How to switch energy supplier

You could save money on your gas and electricity by comparing energy prices. Here is how to switch energy supplier and how much you could save by choosing a better deal.
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In this guide you'll find answers to questions including:

  • Why switch energy supplier?

  • Who can switch?

  • Can I switch if I’m in debt to my energy supplier?

  • Can I switch if I use a smart meter?

  • How to switch

  • What else should I consider when switching?

Why switch energy supplier?

Switching your energy supplier could save you money on your gas and electricity.

If you switch, you could:

  • Save more than £200 a year on your energy bills

  • Find a more energy efficient tariff

  • Get greater flexibility to switch in the future

Who can switch?

Anyone who’s responsible for paying their energy bills and is not in debt to their supplier for a period of more than 28 days can switch.

If your landlord pays your energy bills, you cannot change your tariff. However, you can ask them to switch to a cheaper deal which could save you both money.

You can switch your gas and electricity whether you pay by direct debit, online, by cash or cheque, or by prepayment meter, so shop around to make sure you get the best energy price.

Can I switch if I’m in debt to my energy supplier?

Yes, if you’ve only been in debt for 28 days or less. If this is the case, you can switch supplier and any outstanding amount you owe will be added on to your final bill. If you’re worried about costs, switching is a smart option as by transferring to a cheaper deal you’ll obviously save money, which will free up more money to settle your debt.

If you’ve owed money to your supplier for more than 28 days, however, then you can’t switch provider. You must pay off your outstanding debt before you can switch to a different energy plan. Find out more about getting help on clearing an outstanding debt.

Can I switch if I use a smart meter?

Yes, you can switch supplier. Note, however, that if your smart meter is an older generation model (known as SMETS1), it may revert to a standard meter with a digital display when you switch supplier. New generation – SMETS2 – meters don’t have this problem and remain fully functional regardless of which supplier you switch to. The good news is that if you do have a SMETS1 meter, then plans are afoot to roll out software upgrades to make them fully compatible with all suppliers in the years ahead, so unless you’re wedded to the smart meter’s extra features, don’t let it put you off switching to a better deal.

How do I switch energy tariff or supplier?

You can switch your energy service online or by phone, by following these steps:

  • Search deals by postcode because prices are based on where you live, and some energy companies only supply certain areas.

  • Compare tariffs from a range of suppliers to find the best deal. You can compare gas and electricity products here.

  • Enter your energy usage to get the most accurate results. You can find this on your most recent bill, or on your smart meter if you have one.

  • Confirm your switch by providing your new supplier with your full address and bank details. You will also need to give a meter reading on the day of the switch.

You’ll receive a welcome pack from your new supplier with the details of your plan. Your old supplier may contact you if you owe money or are due a refund.

How long does it take?

It usually takes up to 21 days for your energy service to be moved.

Your new supplier will contact your old supplier to agree a switch over date, and let you know when they send out your welcome pack.

If you have switched both your gas and electricity, they may be moved at different times, but your service will continue without interruption.

What if I change my mind?

There’s a 14-day cooling-off period after you switch – if you change your mind, however, you’ll need to contact the new supplier directly. This applies even if you’re using a third-party site to manage your energy providers.

Will I have to pay to switch energy supplier?

You may have to pay a cancellation fee to your existing supplier if you decide to switch. These apply to most (but not all) fixed-price tariffs, and cost anything up to £50-60 per fuel, so if you’re switching both your gas and electricity you could pay around £60 in exit fees. Note, there are no exit fees attached to variable-rate plans.

If you’ve entered the final 49 days of your fixed-price energy deal, you should be able to switch without paying any exit fees. Check your energy bill for more information about the costs of cancelling your service.

What else should I consider when switching?

Before you switch, ask your current supplier if it can move you to one of its cheaper tariffs. This could save you money without having to go through the switching process.

You should also compare service levels. The Citizens Advice website ranks energy companies based on their handling of complaints, from best to worst.

If you get Warm Home Discount with your current supplier, make sure your new supplier also offers the scheme.

Once you have switched, check your bills regularly to make sure you are still getting the best deal.

Find more energy guides here.

Last updated: 9 November 2020