There’s never a bad time to consider switching your energy deal, but it’s especially true if you’re currently on a variable-rate deal where tariff costs fluctuate and the colder months are just around the corner, when your energy usage rises along with associated costs. In this guide we reveal when and how to switch to a better energy deal.
The simple reason is to ensure you’re not paying more than you should for your gas and electric, whether now or in the future when any fixed-rate deal you might be on comes to an end. Although an increasing number of suppliers are actively alerting customers when their fixed-rate tariff is ending, offering them a range of new fixed-rate tariffs to switch to, some may be content to let your tariff run out before rolling you on to their more expensive standard variable tariff. This will likely lead to more expensive bills and higher monthly payments.
If you’re currently making do with your supplier’s standard variable tariff, then the time to switch is now.
If you’re on a fixed-rate tariff, then check its terms and conditions to see if it comes with any exit penalties – these are fixed sums (typically £15-50 per fuel) you’ll have to pay if you move to another tariff or supplier more than 42-49 days before your current tariff is due to end. Not all fixed-rate deals come with exit fees, and these should be clearly labelled on your bill or as part of the tariff information online. If in doubt, contact your energy supplier.
After you’ve made your first switch, aim to switch every 12-18 months, or whenever your fixed-rate deal is due to expire if it comes with exit penalties. The last thing you want to do is end up back on an expensive standard variable tariff.
Top tip: you can switch tariff while remaining with your current supplier. Even if you decide you don’t want to switch to a new supplier, you should still consider moving from a variable to a fixed-rate tariff for peace of mind as well as – in most cases – cheaper monthly bills.
Other times when you will need to consider switching energy supplier include:
|Selling your house and moving||You may not be able to take your existing tariff with you due to moving to a different part of the UK.|
|Moving into new rented accommodation||If you’re paying the bills in your rented property, you should be able to switch energy supplier.|
|Change in circumstances||Your family may be growing, or your kids have finally left home. Or perhaps your work habits mean you’re at home less frequently during the day. Whatever your reasons, now may be the time to ask questions about your current tariff and supplier.|
|Prices are going up||The Ofgem price caps means you should be informed of any looming tariff changes. Beat the price rise by switching to a fixed-rate deal.|
|You’ve paid off an energy debt||In some circumstances, such as when you’ve owed your energy supplier for over 28 days – you won’t be able to switch until you’ve paid off what you owe. Once done, time to look for a better value deal.|
|Switching meter type||Switching to or from a prepayment meter means you’ll need to change tariff too.|
If you’re on a deal with no exit fees, then you can switch immediately. This should cover all standard variable tariffs as well as several fixed-rate ones, but not all.
If your fixed-rate deal comes with exit fees attached, you’ll need to wait until what’s known as the ‘switching window’ comes into effect. This happens when your supplier notifies you 42-49 days before your current tariff comes to an end, at which point you’re free to shop around for a better deal and switch to another energy supplier without incurring any penalties. Switching outside this window will make you liable for fixed penalties – typically £30 per fuel (so £60 on a dual-fuel plan). You’ll need to factor this into the cost when comparing new deals with your current one.
Remember, it takes 21-28 days to complete an energy switch, so don’t delay when that switching window opens to avoid spending a few days on your supplier’s standard variable tariff before your new deal kicks in.
Yes – it’s a simple six-step process as described below:
Gather the required documents – typically a recent bill will contain all the information you need, but you’ll also need your bank details to set up payment.
Use a price comparison website – save time comparing deals across dozens of suppliers by using a price comparison site like Uswitch.com.
Enter your postcode – energy prices vary from region to region, so providing this ensures you receive accurate quotes from tariffs and suppliers who serve your location.
Enter your usage – input your household’s energy consumption details to improve the accuracy of your quote. If you can’t find this from a recent bill, complete the questionnaire about your household’s size and habits to receive a rougher estimate.
Compare results and pick your plan – the site will display a list of matching results, which you can filter to come to a decision based on your priorities, whether it’s choosing a green energy plan or selecting a multi-rate tariff such as Economy 7.
Confirm the switch – once you’ve found the supplier and plan you want, confirm the switch using the comparison site. All you need to do is provide your address and payment details, and your chosen new supplier will handle the switch for you.
The only occasion where your supplier can block your switch is if you’ve been in debt to it for 28 days or more. If you’ve been in debt for less than this period, the amount owing is simply added to your final bill. This includes any exit fees you may incur if you switch from a fixed-rate deal outside of the switching window.