The ultimate guide to switching your energy supplier

When it comes to our utility bills, we tend to have a certain reservation when it comes to switching them. Perhaps we just like the comfort of knowing that if we stay with our current provider, we’ll be hassle-free, despite having a bit less money in our pocket. This can well be the case with many utility bills; however, gas and electricity certainly isn’t one of them. In fact, there’s not much in this world that is quite as simple. Switching your tariff is certainly the number one way to save money on your energy bills, but how do you actually switch? And what details do you need in order to do it? Follow this guide and you’ll have it all switched over in no time.

How much will you save?

You’ll have probably seen the numerous advertised saving amounts that you will “definitely” save. However, this not the case. The exact amount that you will save is subject to a large number of variables, the likeliness of which coinciding with the advertised amounts is about as likely as winning the lottery. This is not to say that you won’t save as much as you’ve seen advertised, because you might actually save more. But, you won’t generally save the exact amount advertised.

Your savings will vary depending on a number of things, such as:

  • Your location
  • Your usage amount
  • Your current tariff
  • Time of switch
  • Meter type
  • Payment method
  • Billing preferences

At any given time, switching from the most expensive tariff on the market, to the cheapest, with the average uk consumption  of 3,100 kWh of electricity and 12,500 kWh of gas, will save you around £350 per year.

How do you you switch?

The two most common ways to switch nowadays are both online: going directly through your potential new supplier; or switching through a comparison service. Switching through a comparison engine is certainly the most efficient and accurate method of switching your tariff. By entering your info, you will be able to see all the tariffs available to you across the market, giving you a non-biased overview of each supplier’s current deals. Via this method, you will be able to filter through each supplier as if you had all supplier pages open, so you won’t be losing out on any deals.

What information do I need?

You probably need a lot less information than you think. Most suppliers can now switch you over to a new tariff with as little as your name, address and bank details, which doesn’t require much preparation, I’m sure! There is, however, some more information that can be of great use when making your comparison, helping to make it more accurate. This includes:

  • Personal information (Name, address, etc.)
  • Bank details (for the direct debit)
  • Current tariff
  • Yearly usage/spend
  • The type of meter you have
  • Your prefered payment method

All of this information can be found on your energy account, so don’t fret if you don’t know what something means. Just log into your account or give your supplier a call to find out.

How long does it take?

Your part is over within 5 minutes; however, the actually switch time on the supplier’s end can take a little longer. Due to OFGEM regulations, the switching process can now take no longer than 21 days. Averages times  change daily, but you will most likely be waiting around 17 days before your switch has fully taken place. Following this time, you will also have a period of 14 days, called a ‘cooling off period’, which is your right as a consumer to be able to change your mind. During this time you are legally permitted to change your mind about your newly contracted tariff, and cancel with no financial or legal repercussions. Outside of this time, if you wish to cancel, you may be subject to an exit fee, which is generally between £30-40 per fuel.

What to consider when choosing a tariff

It may seem pretty straightforward: switch to the cheapest tariff in your comparison quotation and have done with it. However, there are some things that you should perhaps first consider before jumping into anything. It is possible that you will end up going for the cheapest tariff in the end, but it is worth checking over a few things before you make any rash decisions. Here’s some things to think about:

  • The length of the proposed contract
  • Whether you want to have a fixed or variable unit rate
  • Whether you’d like to have a renewably sourced supply or not
  • Does your tariff have any exit fees?
  • Does your tariff have a low standing charge but a very high unit rate?
  • How good are the customer service ratings for your potential new company