times and no early exit fees. Octopus Energy  deserves a shout out here. 

Plus, at Nuts About Money, we’re big on going green. And both of those companies use 100% renewable energy sources like wind, solar and water, which we love! Who wouldn’t want to get cost-effective energy and save the world at the same time?!

Renewable energy suppliers Octopus Energy and Bulb

Aside from that, It’s also worth checking out the suppliers who’ve signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee. This is a kind of pact between a bunch of energy suppliers who’ve committed to making it even easier to switch to a new supplier. More on this a bit later!

3. Sign up with your new supplier - 3 mins

Finally, you just have to make the switch official!

If you’ve used a comparison site, this normally means just selecting the tariff you want to switch to and then filling out a few details on the confirmation page. This will include things like your name, address and direct debit details.

Voila! You’re all done! In some cases, you may need to let your old supplier know you’re cancelling your contract. But remember that Energy Switch Guarantee we touched on? If your new supplier’s signed up to it, you’re guaranteed not to have to lift another finger as they’ll sort everything out for you.

How long does it take for an energy switch to go through?

It normally takes around 17 to 21 days for your energy switch to complete. 

Don’t worry! That doesn’t mean you have to do anything during this time. And it doesn’t mean you have to go without energy either! 

Your current supplier will carry on charging you for energy right up until your new supplier takes over. There’s no change in the energy that’s supplied to you – it doesn’t need to get turned off or switched to a different cable or anything like that. Instead, your energy will keep being delivered how it always has and you shouldn’t notice any difference other than lower bills coming through your letterbox (or your online account!).

So, what does happen while your energy switch is going through?

Well, there’s a two-week ‘cooling off’ period where you can change your mind and cancel the switch for free. Your new supplier might also ask you to send them across your meter readings so they can get prepared for the switch. And your old supplier will use this time to settle any payments, for example refunding you if your account’s in credit (kerching!) or taking a final payment if you owe them. 

This should all happen automatically, so there’s nothing for you to worry about. However, it’s always worth checking your bank balance if you’re due a refund, just to make sure that it lands in your bank account. If not, some chasing is in order!

How to save time switching energy suppliers

As you can see, switching energy suppliers is really easy. Like, REALLY easy. So, there’s no excuse to be paying more than you have to.

However, there are a few ways that you can save even more time. Remember that Energy Switch Guarantee we mentioned earlier? 

The Energy Switch Guarantee is an agreement between a bunch of energy suppliers who are committed to making it even easier to switch energy. So far, there are 14 suppliers who’ve signed up, including some more old-school companies (such as British Gas and E-ON), and some of the more modern, fair suppliers – like our favourite Octopus Energy.

If you switch to an energy supplier who’s joined the Energy Switch Guarantee, they’ll handle the whole process for you, including liaising with your old supplier to cancel your contract with them. It also guarantees that:

  • You won’t be without gas or electricity at any point.
  • Any credit from your old energy account will be refunded within 14 days of your final bill.
  • The whole switch will be complete within just 21 days.

In a nutshell, it just means you can rest assured that switching energy suppliers will be simple, speedy and safe.

We’d also recommend choosing an energy supplier who has excellent customer service and a fast response time so that if anything does go wrong, you know they’ll be able to sort it out for you quickly and efficiently. 

For example, Octopus Energy takes on average just 2 minutes to answer customer calls. Plus, instead of fixed-term tariffs, they do low-rate flexible tariffs (so you get to access low rates without being tied into a contract) and they use 100% renewable energy too. Now as far as we’re concerned, that’s something worth switching for!

Ready to switch energy suppliers?

To recap, if you can’t remember the last time you switched energy suppliers, then chances are you’re on your supplier’s SVT. And that means you’ll be paying a lot more than you need to.

To find a cheaper rate, just dig out your most recent energy bill to find out what you’re paying, and then head to a comparison site to see what better deals are out there. Once you’ve found your perfect deal, all you need to do is sign up with your new supplier and they’ll sort out the whole switch for you within 21 days. Told you it would be easy!

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Read our review of Octopus Energy

Planet saving renewable energy that doesn't cost the earth? Here's our review of Octopus Energy.

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