Switching energy supplier
Thinking about switching to a new supplier? According to the energy industry regulator, Ofgem, switching could save you around £300 a year. And, despite what you might have heard switching gas or electricity supplier is very easy.
How can I find out if I could save money?
The best and easiest way to find out if you could save money by switching is to use an independent comparison site.
We recommend using the Energy Helplines site energyhelpline.com/cse-switch, but you can use any of the others listed below. They are all accredited by Ofgem and give accurate and impartial information about tariffs.
www.energyhelpline.com | 0800 074 0745
www.uswitch.com | 0808 1783 492
www.moneysupermarket.com | 0845 345 5708
www.theenergyshop.com | 0845 330 7247
www.simplyswitch.com | 0800 011 1395
www.energylinx.co.uk | 0800 849 7077
www.myutilitygenius.co.uk | 0203 468 0461
www.switchgasandelectric.com | 0871 711 7771
www.ukpower.co.uk | 0808 250 7341
www.unravelit.com | 0800 862 0021
www.which.co.uk/switch | 01992 822 867
www.runpathdigital.com/gas-electricity | online only
www.Quotezone.co.uk | online only
To get the best out of a comparison site you’ll need to know:
- How much you currently pay per unit for electricity or gas.
- How much electricity or gas you have used in the last year.
- If you will be charged for switching supplier (exit fees).
It’s very important to bear in mind that an offer from your new supplier may be only temporary, and that in due course you’ll be put on a more expensive tariff. You should check this before making any commitment to switch.
Once you've switched, your old supplier is not obliged to reimburse you any credit left behind on your old account unless you specifically ask for it. You can claim credit back from an old account no matter how long ago it was. If you think your old supplier owes you some money back following a switch, visit myenergycredit.com.
What information will I need?
Recent changes have made switching energy suppliers much simpler. One of these changes has been to ensure the bills you receive contain all the information you need to accurately compare energy suppliers. This can usually be found underneath the section called “about your tariff” (or something similar).
This box should tell you:
- The name of the tariff you're on.
- How you pay for your energy.
- If you have to pay any fees to exit your tariff.
- How much energy you use per year in kilowatt hours (kWh).
You’ll also need to know the name of your current supplier.
Every gas and electricity supply has a unique reference number and you may be asked for this when switching. They are unique to your house and won’t change if you change supplier. The gas reference is called the Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) and for electricity it’s called the Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN). These are not the same as your customer account number or your meter serial number (printed on your meter). If you need to find them they should be located somewhere on your bill.
What’s the process of switching?
Once you’ve agreed a deal with your new supplier you’ll sign a new contract with them. They will then let your old supplier know you are leaving. The process of moving can take up to 21 days, but your new supplier should manage the process so contact them if you experience problems. Your old supplier will then send you a final bill to pay.
Am I allowed to switch if I’m renting?
If you live in a rental property and your name is on the bill, you have the right to switch to the energy supplier of your choice even if your tenancy agreement says otherwise. You also have the right to change your meter from a prepayment to a credit meter (or vice versa), although you may be obliged to change it back at the end of your tenancy.
The exceptions to this are if your landlord’s name is on the bill. If your landlord or lettings agency is unreasonably preventing you from switching you can contact Citizens Advice for guidance.
Will I have to take metre readings?
Taking regular meter readings is one of the best ways to stay on top of how much energy you are using. If you don’t submit meter readings to your suppliers they may send you bills based on estimates and these can be inaccurate.
Some suppliers may offer you a smart meter as part of your deal. If you already have a smart meter which automatically sends meter readings to your supplier you may lose this functionality if you switch. This won’t stop you from switching; it just means you’ll have to send meter readings manually.
Is it cheaper to pay by direct debit?
Usually, yes. Energy suppliers can no longer offer 'discounts' to direct debit customers, but as they can still restrict access to the most competitive tariffs to those prepared to pay by direct debit it amounts to a discount in all but name.
The other advantage to paying by direct debit is that it spreads the cost of fuel evenly over the course of the year, avoiding high winter bills.
Direct debit payments are based on estimates of how much energy you will use, and as these are frequently over or under estimated you should still take regular meter readings and check your bills.Your supplier is only obliged to attempt to read your meter once every two years so, to avoid shock bills, send a meter reading every time you receive a statement. Your direct debit should be reviewed at least once a year to make sure you're not paying too much and building up credit, or too little and building up debt.
Is it cheaper to buy both electricity and gas from the same supplier?
Often, but not always. Buying both fuels from the same supplier is convenient but may not be the cheapest option. If you have one supplier for gas and a different one for electricity then you can check with both to see which would offer you the better deal to become a dual fuel customer. However, to find the cheapest available tariff it’s better to use an independent comparison service and check tariffs from separate suppliers as well as dual fuel options.
Are internet tariffs cheaper?
Switching to an online tariff can save you a further 10% on your bill but not all suppliers offer this. The only thing that will change is that you will get your bills by email rather than through the post.
What’s a fixed deal tariff?
A fixed deal tariff means the rate you pay for each unit of gas or electricity you use, and for your daily standing charge, won’t go up for the duration of your contract (though how much you pay each month will still be affected by how much energy you use).
If your supplier drops its prices after you've started your contract with them then being on a fixed deal might mean that you end up paying more. However, in recent years the trend has been for energy prices to go up rather than down; so being on a fixed deal tends to offer better value than being on a variable rate tariff. In some cases it’s free to exit a fixed rate contract but in other cases you may have to pay.
What if I change my mind?
By law you have 14 days “cooling off” period to change your mind without incuring a penalty, starting from the day you take on a contract with a new supplier.
Take a look at our dedicated switching website to find the best deal. Visit cse-switch.org.uk
Switch suppliers now
CSE has formed a partnership with energyhelpline to make it easier to switch. See www.cse-switch.org.uk
Priority Services Register
If you live in the green or blue areas, we can sign you up to your local priority services register if you're over 60 or you rely on electricity for medical or mobility reasons or you have a hearing or visual impairment or a long-term health condition.
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For more domestic energy advice, view all our advice pages.
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