Due to the energy crisis switching suppliers is unlikely to save you money, but there are plenty of other reasons to switch including customer service and accessing enewable energy tariffs.
Thinking about switching? There are a few things you need to know, and some stuff you need to look out for, to make sure you get the deal that is right for you.
What you need to know
Before looking at switching, you need to be able to understand your current energy bill. To ensure a supplier or comparison site gives you accurate comparisons you should ensure they’re doing so based upon your current tariff and consumption information. Take a look at our understanding your bill guide to find out more.
You can use a comparison website to determine if you’re on the best deal. They will use the above information and calculate it against the costs of each different supplier and tariff.
You can find all this information on a recent bill, or by calling your current supplier. Ideally, you will be looking for your annual consumption – this is how much you have used in the past year. You will also need to know the name of your current tariff, when it ends, and if you have any exit fees. Your payment method is also important, but we will touch on this later.
What to look out for when switching
There are a few things you need to consider when deciding what’s the best deal for you:
Price – Saving money used to be the primary driver for switching suppliers. It is likely you will only save around 1-2% against the standard tariff by switching.
Tariff Type – There are two types of tariff: Variable, or fixed (for a year, or sometimes two or three!)
A variable tariff is covered by the energy price cap and will usually change every 3 months as the price cap either rises or falls.
Fixed deals can give you peace of mind as the tariff can’t change for the length of the contract. Fixed deals come with exit fees.
Payment Method – How you pay for your energy can have a big impact on the price, but also on how easy it is to manage your bills. You usually need to agree to direct debit to access fixed-price deals. Prepayment and Direct debit variable tariffs are similar in price, but if you want to pay on receipt of bill you’ll usually pay substantially more.
Exit Fees – Most fixed price tariffs will come with exit fees. In some cases these can be around £200. If variable tariff prices fall, you could be locked into an expensive tariff and needing to pay a huge exit fee to be able to leave.
Online or Offline – Suppliers have traditionally offered a discount for managing your account online. This is now becoming the default option for many suppliers who will insist you manage your new account online. Some suppliers are now offering ‘app-based’ management too.
Smart Meters – If you have smart meters you may lose some functionality if you switch to a different supplier. This shouldn’t be a problem with the 2nd generation of smart meters, but you should speak to the supplier if you’re unsure before agreeing to switch.
Customer Service – Customer service is important and, if you have any problems, a supplier who takes customer service more seriously may be a better option. It’s always worth checking reviews of companies online.
Discounts & Schemes – If you get the Warm Home Discount, take this into account when switching suppliers. Not all suppliers offer the £150 grant so if you’re eligible you should take this into consideration.
Energy switch Guarantee – Some suppliers have signed up to this voluntary code of practice, which aims to give consumers confidence that the switch will be handled smoothly and efficiently. If you’re concerned about the switch going wrong (which is very unlikely anyway), make sure you switch to a supplier that has signed up to this. You’ll also get your final bill in less than 6 weeks and any credit balance refunded in 14 days.
Online comparison sites are often the best way to compare tariffs. We recommend using the Citizen’s Advice Energy Comparison tool due to its ease of use and the available information, including highlighting which suppliers offer the Warm Home Discount and sign up to the Energy Switch Guarantee.
As energy prices still remain incredibly high, most available fixed price deals are unlikely to yield any significant savings and are likely to come with hefty exit fees. Should prices fall you could find yourself locked into an expensive tariff.
You should ALWAYS use your annual energy consumption estimate for a current bill when doing a comparison. Otherwise a supplier may estimate your expected usage which will give you an unrealistic quote. It’s also a good idea to compare the unit rates and standing charges on your current tariff to the new one to make sure it’s actually cheaper. You can find the current expected October 2023 variable prices in our post here.
Should I switch?
Current high prices mean it’s pretty much a gamble either way.
You can stick with the variable tariff, which could lead to you missing out on some small energy savings. If energy prices increase again, you could end up missing out on some savings.
You can opt for a fixed-price deal which gives you peace of mind, but could lead to you being locked into a higher price tariff should energy prices fall, with high exit fees to pay if you want to leave likely wiping out any potential savings.
Compare using impartial information
Some suppliers may use employees, representatives or agents to canvass potential new customers. We would always suggest seeking impartial advice or using an online comparison site before switching suppliers.
Agents representing a specific company are unable to provide impartial advice about what tariff is best for you and are only providing details of tariffs for one company.
Some agents may also misrepresent the benefits of switching to their company with unrealistic savings or benefits. If you are approached by a representative of a company at your door, out in public or online – politely decline.
After you’ve switched
After you have asked your new supplier to take you on as a customer they will handle the switch on your behalf. This process typically takes up to around 21 days usually during which your new supplier will coordinate with your old supplier to transfer your supply. You will receive a final bill from your previous supplier within 6 weeks of leaving, and your new supplier will begin providing your energy once the switch is complete.
You should provide meter readings on the day of the switch to your new energy supplier.
The Energy market is quite turbulent currently and prices and tariffs can change over time, so it’s a good practice to review your energy plan at least once a year. By staying informed and comparing options, you can identify opportunities for potential savings or greener alternatives.
Support from Cosy Kingdom
Would you like some more advice switching suppliers? Cosy Kingdom is a free and impartial energy advice service available to everyone living in Fife.
Our energy advisors can be contacted by: