The ultimate guide to switching energy supplier

The ultimate guide to switching energy supplier

01 Mar 2019

Find your way around

Your energy switching options

How do I switch energy supplier?

  • What you’ll need

  • Where to find it

Energy switching step by step

What happens next?

  • How long will my energy switch take?

  • Do I need to contact my old energy supplier?

  • When will I get my final bill from my old supplier?

  • What if I owe money to my old supplier?

  • What if my old supplier owes me money?

  • What if I want to cancel my switch?

Will my energy meter affect my switch?

  • Do I need to get a Smart Meter if I switch?

  • What will happen to my Smart Meter if I switch?

  • What if I have an Economy 7 meter?

  • What if I have Pre-Payment meter?

Common energy switching concerns

  • What happens if I switch and I’m not happy with my new supplier?

  • If something goes wrong will my energy supply stop?

  • What if my current deal has exit fees?

  • Can I switch if I’m a tenant?

Switching to green energy

  • Can I switch if I have solar panels?

If I choose automatic energy switching, what happens next year?

Energy switching; first things first

Switching to a cheaper energy deal. It’s a no brainer right? Maybe in terms of having extra money in your pocket to spend on your next holiday. But as far as the technicalities go, switching energy supplier can be a big brainer! And that’s why we’ve written this super helpful guide to tackle your most common questions.

First, it’s important to realise that switching energy supplier is important. People often don’t realise that when their current energy deal runs out their supplier will move them onto an expensive ‘Standard Variable Tariff’ – over 50% of the UK are already on one! These tariffs are typically hundreds of pounds more expensive than the cheapest alternatives in the market. And in order to get the cheapest energy deals in the market, you need to switch! And you need to switch every single year if you really want to save! It’s the only way to avoid the standard tariffs.

“Ok”, you might be thinking, “I want to switch” … “but I have a million questions about the process, where do I even start?” Don’t worry, we’ll answer all your questions in the coming paragraphs. After all, this is the Ultimate Guide to Switching.

Your energy switching options

Perhaps unsurprisingly there are many approaches you can take when switching to a cheaper energy deal. And some approaches are harder than others. Today we’re going to focus on the least difficult. But in the interest of full disclosure, we’ll run you through all your energy switching options.

Option one: contact the energy suppliers yourself. This is probably the hardest approach. You’ll need a couple of hours, maybe more, a computer or device on which you can browse the internet, and a phone. You’ll need to do your own research and make or find a list of all the energy providers who can supply your property. You’ll then have to hit the phones or use each of the energy suppliers’ websites 1 by 1 to try and track down the best deal. A big catch with this approach is that you’ll also have to remember to do this every single year if you want to stay on a good deal. If you forget, your energy supplier will move you onto their expensive ‘Standard Variable Tariff’.

Option two: use a price comparison website. With just a few of minutes of your time and a bit of information about your energy supply you can see all the energy deals available for you in one place, saving you the hassle of calling around energy suppliers yourself. The drawback with price comparison websites is that they can’t offer you energy deals from every single energy supplier in the market, but there are some good deals to be found. Just like ringing-up energy suppliers though, you’ll need to remember to use price comparison websites every single year if you always want to be on a good deal. Price comparison websites are limited in that you have to keep going back year after year to keep saving on your bills. But people forget and waste hundreds of pounds when their supplier moves them onto an expensive standard tariff.

Option three: sign-up for automatic switching – the new way to switch. Automatic switching hasn’t been around very long but it’s already making a big difference to how people save money on their energy bills. With automatic switching, you compare once, pick a great deal, and sign-up. Then – and this is the good part – your energy is sorted. The automatic switching service will take care of which company supplies your energy, moving you automatically to the cheapest deals available every year. It has all the benefits of price comparison websites without the hassle of having to go through it all over again every single year. What’s better, you’ll never end up on an expensive standard tariff ever again as you’ll get switched to a cheaper energy deal before your supplier can move you onto one. Intrigued? You can read our ‘Ultimate Guide to Automatic energy Switching’ here.

So, these are your three main options when it comes to switching energy supplier. So, what information do you need in order to switch to a cheaper deal?

How to switch energy supplier

What you’ll need

You don’t need much information in order to switch energy suppliers. With Migrate, at least, you can find a better deal with pretty much your postcode and property address. And if you don’t know much about your energy supply and just can’t wait to switch, then go for it! There are some details you can give, however, that can help you to get the most accurate savings quote possible for your energy. What you’ll need is:

  • Your email

  • Your postcode

  • Name of your current supplier

  • Name of your current tariff (+ date the tariff ends, if it has one)

  • The method by which you pay for your energy

  • Annual projected energy usage (If you don’t know this info, not a problem. We can give you an accurate estimate of what your energy tariff will be)

Where do I find all this information?

Annual projected energy usage, what? Your annual projected energy usage, or your usage numbers, are an estimation of how much energy your home will use over the coming 12 months. It’s written in kilowatt hours (kWh) and based on how much energy you’ve used in the past. You can find it on any of your energy bills or statements. In fact, you’ll find most of the information you need to switch to a cheaper deal on one of your bills or statements, including who your current supplier is, what your current tariff is called, when it ends (if it does) and the method by which you pay for it.

Importantly, your bills or statements will have been sent to you in the post or have been uploaded to the online account you have with your current energy supplier.

Sometimes, though, you won’t have a bill or statement to hand. And that’s fine. In most cases, you’ll be able to get a quote for a cheaper energy deal just by knowing who your current supplier is. And there are now very clever energy usage calculators that can estimate how much energy you use by asking questions about how big your house is and how many people live there. So, don’t let not having a bill put you off, there are savings to be made!

With all that said, you’re now well placed to go about switching to a cheaper energy deal. And here’s a handy step by step guide to securing your new deal.

Energy switching step by step

Step 1: Choose your switching approach

We’ve already discussed the different approaches you can take to switching energy suppliers. And the first step will always be choosing whether you’re going to spend hours researching and calling suppliers, use price comparison websites, or sign-up for automatic switching. If you do decide to hit the phone then we’ll leave you to it. The rest of this guide will focus on how to use price comparison websites or automatic switching services.

Step 2: Enter your Details

When using any price comparison website or automatic switching service, the first thing you’ll need to do is provide some details about your energy supply. This could be the full list of details we discussed above or just some information like your email, postcode, and who your current supplier is. Either way, fill out the questions you get asked and you’ll get shown a list of energy deals available for you to switch to. Hopefully, there’ll be some great savings to be made.

Step 3: Pick a New Deal

So you’ve seen the savings on offer. Now you need to pick a deal. It’s not always as simple as picking the cheapest. These days, in fact, there’s more choice than ever. With Migrate, for example, you can pick the cheapest green energy deal or just the outright cheapest deal.

One key thing to look out for, though, is whether a deal is fixed or variable. A fixed deal means that the cost of energy is fixed for the length of the contract, up until the end date. A variable deal means that the cost of energy can change. And there are often no end dates with these kinds of tariff. With variable deals, the price of the energy usually tracks changes in the energy market. There’s no obvious choice here between picking fixed or variable tariffs. If you pick a fixed deal, the price of energy could go down, benefitting people on variable deals. If you pick a variable deal, the price of energy can go up, benefiting people on fixed deals.

You’ll have to weigh up yourself what which kind of deal you’d prefer. Either way, picking a new deal will often save you money versus doing nothing.

Step 4: Sign-Up

Now you’ve picked a new energy deal, what next? Well, you’ll need to sign-up to the deal via the price comparison website or automatic switching service you’ve chosen to use. At this stage, you’ll be asked for some more details, such as your address, contact information, and Direct Debit details. These are used by your new supplier in order to get you set up. It only takes 5 minutes and then you’ll be done. Well, kind of. You’ll have to do it all over again next year if you’ve chosen to use a price comparison website. If you’ve picked an automatic switching service, though, you really are all set to sit back and save on your energy bills year after year. Bye bye forms!  

Step 5: Check Everything Over

Whatever you do, you should get a confirmation email of some kind. And it’s always good to check everything over and make sure everything seems ship shape and in order. You can’t beat peace of mind! If you’ve signed up to Migrate you can check over all your details on your online Migrate dashboard.

What Happens Next?

Ok, you’re done. So what happens next? You should hear from your new supplier in a couple of days. They’ll give you a big welcome and keep you informed about how they’ll to get you set-up with them. You’ll normally have to set up an online account around this time. Eventually, your new supplier will get in touch about taking your opening meter readings – that’s where you let them know what the numbers on your energy meters are – and this will be done closer to your switch-over date

How long will my energy switch take?

Switching to a cheaper energy deal typically take between 21 to 28 days to complete, that’s 3 to 4 weeks. And the switch-over date will usually fall sometime during this period. The switch-over date is when your old supplier stops supplying and charging you for your energy and your new supplier takes over. On occasion, switching can take longer than 21 to 28 days, so don’t be alarmed if you’re still waiting. If you like, you can get in touch with the company that did your switch for you and they can check everything over for you.

Do I need to contact my old energy supplier?

In short, no. Everything should be taken care of for you. Your new supplier will let your old supplier know that they are going to take over your energy supply and the two companies will decide on a switchover date. Later, when your new supplier asks for your opening meter readings, they will pass these on to your old supplier. Your old supplier will use these readings as the closing meter readings for your old account and this way you’ll be charged accurately for the energy you’ve used with them.

When will I get my final bill from my old supplier?

After you’ve moved over to your new supplier, it can take up to 4 or 6 weeks for your old supplier to produce your final bill. The final bill allows you and your old supplier to settle up for the energy you used in the period before you switched over to your new supplier. On this final bill, you’ll also be able to see whether you’re owed money by your old supplier (because you paid for more energy than you used). Or, you’ll be able to see if you owe your old supplier money (because you used more energy than you paid for).

Importantly, because this final bill will have taken into account the opening meter readings you gave to your new supplier, you’ll only be charged for the energy you used right up until the point you changed over to your new supplier.

What if I owe my old supplier money?

If you owe your current supplier money, this shouldn’t stop you from switching. Often people find that they owe their old supplier a little bit when they receive their final bill. And if you’ve switched, got your final bill, and it turns out you owe your old supplier a little bit of money, then you’ll just need to settle up with them. Only when you owe your current supplier a lot of money can they block your switch to a new supplier. And don’t worry if this happens, just contact your current supplier and agree a way forward.

What if my old supplier owes me money?

If you’re thinking about switching but also aware that your current supplier owes you money, then it’s best to go ahead and switch. That’s because the amount you’re owed will be stated on your final bill and will take into account all the energy you used with your old supplier right up until your change-over to a new supplier. Once you have this final bill, suppliers should return any money you’re owed automatically.

What if I want to cancel my switch?

Sometimes we change our minds. And that’s ok. If you have second thoughts about the energy supplier or the deal you’ve decided to switch to, then you can cancel the switch at any point up to 14 days after the date you agreed on. These 14 days are called the cooling-off period. And you can cancel your switch, no questions asked, as long as you’re within this time period.

If you would like to cancel, just get in touch with the price comparison website or automatic switching service you agreed to switch with. They can process the cancellation for you without you having to wait on hold with the new supplier.

energy meter beneath a thermostat dial

Will my energy meter affect my switch?

Electricity meter, gas meter, general domestic meter, smart meter? There are a fair few different types of meters. And you can learn more about them in the ‘Energy Meters’ section of our blog. Here we’ll address some of the most common meter related questions.

Are smart meters compulsory if I switch?

Nope! Well… there are a small number of deals that require you to agree to a Smart Meter installation. But these are few and far between. And you can check for this requirement by clicking on the terms and conditions of the energy deals you’re interested in switching to. Remember Step 5: check everything over. For the most part, however, you won’t need to get a Smart Meter. Your new supplier may try to offer you one, but you don’t have to accept it.

What will happen to my Smart Meter if I switch?

If you already have a Smart Meter, you might be wondering if anything will happen to it after you switch. The answer to this depends on the type of Smart Meter you have. Older and newer generations of Smart Meters behave differently when you switch supplier. You can read more about that in our Guide To Smart Meters.

What if I have an Economy 7 meter?

“What’s an Economy 7 meter?” you may be wondering. Well, if you’re not sure what that is, then the chances are you don’t have one. Economy 7 meters work by charging two separate rates for electricity, one rate during in the day and then another rate for 7 hours at night. People often wonder if they can switch to a cheaper deal if they have this type of meter. And the answer is that you absolutely can. Just make sure you select that you have an Economy 7 meter when you complete a quote.

What if I have Pre-Payment meter?

A Pre-Payment meter is any type of Gas or Electricity meter which requires the purchase of credit before any energy can be used. It’s like a pay-as-you-go energy contract.

Pre-Payment meters often use some kind of smartcard, token, or key, to which the credit is added. The smartcard, token, or key is then inserted into the energy meter. Unfortunately, Pre-Payment credit is usually expensive versus being on a normal tariff with a ‘Standard’ energy meter. If you’d like to read more about Pre-Payment meters, including how you can change your meter, then read our Pre-Payment meter blog post. Many switching services cannot support switching Pre-Payment meters but Migrate can!

Common energy switching worries and concerns

What happens if I switch and I’m not happy with my new supplier?

Ok, so you completed your switch. The cooling-off period is long gone. But you’re not happy with your new supplier. Don’t worry, it happens sometimes. And there are still things you can do. The key thing here is that you are now contracted to your new supplier. And this means your only real choice is to switch again, to a different supplier. The great news is that this can be sorted for you by a price comparison website or the automatic switching service you use. The only catch is that if your new deal has exit fees for early cancellation, then you’ll have to pay these. Because of this, we advise that you try to cancel within the cooling-off period.

If something goes wrong will my energy supply stop?

No, absolutely not. If something goes wrong with your switch, then your old supplier will carry on supplying your property with energy. Things do sometimes go wrong with energy switches but there’s nothing to be worried about. The switching service you used to switch to a cheaper deal should be able to help you. Migrate, for example, will be in contact with you every step of the way to make sure everything gets sorted correctly.

What if my current deal has exit fees?

Exit fees are charges that you may have to pay if you leave your fixed tariff contract early. Exit fees typically range between £5 to £30 per fuel (gas and electricity) and you’ll have to pay them if you leave your current deal too early.

However… if there are less than 49 days to go before the end of your current fixed tariff contract then you’re free to switch without paying an exit fee! If you’d like to read more about exit fees and how you can avoid them, then check out our blog post. Migrate never switches anyone if they will have to pay exit fees.

Can I switch if I’m a tenant?

If you’re a tenant in a rented property you can switch to a better energy deal if you’re responsible for arranging utility payments at your rented property. If the cost of your energy is included in your rent,  however, then it will be your landlord’s or letting agents responsibility to manage the energy supply. We know that renting can be expensive, so it’s definitely worth keeping your energy costs as low as possible. As well as switching to a cheaper deal, take a look at our blog on how to get your energy bills down by keeping your energy use low.

Light bulb made of grass floating in front of a green wall on a wooden boarded floor

Switching to green energy

Can I switch if I have solar panels?

Absolutely! Your ability to switch to a cheaper energy deal and save on your energy bills won’t be affected by your solar panels. This is because the contract for your energy supply is different from the contract which determines how much you get paid for the energy you generate (this is your Feed-In Tariff). Essentially, the company you pay for your energy supply and the company that pays you for the energy you produce doesn’t have to be the same. So you’re free to switch to a cheaper deal!

If I choose automatic energy switching what happens next year?

If you’ve picked an automatic switching service like Migrate, then you can pretty much relax. Next year, when your current deal comes to an end, the automatic switching service you’ve chosen will search for a new cheap deal for you. And you’ll be automatically switched to it. You won’t even have to lift a finger.

All your details will be stored from the year before. And you’ll receive an email confirming all the details of your new switch.

You’ll still be able to cancel the switch if you’re not happy with it. But you never need to worry about your supplier moving you onto an expensive tariff ever again, your automatic switching service will move you to a cheaper deal before they can do that. If you’d like to learn more about automatic switching and Migrate then check out our FAQs.

Interested in switching?

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