In a nutshell
Switching energy providers can take as little as 10 minutes! All you have to do is choose a new deal and if your new provider is signed to the Energy Switch Guarantee, they’ll sort out all the rest for you.
Haven’t switched energy providers in a while? Tired of paying through the roof for your gas or electricity?
If it’s been more than a year or two since you last switched energy suppliers, you’re almost certainly paying more than you have to. Here, we’ll take a look at why, and we’ll reveal how to switch energy providers so that you can start making a saving.
Is it worth changing energy provider?
Yes, yes and yes again. Switching energy provider is oh-so-worth it. By switching, you’ll be able to access lower price tariffs and save up to £300 on your energy bills (according to Energy UK). Here’s why.
When you first sign up with an energy provider, they’ll give you a special, discounted price to encourage you to choose them. Normally, this will be a fixed-term tariff, which means you’ll know exactly how much you’re going to be paying for each unit of energy that you use (known as a kWh).
But (and here’s the important bit). This lovely, lower rate won’t last forever. Normally, your provider will put you on a contract that lasts just 12, 18 or 24 months. Once your contract ends, your supplier will suddenly hike up the prices by putting you on something called their standard variable tariff (SVT).
This new tariff is not only a lot more expensive, but it can also go up or down without warning. Normally, this is roughly in line with what your supplier is paying for energy from the National Grid. But in reality, your supplier can change it whenever it takes their fancy. Not good!
Your supplier is basically just reeling you in with a nice deal and then putting you on a seriously rubbish rate, hoping that you can’t be bothered to switch or don’t know how. In fact, Ofgem revealed that a whopping 19 million households in the UK are on SVTs and paying more than they need to. Don’t fall into that trap!
By changing energy provider when your fixed-term tariff is due to end, you can avoid the price hike and get access to those lovely discounted tariffs all over again (or just a lower variable tariff with a company that doesn’t do teaser rates). Get in!
Can I switch energy providers at any time?
Technically, yes, you can switch energy providers whenever you want. BUT watch out. If you switch while you’re still on one of those nice fixed-term tariffs we told you about, you’ll normally have to pay an early exit fee. This can be anywhere between £10 and £60.
There are a few nice energy suppliers who’ll pay your exit fees for you to encourage you to switch to them. But most of the time, it’s best to wait until you only have 49 days or less left on your contract. At that point, you can switch energy supplier without penalty. Happy days!
On the other hand, if you’re on your supplier’s dreaded SVT (and let’s face it, if you haven’t switched for a year or two, you probably are) then you can leave without penalty whenever you want. In fact, you’ll want to do so as soon as possible so that you’re not overpaying for a minute longer. Chop chop!
If you can’t remember the last time you switched energy providers, you can be 99% sure you’re safe to switch without penalty. But it’s probably worth checking whether or not you’re on your lender’s SVT just to be safe. You can find out by logging into your online account or glancing at your latest energy bill.
Not even sure who your supplier is? Don’t worry. You can use the online Find My Supplier tool to find out who your gas provider is, or find your electricity supplier by searching for your energy network operator on the Energy Networks Association. Then, just give your supplier a call to find out what the deal is.
How to switch energy supplier
Okay, so now for the bit you’ve been waiting for. Follow these simple steps to learn how to switch energy supplier and benefit from those lovely lower tariffs we keep banging on about!
1. Compare better deals
First things first, you’ll need to find a better deal. Which will be super easy if you’re on your lender’s standard variable rate (SVT)!
The easiest way to find the right tariff for you is to use a comparison site like Compare the Market, MoneySuperMarket or Confused.com. All you have to do is tell them a bit of info about where you live, how big your house is and how you want to pay for your energy, and they’ll show you the cheapest deals that fit the bill.
If you tell your current supplier you’re shopping around for a better deal, they’ll probably offer you a better rate to encourage you to stay. But stay strong! It probably won’t be as good as what you could get by switching. And like we’ve said, it’s so easy to switch! So, make sure to use a comparison site and compare what’s out there all the same.
That said, remember that choosing the best supplier and deal for you isn’t just about price. There are other things to think about too, like customer service and where your energy comes from. At Nuts About Money, we love suppliers who are doing their bit to save the planet by using renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. Octopus Energy and Bulb deserve a shoutout here!
We’d also recommend choosing a supplier who’s signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee, which is a kind of pact between energy suppliers who promise to make switching as easy as possible. We’ll take a closer look at how to choose the right supplier a bit later. But for now, let’s move onto step 2…
2. Select your deal
Browsed your chosen comparison site for the best provider and deal for you? Now you just have to select the tariff you want to switch to.
Your comparison site will take you to a confirmation page where you can enter a few details, like your name, address and direct debit info. Then, voila! Your energy switch will begin!
3. Sit back and relax
All that’s left is to sit back, relax and let your new energy supplier handle the rest for you.
Depending on which energy supplier you’ve chosen, you might have to contact your old supplier to tell them that you’re leaving. In this case, you’ll just need to find out from your new supplier what date they’re going to switch you over, and then tell your old supplier you want to cancel from that date.
However, if you choose a supplier that’s signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee, you won’t have to lift another finger. They’ll sort everything out for you. And we mean everything! That includes contacting your old supplier to cancel your contract with them, and sorting out the timings so that you won’t have to go a single minute without energy while the switch goes through.
The only thing you’ll need to do is give a final metre reading so your old supplier can send you your last bill and your new supplier knows when to charge you from. But other than that, you can just put your feet up and turn on the telly while your new supplier gets to work. Enjoy!
How long does it take to switch energy supplier?
It can take as little as 10 minutes to find a better deal and sign up with your new supplier. Read our guide to how long it takes to switch energy suppliers for a full breakdown. However, it normally takes between 17 and 21 days for your energy switch to go through.
Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean that you have to go for 17 to 21 days without energy! In fact, you won’t end up without energy at all, as your energy will carry on being delivered in the same way as normal – the only change you’ll notice is cheaper energy bills once the switch is complete!
So, why the delay?!
Well, energy suppliers have to give you a 14-day ‘cooling off period’ where you’re allowed to change your mind and cancel the switch free of charge. Plus, they’ll need to spend a bit of time getting things ready for you. Your new supplier will usually ask you to send them across your meter readings. And your old supplier will use the time to send you a final bill if you owe them money, or a refund if you’re in credit (result!).
You won’t have to worry about any of this as it should all happen automatically. However, if you’re due a refund, it’s always worth checking your bank balance to make sure it’s gone through!
How to choose which energy supplier to switch to
Okay okay, so we know you want your energy as cheap as possible. Who wouldn’t?! But it’s not all about price.
There are more than 50 energy suppliers to choose from in the UK, so the chances are there are going to be a few that can offer you a decent deal. To help you choose which cheap deal you want to go for, here are some factors to consider when you’re umm-ing and ahh-ing.
Energy Switch Guarantee
Remember that Energy Switch Guarantee we mentioned earlier? That pact between energy suppliers promising to make switching even easier than it already is?
Well, there are currently 14 suppliers signed up to it. That’s right, there are 14 suppliers who have promised to:
- Sort out the whole switching process for you, including contacting your old supplier.
- Make sure you won’t be without gas or electricity at any point.
- Complete the whole switch in 21 days or less.
- Ensure any credit from your old energy account is refunded within 14 days of your final bill.
Not bad, right?!
Some of the energy suppliers who’re signed up are older, more traditional companies like British Gas and E.ON. Others are newer suppliers that are trying to change the way things are done to make them fairer, like our favourites Octopus Energy and Bulb.
All this to say that there’s a lot of choice and… if we were you… we’d probably choose a supplier who’s signed up to it. No pressure though!
What if you could get your energy while saving the world at the same time? Well, the good news is, you can!
At Nuts About Money, we love all things green. So, we love energy suppliers who use 100% renewable energy sources – that’s mainly wind, solar and water. Imagine being able to switch on a light or slow cook your evening meal without having to feel an ounce of guilt?! Bliss!
There are lots of energy suppliers that can offer 100% green electricity, but a lot of them will need you to select a specific tariff for this. British Gas, E.ON, Npower and EDF Energy are a few examples.
We’re not convinced by these suppliers for two reasons: first, they offer non-renewable energy on most of their tariffs, so we’re not sure they can genuinely be trying to fight climate change at all. Second, they don’t offer green gas.
Green gas is basically the climate-friendly equivalent of natural gas (that’s a nasty, non-renewable fossil fuel that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere). Just like natural gas, green gas is sent to the National Grid and delivered to homes across the UK. But unlike natural gas, it’s almost carbon neutral as it’s made from biodegrading natural waste like crops and manure. Lovely!
If you truly care about the environment, it’s worth checking out energy suppliers that only use renewable sources for electricity, and who do their bit with green gas too.
Green Energy UK is the only supplier in the UK to have 100% green gas, while Bulb has 10% green gas (plus, Bulb donates £2 to fight climate change when you switch, which makes it even nicer in our eyes). Octopus Energy sadly doesn’t offer green gas, but it can offset 100% of the carbon generated, which is pretty good as far as we’re concerned. Plus, these three suppliers all offer 100% green electricity too. What more could you ask for?!
Ever been left on hold for hours when you’ve tried to give your energy supplier a call? That’s exactly why we think it’s so important to consider customer service when you’re choosing your supplier. Ultimately, being able to resolve any issues quickly if things go wrong makes life so much easier.
Funnily enough, the suppliers that tend to have the best reviews are actually newer suppliers who are trying to make the industry a better place. Think suppliers like Bulb and Octopus Energy (we know, we know, they keep cropping up… but they are pretty great!). For instance, Octopus claims to answer customer calls in an average of just 2 minutes. Makes a change, right?!
Ready to switch energy providers?
Remember, if you haven’t switched energy providers in a while, you’re probably paying a lot more than you need to. By switching providers, you could not only save up to £300, but you could also benefit from better customer service and, if you opt for a green provider, save the planet at the same time!
If you’re looking to find the best price alone, head over to a comparison site. If you’re keen to swap to a supplier that guarantees to make life easy for you, check out the companies who’ve signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee. Or, if you want a supplier who provides 100% green electricity, read our review of Octopus Energy.
You’ll be getting cheaper bills before you know it!